When I ask some of the aunties and uncles who immigrated to the Pacific Northwest why they chose this region to resettle their families, the responses start with the obvious: they already knew other Filipinos had who moved here, there were jobs available and the cost of living is (was?) lower than other places in the U.S. If the conversation goes a further, they'll eventually mention the scenery and the seafood. Always the seafood.
Barely a few months upon moving to Bremerton from Hawai'i, moms and pops were taking the whole fam out seemingly every weekend to nab our share of nature's bounty. Squid fishing near the ferry terminal at night, digging for clams along Dyes Inlet (before it was closed due to Red Tide), collecting oysters at Twanoh, hitting up every possible dock in a 2 hour radius with a crab net and a bunch of fish heads and chicken bones. Every family member was required to come along in order to capitalize on the per-person fishing limit. Everywhere we went, alongside us, were many other Filipino families doing the same.
Later, my uncle immigrated to the area and began working seasonally in the seafood industry in Alaska and would live with us during the off-season. I got hip to the history of Filipinos working in the canneries in Alaska, returning to the Seattle area or the Philippines for a few weeks of rest before heading back north. Many of the Alaskeros were Ilocano, affectionately called "Manong" in the community here.
During my time working at Wing Luke Asian Museum in Chinatown/ID, I gained an appreciation and understanding of the big role the Manongs played in the regional seafood industry, and the struggles they went through to fight for fair labor practices and equal treatment and pay. In particular, the story of the Local 37 of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) during the 1970's, where Filipino union organizers linked the local labor struggle with the struggle for democracy in the Philippines against dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Two organizers, Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo, were killed in retaliation for their tireless efforts for justice. It was an honor to be asked to provide the narration for One Generation's Time: The Legacy of Silme Domingo & Gene Viernes (2014, dir. Shannon Gee), a documentary about their lives and struggle:
Whenever I eat local seafood, I'm reminded of all these things: the family trips to harvest what would become our meal for the day, the Manongs who were and still are part of the backbone of our region's seafood industry, the struggle of labor organizers against corrupt and unfair labor practices. I'm also reminded of big feasts with family and friends, and the abundance of seafood during summers in the Northwest.
So, before I embark on a West Coast (& Hawai'i) summer tour run with my Beatrock Music fam (first show is in Seattle on Tuesday, July 21 at The Crocodile!), I wanted to throw a welcome/farewell dinner party. From what I know of my fellow rappers, DJ's and producers whom I'll be traveling with over the next couple weeks, many of 'em love seafood, and a few of 'em are pescetarian, including my bro from The Bar, Bambu (see "Fish" video below). If we were ever going to do an all-seafood, no land animal meat menu, now's a perfect time.
BAYBÁY means "ocean" in Ilocano. Also, it's pronounced "bye-bye," a fitting event name for a despedida dinner. The Beatrock Music fam will be in attendance, and guest DJs from the roster will be spinning tracks from the Beatrock Music catalog during dinner service. Nani, owner of Soul Desire Bakery in Oakland and performing on tour with Rocky Rivera, will be collaborating with Chera for a dessert collaboration with Hood Famous Bakeshop and will also have items from her bakeshop for sale.
Milkfish Springroll w/ Saluyot Leaves & Feta Cheese
Kinilaw na Pusit
Cold Marinated Grilled Squid w/ Leeks, Red Onion & Siling Labuyo
Sisig na Tahong
Mussels on Sizzling Platter w/ Calamansi Oyster Mayo
San Miguel Beer & Ginger Steamed Manila Clams
Dungeness Crab Pancit Palabok
Pancit Noodles w/ Crab Meat, Crab Fat Sauce, Grilled Shrimp, 6-Minute Egg, Chives
Maja Blanca Mais
Sweet Corn & Coconut Milk Ice Cream, Blueberry Compote & Cookie