F: Prologue

F follows the story of five women who left their comfortable life and lucrative careers in their home country for California. Despite their differences, they manage to form a family with each other and share their struggles to find purpose, happiness, love, success, and, ultimately, themselves in strange land.

Note: Inspired by true events.

I was a fat kid. Having studied in a public school in grade school in a country stricken with poverty, I was around malnourished kids for all of my grade school. It made my weight even more pronounced. I was the overweight one who was laughed at during P.E. because, apparently, everything I step on would break into million different pieces because of my fat. I must have weighed a ton or something. I have no fuckin’ idea. That’s what everyone kept on saying. So, whatever.

I heard it everyday and grew afraid of actually breaking things because my family was poor and we can’t pay for a chair or other shit my fats end may up breaking. 

My teachers did nothing to stop the teasing. In fact, they participated in it. My homeroom teacher once announced my weight in front of the whole damn class and told me I am almost obese and that I should stop eating sweets. I don’t even like sweets. I never liked sweets. That same teacher asked my friends not to have me participate in a dance performance for a school event because I was fat. In all fairness to her, she said it behind my back, in front of the whole class. Such a class act.

I once said I wanted to play volleyball. They laughed at me and said I might as well be the ball.

Once I entered high school, I met a lot of other students who were heavier than I was. My father got a better job and afforded me a private education. Other students there had parents with even better jobs. They all had money to buy food. Hence, their normal, if not heavier physique.

I became “ordinary”. I wasn’t the ‘fat kid’ anymore. I was just the chubby one or, when I diet, average.

The reputation of being fat left me but not the effects it had on my psyche.

I was already convinced I was an unattractive girl. To lessen the humiliation, I told everyone I don’t want to get married so that when we grow older, no one will ask why I was still single.

It didn’t help that all of my cousins are attractive, if not downright hot. Although it was a standard rule in the clan that no one is to have boyfriend until we graduate from college (I came from a conservative country and an even more conservative family), no one followed that rule… except me.

Don’t get me wrong. I would have willingly broken that rule (despite my claim of not being interested in guys) had I been presented with the opportunity. In other words, had someone been interested in me, I would have dated.

There was someone interested in grade school but we were in fuckin’ grade school. I was convinced I was fat and unattractive. I ignored him and he didn’t pursue me further.

In high school, someone kept on sending me love letters. I later on found it was a girl. I don’t swing that way but thought it was cool. By the time I graduated, my younger cousins had at least 5 boyfriends each. I had 0 suitors, 0 boyfriends and 10 more pounds of excess weight. God, I hated my graduation pics. 

When I got into college, everyone shrunk again. I studied in a private school so it didn’t make sense they were all small. Apparently, half of them were anorexic/bulimic because being think it helped boost their confidence and get guys. I had no problem with confidence and was convinced no guy was going to like me. So, I was fine. I didn’t bother dieting.

I should have.

No one judged me in school organizations I joined because there were enough number of heavy people too even though we did physical activities. I joined the mountaineering club, the theater club, the Rotary Club, and about ten others.

Not a single member in those damn organization was interested in me.

So, I stuck to my story - I didn’t want to get married and just wanted to have a kid someday. No one really cared though.

After a while, I did sort of realize that I wasn’t really interested in getting married. I would be happy to remain single until I actually met someone that was also interested me.
After 21 years, I finally got myself a boyfriend. I wanted him to be my first and my last. It was my first relationship, don't judge.

My family wasn't happy about it and him, though. He was, errr, below their aesthetic standards. I mean… I am not pretty, I know that but I was better looking than he was. He was also still in college when I was already working.

My family made no effort to hide their disdain (it was actually disdain, not dislike). We did last five years and my family hated every minute of it. We broke up, not because he was "not good looking" but because I outgrew him. I got into another relationship that lasted almost two years.

His ex-girlfriend kept on pursuing him, leaving flirty messages on Facebook. It didn’t help that she was his officemate and was two-timing his boyfriend when he was with my ex-boyfriend. That’s confusing. Let me backtrack a bit.

The girl, let’s call her Anna, had a long-term relationship with another guy, let’s call him Barry. While with Barry, she had an affair with Charlie. Charlie ended up being my boyfriend. Anna got pregnant by Barry. They must have done a paternity test because she was sleeping with Charlie and Barry at the same time. Well, not at the same time (although I really wouldn’t know) but she was in a relationship which entailed lots of sex with each. Charlie told me so.

Anna and Charlie broke up and I met Charlie. At the time, Charlie was still in love with Anna, although he denied it. I believed him in the beginning until he started “wanting” to be the father of Anna’s baby.

It’s fucked up, I know.

I was slightly pissed since Anna continued to flirt with Charlie even when she knew Charlie was already with me.

Eventually, we broke up (Charlie and I, not Anna and I. Just as so we’re clear).

Then, I learned that Charlie and Anna was actually still together at the time Charlie and I were together.

I was the mistress of the mistress. 

It was like self-esteem camp.

I was nearing my 30s and is still single. That's "ancient" in the Philippines. There are days they (my relatives) look at me and I honestly think they could see me slowly decomposing and becoming a fertilizer for our small garden.

It was part of the reason I decided to pack up and leave the Philippines. I had to simply get away from all the judgment and teasing because I can't tell off my uncles and parents for insulting me for still being single. It's highly "disrespectful" in our culture to tell off older people, especially within the family.

I also had to “find myself” or some shit like that because if a guy could trick me into becoming a mistress for almost two years, I may be dumber than lice of our neighbor's dog. I moved to the U.S. to look for things I couldn’t find in the Philippines. At 30, I decided to leave a lucrative 12-year career and move to the U.S. I left my family, a kid I adopted, and lifelong friends.

I didn’t know anyone except a friend from high school. I had nothing but $100 in my pocket and a suitcase filled with clothes appropriate for only one of America’s four seasons. I told everyone I knew what I was getting myself into and I was fine with it, starting over, not having a family.

I was truly fine but I totally didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

I was brave… and undoubtedly stupid as proven by Charlie (I swear to god his name isn't Charlie). I wouldn’t have made that jump otherwise.

But if anything, I am a bacteria. I adapt to almost any situation I am into, no matter how hard, no matter how ugly. So after almost five years in the U.S., I am still in one piece… for the most part. I still have jagged edges as a result of a heart and soul broken too many times that no one bothered to collect and piece together. Some parts are sharper than the others that it cuts even myself. I am still unsure if those will ever be smoothed out but there are days when I do think that maybe I should leave it as is. There’s never a lack of beauty in the broken, anyway. 

I never got to “replace” the life I had back in the Philippines but I manage to create a different one and I try to make the most of it because what’s the alternative, right?

It hasn’t been easy but I could have said the same thing about living back home. Plucking out someone from her roots of three decades and throwing it in a cemented jungle speaking a different language (in more ways than one) begs for a lot of WTF moments. If it's any consolation, those WTF moments are almost always followed by a moment of clarity, not just in my current life but, on the life I lived, some parts of which I try so hard to forget.

From language to culture to a god damn temperature scale, there’s been a lot to learn and unlearn. The process hasn’t been easy. Some have been funny, some embarrassing, some downright humiliating.
No moment has killed me yet or this piece would have been a different genre.

I haven’t walked the path all alone. I do share it with four other people who, like me, were half courageous, half stupid for leaving their comfortable lives their country afforded them for the weird that is California.

Our reasons for migrating differ in details but similar in concept. We wanted something better and what that better means is for this story to reveal but it is important to know that not everything has been better. Some parts of us have been worse, some have stayed the same and some have turned out even better than how we envisioned. 

Through it all, we are together.


My name is Xath. I’m a hybrid in more ways than one. I always knew I wanted to write. I guess I figured I wanted to write something creative when I turned 15. I wrote for a comedy sketch show that may be my country’s equivalent to Saturday Night Live. I was the youngest in the crew and, like anyone else, had to earn my keeps. I started out as a brainstormer and moved up to become a contributing writer.

By the time I was 17 and graduating from college (I graduated early), a much more lucrative offer landed on my lap, to write speeches, technical documents, proposals, and other political materials for senator (who eventually ran for the Presidency and won). I got derailed, earned lots of money and also became unhappy.

I quit and tried advertising but creative writing has always been the love of my life. So, I wrote books and movies on weekends.

I adopted a baby girl and she is my greatest love.

I am definitely the most uninteresting character in the story. My love and penchant for observation and analysis often drives me to catatonia. I live vicariously through the people in my life, learned from it like it was my own, and feel for them as if it was my heart and soul in theirs. It often leaves me full, too full for me to even want to move.

I also have the odd habit of actively looking for the funny side of everything, even though it is highly inappropriate.

Kris was already in a serious relationship when I met her in graduate school. She was well on her way to getting engaged. So much so that she didn’t bother to look for an employer that could potentially petition her for a green card. She knew she was getting married. And she did.

A wild and spoiled girl in her youth,  she wants to enjoy the same privileges she had growing up. She got her eyes set on a house in Palos Verdes, a happy family, and a license in Pharmacy and she’s keeping track of her progress penny by penny, literally.

She describes herself to be manipulative and independent. Let’s find out if she’s right.

Shedry or She lived in Italy for 15 years. Married with one kid, she packed her bags and took her chance in the US because of a dream. In her dream, Uncle Sam told her she needs to move to the U.S. Her husband stayed behind in Italy and is supposed to join her as soon as she gets her green card secured. Her daughter is in the Philippines with her parents.

She has the complete Italian package, from fashion to love for freshly cooked meals to the Italian twang.

She’s the mother of the group and can always be counted on for simple errands like cooking to big favors like a kidney donation or something. She hasn’t donated a kidney yet but you get what I mean. She’s loves hanging out and laughing and doesn’t give a shit about anyone not down for that. She laughs, love, and hate with her whole body and wears her heart on her sleeve. 

Drop dead gorgeous and she knows it... and she uses it... and she enjoys it.

She's the eldest but thinks she's the youngest.

She comes from a big family. The youngest of 9 children, she is surrounded by 8 people who are all married and have happy family life. She wants the same.

She wants to find someone that will seriously fall in love with her and marry her and have babies with her. She believes, too, that she needs to keep on trying until she finds the right one. She doesn’t allow herself to get held back by men who claims to they just want a one-night stand. She believes she can change their minds.

Like Kris, she grew up in luxury. She is used to having a chauffeur and a personal assistant. She has a lot in common with Kris and that's why, they clash.

She’s gay. It doesn’t matter to us, obviously, but it’s a big part of who she is and a big part of what makes her great. She knows how it is to be judged so she doesn’t judge. She has the widest social circle among us. An extrovert like She, her social calendar is never (literally) empty.

She’s up for dates and having fun but has no inclination for a serious relationship.

"F" Chapter Guide


No comments:

Post a Comment