Political Content Writing Workshop:

Vallejo
&
Lola

Joshua Castro


Vallejo

Vallejo moves in slow motion.  Cars cruise along lazily.  People lurk along the pavement.  Elders melt into lawn chairs sitting upon creaking wooden porches.   Empty lots are homes to yellowed grasses and towering weeds.  The streets dented with potholes and sidewalks yearn to be restored to their former glory.

The corner of Florida and Tuolumne hears the songs of birds interspersed with E-40 and Mac Dre and Flowmasters.   

Downtown is a cuckold as its former lovers flee to the more “exotic” locals of San Francisco and Oakland.  

Wintertime is busses splashing puddles as they round turns down flooded street corners.

Summertime means lost teenagers shoulder-tapping strangers to buy them 40-ouncers and Newports from the liquor store.  The small of Mexican food trucks mingle with the smell of exhaust.  


Lola

My lola always seemed to talk about the Philippines as a place that she would be required to return to in order to deal with business matters, but never as a place that she wanted to return to. The Philippines is a corrupt place where people speak of their devotion to the Christ from one side of their mouth and from the other they spew forth venom about how they covet thy neighbor’s goods.  

"Filipinos are to blame for the fate of that country," she would say. I encouraged her to apply for dual citizenship so that she could vote for progressive candidates in the Philippine elections to which she replied:

“I will not stain my hands with blood. Let the politicians soil themselves and their country. I want nothing to do with it.”

When she did have something worthwhile to speak about the Philippines she told us her fondest memories. The smell of the sea air as she swam in the ocean near the beaches of Panay Island. She would mention how she loved the taste of taho in the morning and dried fish for merienda. She spoke of her family dog, a large German Sheperd named Adobo, who had been trained to fetch the family’s groceries from the palengke. Suddenly she would snap out of her daydream.

“But all that is different now. Your grandfather is buried in Colma and I am going to buried right along side him.”


Joshua Castro has been an Oakland resident since 2010. He attended San Francisco State University and majored in Asian American studies and sociology . As a former member of League of Filipino Students at SFSU, he is now a regional staff member of BAYAN-USA-NORCAL.