Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Gana la Verde

With the new year here, I always look back to the past and thank God everyday that even though I'm not where I want to be yet, at least I'm not where I use to be. Thinking back that far I remembered something that at the time didn't seem like a big deal to me, but looking back on it now, I still can't believe it. 

Back in 2004 there was a show called "Gana la Verde," a fear factor inspired show that pitted contestants in physical challenges all so the winner can have an opportunity win a green card. This show captivated its audience as soon as it hit the air. The show was offering people a chance to become legal residents, what every undocumented resident dreams of for their families.

People have traversed through all kinds of dangers to get into the U.S. so doing some crazy stunt and eating strange food for that dream is a piece of cake for us. My father was one of the contestants for the show before it got cancelled. At the time I didn't think much of it, he was going to be on t.v. and we would tape it at hope and get a good laugh. See back in those times, I was at my most apathic. I wasn't going to school, working or anything. 

My days consisted of getting up late, eating, watching t.v. and playing video games all day. Coming outta high school and knowing that all of the worlds doors are closed to me instilled hate and rage in me soo deep that even to this day, it's still there despite the huge improvements I have made in my life. It's always going to be there as a reminder of what I cannot be, another regular person. 

In the show my father had to ride on top of a small airplane and grab flags from each of the wings as quickly as possible. He made it to the second round in which he had to eat raw craw fish. He made it to the third round and I can't remember what he did, but in the end he lost and came in second place. After the show we learned that the prize is help in adjusting the winners legal status with the help of a law firm for a year. 

The winner, which was a woman, ended up selling her prize to my dad for a few hundred dollars because she was already in the process of legally immigrating, winning the game only expedited the process. My father snatched up the contract and hoped that this would be his chance to finally become a legal resident. The layers did their job, they helped my dad get on track in becoming a legal resident through sibling sponsorship. 

The contract with them covered all the fees that go along with the applications and that was it. That was as far as he could go. That's when he realized that he could help me adjust my status as well just like they helped him. We went to meet with the layers at their Beverly Hills office to discuss my situation and what can be done about it. 

After answering a set of questions about that helped them narrow down what my options for legally immigrating were. One that day I learned that no matter what I did, it was all futile and pointless. I had no family member to sponsor me, no unique trade skill that would merit an employer sponsoring me or a girlfriend that would marry me, I had no options available and it pissed me the fuck off. 

I still remember the vile taste of hate I felt when I realized that the world I know is closed off to me because I was born somewhere else and because my parents in their foolishness never thought about what kind of future I would have in the U.S. I think back on those times and I realize how much we, as immigrants, sacrifice and live through only to be told your not eligible. 

My father risked his life getting on that stupid ass plane for that stunt and gave me the prize he bought so i could have a chance to adjust my status. I may have my issues about my father and don't blame him anymore for some of the things he put our family through, after all we're all human and we all make mistakes. 

He's so desperate to become a legal resident that he'll jump through any hoop just to have that chance. That's how bad some of us want it. Looking back on it now I see it differently than I did back then, but I see it as my father doing what he's always been doing, trying to give his family the best life a man can possibly can. 

No one can ever take that way from him or anyone else for that matter. We may not have much, but at least we have some dignity, which is more than I can say for people who criticize undocumented residents. Putos.   


Anonymous said...

Wow - I never knew this TV Show existed. That is incredibly sad that the greatest hope of a man will be held as a prize for others amusement.

Your words touched on so many different emotions and I think many will relate to your struggle.

God bless you, your father and todo su familia.

Silence Breaker said...

Yes, this is really messed up. You know, I hate filipino game shows, because a lot of them do this. They make extremely poor people embarrass themselves in national television for money. It's so sickening, and people actually laugh.

I know the rage you feel inside. I've been having those same types of issues as well. I'm not the type to be easily angered, but ever since I found out I was undocumented, I can't help but sometimes feel angry, and I can see myself going bitter, and I try to stop and think how optimistic I was before. It helps, but you know, deep down, I don't know if that anger will ever go away for good. I don't know who or where to direct my anger. To conservatives who hate immigrants? I have friends who are conservative, considering I live in a very conservative town, I can't hate them. They're still my friends, and I'm not going to judge them based on the fact that they're conservative. That would be stooping down to their level. Do I blame my parents? Can't do that either. I love them. All this anger. Where towards? I'm still trying to figure who exactly I'm angry at.

The show you talked about reminds me of what I often think about, especially when I stopped college. I started thinking about what I would do or give up just to be a permanent resident. And yeah, I've realized, if given the chance, I would do some pretty crazy stuff just to be considered American.

Lu said...

That show could be considered a type of performance art...I think of it as a way of fighting back when you are not even allowed to do so in the political and legal arenas. There is always the human imagination and arts.

I am a fan of performance, especially in unexpected places. People can't escape looking at what you are doing or trying to question or communicate.

Have you seen Coco Fusco's and Guillermo Gomez-Pena's performance piece Couple in a Cage? It's pure genius! It isn't practical activism, but it is great for addressing more abstract issues connected to specific political issues and actions.

I went through a period of blaming my parents, but they just did what they had to to give us a good life. Like Silence said, it does get difficult when there isn't a particular person to blame. My solution so far has been to numb myself. It has worked too well, sometimes I don't even know how to feel angry any more. I don't think it's healthy, so I'm working on being ok with being angry and punching some pillows if I have to.