Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I have the flag tattooed to my forehead.

I was a kid living in the Philippines. My white American father met my mother here in San Fernando during his first assignment.  This particular story occurs during his second assignment there.  Most of the time I was out in town, I either with my mother, grandmother, or aunt.  I have very few memories of my father being with me in town.

One day--it had to have been shortly before his assignment was up--he took me into town to get some errands done.  He parked the car and I grabbed a pin.  I want to say that the pin was of an American flag.  More likely, I think it was off one of my dad's uniforms.  The point is that whatever it depicted, it drew attention to the fact that I was an American.  He told me that it was not safe to wear and that I would have to leave it.

At the time I complied.  I had heard some hazy conversations about some threats.  Something do with a service member getting stabbed and attacked.  Whether that was actually true, I don't know--it was just something I had gone with at the time.  Yet the fact that I couldn't wear this pin because it would identify me as an American and make me a target was laughable.

I was well known in that town.  Even with an American military installation, American kids running around was plenty odd.  In fact, I don't ever recall seeing another American kid there.  Clark, sure.  Wallace, no.  Plus there was this really tall white guy right accompanying me.  I think that any bandit or communist rebel would have me pegged straight out.

I knew that I was different but it dawned on me then that being known as an American could be dangerous.  When we left, it was made even more clear as we had to take a helicopter to Clark which was locked down.  My dad had to get special permission to leave the base, get to Manila, and fly back to America.

Let me say though, that I feel very comfortable in San Fernando.  It doesn't take long for the locals to figure out I'm an American.  It doesn't bother me... there. There are other places though that give me pause about visiting and that kind of depresses me.

1 comment:

john said...

Wow. that is a bit scary.