Monday, February 18, 2008

SevenUP!Date #5: How I Became Tita Barbie

Wow. This post is a looooong time coming. It'll be fairly long, too. Sorry, ahead of time.

Quick refresher: back in January I agreed to participate in a meme with my friend Melissa. A meme, for those who don't know, is an idea or a game that spreads from person or group of people to another person or group of people, usually for fun, usually via the internet. This was a game that got players to share 7 odd things about themselves. I chose to explain the odd things in later posts. However, the later posts got pre-empted by other things. So I'm picking things up now. I'm on #5;

5. There's a village on the other side of the planet where I'm known as Tita Barbie. And it's not an insult (there; we all know it would be here: I'm 5'2", size 14). Of course, Mattel would never let Barbie eat dinu goan and 'duck's last meal', which they proudly fed me, and (armed with the knowledge of what they were before eating them) I gladly ate.

At Christmas in 2003 through the 3rd week of January, Rick took me to the Philippines to meet his father's side of the family. It was an experience. The first thing I noticed was that NO ONE in the world decorates for Christmas like they do in the Philippines. It was fantastic. Office buildings in Manila had huge nativity scenes that scaled their sheer sides for 6 and 7 stories, brilliantly lit, and occasionally animated! And everywhere there were parols. Just completely gorgeous. So totally beautiful; I was dazzled.

We left Manila for the village of my now father-in-law's childhood. Part of the reason for the timing of our visit was the family reunion being held in this village. The reunion travels, depending on which branch of the family hosts it, and this year one of Rick's cousins was the host. Our presence was auspicious. It was a big deal to have American relatives present at the reunion. It took place between Christmas and New Year's Day, I met dozens of people I am now related to who remain fuzzy in my memory, yet welcomed me more warmly than my family ever has. And that really is saying something.

So one evening shortly before New Year's we were having dinner at one cousin's home. Her 18 month old niece came out to say hello before bedtime, and was passed from woman to woman to be held and cooed over. (She was very very adorable.)

I have to interject a little about this particular dinner. This evening was a little challenging for me. Most of our time up til this point had been fairly 'normal' (?): at least, I hadn't noticed that women and men had been segregated, if they had been before. But on this occasion, the separation was plain and stark and there was nothing I could do about it. It was uncomfortable and a bit frightening, because I'd been in the country less than a week, knew these people not well at all, and was now being forced away from the only 2 people in the country I DID know, who were off with the men. Worse yet? The men had ALL the alcohol. There was none for the women. And the knife twisting in my ribs? GAHH!!! All they wanted to do was talk about weddings and babies!!!! Torture!! It was girl time with girl talk, turning pink with hearts dotting every single 'i'!!! Uggghhh.

(I wear combat boots. My favorite colors are olive green, blue, and black. I like punk rock and world music. I have an open mind, but I detest being pidgeon-holed. I felt for all the world like I was being pidgeon-holed that night. But then it changed...)

So anyway, there's this lovely little girl, and she's making her way around the circle of women. Every once in a while she looks at me, and omigoodness do her eyes get BIG! Each time she looks at me, they grow a bit more!! It gets to be my turn and she's too shy. The women try to get her to go to me and she steadfastly buries herself into the nearest shoulder.

They apologized to me! "What? No! Don't apologize -- I'm a stranger, you should be glad she doesn't want to come to me. This is good!" But no, no, go to Tita Rebecca, they insist; and of course she doesn't. After about 20 minutes, finally she looks at me and points:

"Barbie!" --Little Girl

"OooooOOOOOooooooo! Aaahh! Barbie!" (disolves into knowing laughter and excited chatter in Tagalog) --Various Aunts and Great Aunts

"...uuuummm..." --Me

"She watches 'Barbie Swan Lake' every day -- twice, sometimes 3 times -- and she thinks you are her hero, come to visit her!! That is why she is too shy!"

And the name stuck.

I collect Barbie dolls now. Not the run of the mill, crappy, cheerleader/prostitute-dressing typical Barbie that every child wants. I collect the unusual ones. I like the race- and culture-specific ones, that have culturally correct costumes. Like Diwali Barbie. I'd love to find a Fulla Doll. And there's a whole series of comic book character dolls that I wish were in my collection. They're not for playing with, I just like them. :-) Plus, I'm (aparently) their 'aunt' now...

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At 7:25 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

Oooh! You're Barbie!!! :)

(Er... my verification word is "ismack" Lol!)


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