Mary Grace T. Betsayda is an emerging poeta and graduate student
living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She was born in Quezon City,
Philippines and immigrated to Canada at young and tender age of one.
She holds a B.A.(Hons) from the University of Toronto in English and
Sociology and is currently writing her thesis, majoring in Immigration
and Settlement Studies at Ryerson University. In the fall, she will be
starting her B.Ed at York University and is excited to be on the other
side of the teaching binary.
I can't stop staring
I should be asleep
Instead I meander through your photo feed
Looking for clues from your life
Things that will make me more
COGNIZANT of you
I am tired, Sir,
And I probably won't do this tomorrow
My obese lids not being able to open properly
Possible cornea crushes under the weight of each
When I close these eyes, I want to fall backwards
And dream you instead
One track mind
Taking the train is a lot easier ...with you on the brain.
My sister used to work in the same branch that I now work in. When I
ask people if they know her, they usually say, "Oh, I remember her.
She works upstairs right?" knowing full well that she does and this is
their way of prolonging the conversation with me and affirming to me
that they are in THE KNOW.
One day in the teller line, I was talking to a lady who knew my
sister. She asked about her husband and asked if he was Filipino. I
said that he was French Canadian. She said, "Wow. An improvement on
the race." I said to her, "I don't think so." After that, she said
nothing. What could she say? She already betrayed "her people" with
one fell swoop and was hoping that I would agree with her. I didn't.
Not that I don't love my brother-in-law. It's just that was the wrong
thing to say at the time.
Teller Line #2
Many Filipino people, regardless of being male or female, like to ask
me, "Where are you from?" I like to reply, "Guess". Since they already
made one in their heads, I think it's interesting to share it with me.
"Are you Chinese?" "No, I'm Filipino but people think I am inchik." I
wonder why they feel the need to know. Reassurance? Curiousity? It's
interesting to note that it seems more important to older Filipinos
than the younger ones that I encounter.
Sometimes when I am at the teller line, I feel like I am on display.
It's like people will ask me questions because they think I owe them
some sort of explanation as to why I am there/who I am/what I am
interested in just because I get paid to pay their bills.
I remember this other old man. He was of European descent. He asked
me where I was born. I lied and said, "Canada" just to throw him off.
He said that I had no trace of an accent but I know that by the way I
look he was thinking I was going to say some exotic locale. I might as
well have been born in Canada seeing as I don't remember anything
about "the Homeland". All my memories are here so does it really
matter that I spent 14 months in the Philippines before I came to
Canada? Unless I win some sort of homeland lottery then I don't think
it matters but people seem to think it does.
Heck, there are so many people I perceive as native born whose
grammar I want to correct. I ask on numerous occasions, "How do you
want your bills? Are 20's ok?" They reply, "20's is fine". Ha ha. And
you think you don't have to take ESL? I get a kick out of it every
time. I want to award the person who catches them self saying that
next time. Rather, I should put a nickel in a jar for every person who
says, "20's is fine" and reward the person who catches theirself