The American Dream, as the Filipinos fondly call it. There was a time when a lot of Filipinos dream of a better life by migrating to the USA. I remember teens getting into college were coerced to enter nursing or get a course on caregiving just to have a better chance of getting into America. Our family was supposed to migrate to USA when I was still in grade school but the plan fell through due to an obstacle. I never bothered to think about it growing up, thinking it will still be a dream. The closest I got to USA was Guam. By a twist of fortunate events, August 2015, I found myself standing on of the longest wooden pier in America, the Oceanside Pier. Finally, I could feel the cool crisp air, see the surfing culture with my own eyes, walk the steps of the pier where some Hollywood movie actors walked (cue in Top Gun, Iwo Jima and American Sniper) and have a taste of the local eats. Yes, I’m in California and its just the beginning of my journey in the land of dollars. Fulfilling my own American Dream.
The Oceanside Pier
My getting into America was not solely of my own doing. Most of our clan are spread out in the country and I would attend the grand reunion as representative from the PH. My sister and her husband helped me get here. They hosted my stay in Southern California. My sister, Clarise, who’s active in her church frequents the coastal city of Oceanside during market day Thursdays. She volunteers in their church booth. My other sister from Canada, Elise, was also with us and accompanied me on exploring this lively Thursday market. There was so much to see and try.
While waiting for our other sister to finish her duties, my sister Elise and I spent more time by the Oceanside Pier, a dominating wooden pier 1,954 feet (569m) long, extending to the western US sea. It stood witness to the long history of this coastal city since it was built in 1888. I remember my aunt, who migrated in the US late 70s, tell me on how she remembered the seedy reputation of Oceanside after the world war II. Oceanside is also a military town south of Camp Pendelton. Those early decades, Oceanside was a tough town with high crime rate, home to rowdy bars, nude night clubs and sleazy beach front motels. But with the local community’s efforts to change the city image, things slowly turned around by year 2000 with implementation of the city’s redevelopment plans.
Now, I don’t see a shade of the town’s former shadow. What I see now is a thriving coastal town with chic beach side establishments, luxurious hotels and an active community. But that’s just on the coastal area where I had been. Who knows if i get deeper into the alleys of the city.
West Coast Sunset
Those slender and tall California palms trees with its amusing bud-shaped tips and somewhat fuzzy trunk fringe the stretch of the beach. Come sunset, they form lovely silhouettes, of towering beings that seems to watch the setting sun with the crowd at the beach. Oceanside beach is lovely, wide with fine cream sands. But the beach here is cold and the water chilly. Now I understand why westerners love our warm sunny beaches. The waves is a haven for surfers with swells and barrels peaking until the fading light. I watch a variety of people, from loners to families enjoying the beach. It’s amazing how the coast is well developed. Playgrounds, eateries, shower areas and provisions for campfire without polluting the sands. The lights at the pier lit up adding a pulsating warm glow under the twilight pastel sky.
We went back to the Thursday Market. A country band was rocking some tunes as we busy ourselves ordering meals for dinner. I relish the large order of authentic Greek gyro which I shared with my sisters. And I got introduced to the wonders of Chamango, a Mexican Chili drink that has a crazy mix of flavors from sweet, spicy, and sour. It’s basically made of two ingredients — mango (plus other fruits) and chamoy (locally also knowns as champoy). Add a sauce of pickled fruits and powdered spices for a more intense flavor. I love it! How come we don’t have this in the Philippines?! It really goes well with the tasty gyros we ordered.
The Thursday Market didn’t stay late that evening. In fact, people were already packing up as early as 8pm. After that wonderful dinner, we headed to my sister’s home at Vista. I sat in the front seat of the car and see Oceanside at our night drive. I’m getting to know America little by little. Deeper than what the movies or books I’ve read have portrayed. Perhaps seeing and immersing in the life of each people I meet there.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.