Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City

Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City

Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City

Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City


Home to 33,000 Filipino American residents, Daly City, California, located just outside of San Francisco, has been dubbed "the Pinoy Capital of the United States." In this fascinating ethnographic study of the lives of Daly City residents, Benito Vergara shows how Daly City has become a magnet for the growing Filipino American community.

Vergara challenges rooted notions of colonialism here, addressing the immigrants' identities, connections and loyalties. Using the lens of transnationalism, he looks at the "double lives" of both recent and established Filipino Americans. Vergara explores how first-generation Pinoys experience homesickness precisely because Daly City is filled with reminders of their homeland's culture, like newspapers, shops and festivals. Vergara probes into the complicated, ambivalent feelings these immigrants have-toward the Philippines and the United States-and the conflicting obligations they have presented by belonging to a thriving community and yet possessing nostalgia for the homeland and people they left behind.


One will hear the joke told, eventually, though it hardly ever sounds like one. It’s almost always delivered casually, thrown out like an offhand rhetorical question, as a matter of incontestable fact. “You know why it’s always foggy in Daly City, right? Because all the Filipinos turn on their rice cookers at the same time.” This particular teller of the joke (Wally, a newspaper photographer) and I (a student of anthropology) are sitting in scuffed plastic chairs in the living room of his cramped apartment in the Pinoy capital of the United States. We are both among the 33,000 Filipino residents of Daly City, California, where one out of three people are of Filipino descent.

It is a freezing afternoon in late August, and we are looking through the damp glass of the window that faces out onto the quiet suburban street. Outside the fog swirls, tugged by the wind into gentle twists of cotton, spilling over the roofs and parallel-parked Hondas. But inside, it is warm, as it does not take much time to heat up the small room cluttered with boxes of bulk food purchased from Costco, cassette tapes, photography books, and an open balikbayan box addressed to Wally’s parents in Quezon City. Wally, with a half-consumed bottle of beer in one hand, leans back in his chair after delivering the punch line, and waits for my reaction. I grin widely, because it is hard not to. I’ve always found it really funny.

Wally is not the first person to tell me the joke. Almost every single one of my interviewees inevitably asks me the question about fog and Daly City. There is very little variation in the way the joke is told, whether in . . .

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