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Turo-turo of Politics...

Almost everyday I go to different Filipino restaurants in Jersey City for my lunch along Newark Avenue in Jersey City. Twenty years ago there was only one restaurant serving the traditional "Turo-turo" style. Similar to the other Buffet/ Cafeteria service restaurant where you peek, your eyes behind the glass and select what is the most appetizing. This is very convenient since most of the ethnic foods (goulash) are prepared on the pot (healthier versus the oily frying or grilling) Today there is about half dozen restaurants just along the Jersey Avenue a couple of blocks from the Hudson County office and Courthouse. It is not surprising to see numbers of Filipinos serving as Jury eating during their lunch break. As they start to get involve in politics it is a good sign to see almost some pride in wearing the "Juror" tag as they appear. It is very nice when they invite their fellow Juror to try the native cuisine. For a meal costing less than four (4) bucks how can you go wrong. This is a far cry from the first generation of working class Filipinos who arrived in Jersey City. At that time they were even afraid to vote because of the fear of being called for Jury from the registration list. You are the judge and let everyone aware that they might be some instances that their guilt will depend on you. It is the ultimate membership to political community because we become equal peers. The judgement is on the contemporary mind of the common citizen that we are now part of this due process. We all have conservative leaning that this make us finding someone guilty as we see the evidence. As jury selection is becoming more scientific the chances of being picked from the potential pool is reduced. Defense attorneys will try to seclude Asian and ethnic groups with traditional background. This is not due to lack of compassion but rather than emotional toughness coming from humble beginnings and making it through the hard road. Jury system is completely unknown in the Philippines and participation in this process is just the beginning of political process. When the US Government introduced democratic system in the Philippines in 1899 to 1904 the Philippines was administered by the War Department and did not trust the common tao (men) as they were considered uneducated and barbaric savages. Only judge tried the judicial cases. This continued to the present times and we canít blame the US government now. . Filipinos did not get the experience till they came here. Daily inside the Courthouse you will see more Filipinos because more Filipinos are naturalized. It is as open as "Turo-turo" selection where individual decision is made based on what you see. No Menu to read that will be prepared later. Free election was the first political right that was granted to the Philippines during the American commonwealth. This therefore is not new to us unlike the Jury system. The Fil-am however has very slow start. . Ador Equipado is seeking elective post in Hudson County under the Republican Party in the coming election. I happen to be a die-hard Republican so he will get my vote regardless. Just the fact that he is running is good enough for me but exposure is in the tradition of "Turo-turo." Discussion might enhance support but it would surely help the future Fil-am who would have the same dreams.

The Fil-Am Restaurant is the oldest and lately has been renovated. It is becoming like a Cultural Center as Romy Ferrer, (owner) effort to promote Filipiniana arts and media. You can browse the books as you are seated finishing your selection. I am impressed at the ambience Romy created but I am hoping that we start reading books and appreciating arts and heritage. Inside is just having lunch with the arts and culture.

The cityís Public Library is just across the street. The inventory of Filipino Books has been increasing since PACCAL donated books from the Philippines. The video department even bought Jose Rizal videotapes for the library patrons. Last Saturday, July 18, 1999 the final question on the popular Jeopardy program was "This novelist became the national hero of the Philippines". (Answer: Who is Jose Rizal?) Do you notice the large number of answers about the Philippines increasing in the show? Well, at least common Philippine knowledge is no longer focused on "Imelda Marcosí shoes."

Incidentally, I take mental inventory of Philippine-centered books at libraries. I make sure to ask the Librarian for any Filipino related book everywhere I go. I hope you do the same because most books are stocked due to persistent inquiries. Maybe one day our children will appear in quiz program and will not have any trouble.

"Bayanihan" is cooperation. Both are long but they come together. Cooperation when I was in grade school (during the primeval age) was spelled co-operation. As the practice became common and widely used it is now accepted as one word "cooperation."


Nestor Palugod Enriquez