Pinoyspotting: Aruba

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 I saw brothers Jan Dwayne and Janiro Nuñez playing soccer on the Baby Beach in Aruba. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

I saw brothers Jan Dwayne and Janiro Nuñez playing soccer on the Baby Beach in Aruba. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Aruba is a magical island. Blessed with calm azure sea, it has long stretches of white-sand beaches. The island is small, with a population of only 120,000, of which about 9,000 are Filipinos. Coming from a country of 7,100 islands, Filipinos, who are the modern-day Vikings, chose wisely which island to invade. They are enhancing the social fabric of Aruba, making the island vibrant, if not a happier island!
 Most Arubans are quadrilingual, that is, they speak four languages: Papiamento, Dutch, English and Spanish. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Most Arubans are quadrilingual, that is, they speak four languages: Papiamento, Dutch, English and Spanish. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

 Kathy Vesico, the author, and Kath Calano. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Kathy Vesico, the author, and Kath Calano. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

I stayed at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in the heart of downtown Oranjestad, the capitol of Aruba. Surveying the area, I entered the V.I.P. Gift & Souvenirs, where sales clerks, Kathy Vesico (Candon, Ilocos Sur) and Kath Calano (Rodriguez, Rizal), immediately “Pinoyspotted” me. They gave me directions on how to go to the Filipino restaurant in the area.

 The author and Myla Layos Avecilla. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

The author and Myla Layos Avecilla. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

I bought some fruits and vegetables at the Kong Hing Supermarket. I asked the cashier if there were Filipinos working in the supermarket. She introduced me to Myla Layos Avecilla (Quezon, Isabela), who emerged from the office. She has raised her family in Aruba.

 Perlita Catbagan Miranda and the author. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Perlita Catbagan Miranda and the author. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

I entered the Payless Gift & Souvenirs, and I was greeted by sales clerk Perlita Catbagan Miranda (Santo Tomas, La Union). We exchanged pleasantries in Ilocano.

 Liza Ramirez Catibog, the author, and Cherry San Juan Catibog. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Liza Ramirez Catibog, the author, and Cherry San Juan Catibog. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

I “Pinoyspotted” Liza Ramirez Catibog (Batangas City, Batangas), who was sitting on a bench. She just finished working in a supermarket. After a few minutes, Cherry San Juan Catibog (Cardonal, Rizal), her relative by marriage, came out of the jewelry store where she works. They were going home together.

 Cherryline Batulino Perez, the author, and Sherwin Bambo. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz, photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Cherryline Batulino Perez, the author, and Sherwin Bambo. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz, photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

I took an island tour of Aruba. Our first stop was at the California Lighthouse. I entered the La Tratoria El Faro Blanco Restaurant to use the pay toilet. I “Pinoyspotted” Cherryline Batulino Perez (Davao City), who was working at the front desk. She then called Sherwin Bambo (Morong, Rizal) to join us.

After our photo shoot, Sherwin asked the toilet lady not to let me pay. Now, I call that “Pinoyspotting” clout!

 Standing: Jayr Salamatin, Jolina Salamatin, Jessel Salamatin, and the author. Sitting: Precilla Policarpio Antioquia. (Photo by Grace Ramirez Nacito. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Standing: Jayr Salamatin, Jolina Salamatin, Jessel Salamatin, and the author. Sitting: Precilla Policarpio Antioquia. (Photo by Grace Ramirez Nacito. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

I met Precilla Policarpio Antioquia (San Jose del Monte, Bulacan) the owner-chef of The Kambal Bar and Restaurant in Oranjestad, Aruba. Catering to locals, tourist, and Filipinos, it has earned a Trip Advisor sticker. Helping in the restaurant are her Aruban-born and Tagalog-speaking grandchildren: Jayr Salamatin, Jolina Salamatin, and Jessel Salamatin.

 Steven John Scully, Grace Ramirez Nacito, and the author. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Steven John Scully, Grace Ramirez Nacito, and the author. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Grace Ramirez Nacito (Kapalong, Davao del Norte) and her fiancé, Steven John Scully, were eating at the Kambal Bar and Restaurant. Based in New York City, they were visiting Aruba. She is a nurse, he an interventional-radiology technician.

 The author and Randy Avecilla. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

The author and Randy Avecilla. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

I had a few hours to spare before going to the airport. I went back to the Kong Hing Supermarket, and I finally met Randy Avecilla (Quezon, Isabela), who was working in the backroom. He entertained friends working in a cruise line the day before.

 Neslie Mae Martinez, Jennifer Descaya, and the author. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Neslie Mae Martinez, Jennifer Descaya, and the author. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

I also went back to the Kambal Bar and Restaurant and I “Pinoyspotted” Jennifer Descaya (Iloilo City, Iloilo) and Neslie Mae Martinez (Legazpi City, Albay), who were relaxing, sipping soft drinks and working on their cell phones. They took a break from a cruise line, which docked in Oranjestad. Both work in the beauty department of the cruise line’s spa and salon.

 The author and Rodell Antioquia. (Photo is courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz, photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

The author and Rodell Antioquia. (Photo is courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz, photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Kambal (Twins) Bar and Restaurant is named after the Antioquia twins: Rodenn and Rodell. When I went back to the restaurant, Rodell who is older of the twins, was at the cash register. His full-time job is head waiter at another restaurant.

 Sarah Day Dayon and the author. (Photo is courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz, photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

Sarah Day Dayon and the author. (Photo is courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz, photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

On my way back from Aruba to Chicago, I had a stopover at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. I “Pinoyspotted” Sarah Day Dayon, who was waiting for the same flight to Chicago. She was visiting her family in Chicagoland. Also, she would be attending the launch event of UniPro Chicago–Midwest. UniPro or Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc. (unipronow.org) is a New York City-based nonprofit organization that educates, empowers, and connects the Pilipino American Community.

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in ethnic studies and biology from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. She is pursuing her master’s degree in teaching also at Brown University.

 The author, Marissa Marquez, and Julieta Marquez Panergo. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

The author, Marissa Marquez, and Julieta Marquez Panergo. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro.)

I retrieved my suitcase at around 11:15PM from the baggage carousel at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Just as I was taking out my winter coat, I “Pinoyheard” sisters Marissa Marquez and Julieta Marquez Panergo talking in Ilocano. Residing in Winnipeg, Canada, they had a long layover in Chicago to catch their flight to Philippines via Hong Kong. Marissa is a nurse, whereas Julieta is a financial analyst. Their hometown in the Philippines is Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija.


Rey E. de la Cruz

Rey E. de la Cruz, Ed.D., writes from Chicagoland when he is not loving the arts and traveling. He is the author of the children’s book, Ballesteros on My Mind: My Hometown in the Philippines, which also has Ilocano, Spanish, and Tagalog versions.


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