Finally, here it is! This is my very first linkup post, hosted here at The ADRICULOUS Life!
First, I would like to thank Tara, Georgie, Raisa, and Eirene for the inspiration for opening up a linkup of my own. Tara and Georgie currently run Timeless Thoughts, while Raisa and Eirene ran My Favorite Things way back. There are other linkups that I may have missed or have not yet participated, so I apologize for not mentioning any one of them. I know I haven’t been blogging as much as I used to, and that I lost touch with participating with linkups, but as I’m able to squeeze some time, I finally have built one.
Because this is my very first entry to the linkup, this is all about my hometown in general.
My Hometown: Union City
For the first month of this linkup, September 2017, I will be introducing my home in broad form, starting with my hometown: a small suburban city called Union City.
Union City is located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and is a city of the Alameda County. The location is strategic (not sure if that’s the correct term for it), as it has central proximity to many of the Bay Area’s metropolitan major cities: some 20 miles north is Oakland, another 20-ish miles south is San Jose, and some 30 miles northwest across the bridge is San Francisco. Directly across from the San Mateo Bridge is San Mateo County, and a tad south of that is Palo Alto.1
Just zoom out and zoom in the Google Map below and you’ll see its exact location throughout the entire San Francisco Bay Area map.
For those who are into the tech industry and anything similar, the Bay Area is pretty much the capital city of today’s technology. After all, just some 20-something miles south of my hometown is San Jose, the capital city of Silicon Valley. Many of the techies here would often consider my hometown, and the other three suburbs bordering us (Newark, Fremont, Milpitas) are sometimes known as gateway cities to Silicon Valley. When I was growing up, just everyday, ordinary people with families live here. Today, the majority of the residents here work for those top tech companies because of its very close proximity. In case that you’re wondering, the closest tech corporation by distance to my house is Facebook, which is located across the Dumbarton Bridge, just at the tad tip at the border of the bridge. It would only take some 15-20 minutes drive from home when there’s no traffic, but it would also cost me $5 (bridge toll) also.
But it’s not because of the close proximity to the world’s top tech companies that I love living here in Union City. Even though today that my hometown has become a residential village for startup techies and their growing families of future techies,2 my hometown is surrounded by that homely, small town feeling, as well as natural beauty and atmosphere everywhere. My neighborhood has a close proximity to nature reserve areas of the San Francisco Bay shores, so when we have the right times, we get to hike or ride our bikes to the nature trails leading to the water. And right at our backyard, we get to see the majestic views of the green hills of Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park. If you are an early riser, you can bike (or drive if you’re too lazy to bike) your way up to these hills just to see the sunrise.
Another reason is the diverse cultures that reside in this little city alone. We have plenty of festivals that celebrate all types of diversity, from cultural diversity, religious diversity, and sometimes, just a low key celebration of what makes Union City so united. Speaking as a Filipino, we have a lot of spots that is reminiscent of the spots we were familiar with back in the Philippines. We have a Jollibee, a Chowking, a Red Ribbon, a Gerry’s Grill, and a Goldilocks. There are also independent Filipino-owned restaurants and all sorts of businesses too. And of course, we get a lot of different other places owned and operated by residents with different backgrounds. Lots of Vietnamese restaurants, Chinese restaurants (from many different regions of China), lots of sushi joints and three ramen joints, a few Hawaiian BBQ joints and a few poke joints, plenty of Indian and Middle Eastern places, cultural grocery stores from your general groceries, Asian groceries, to more specific ones like Filipino groceries and Indian groceries. Anyway, I’m mentioning too much food here.
To be honest though, Asians are the majority race here in Union City. Hispanics would be the second largest population. Whites, third. The rest include African-Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and others unmentioned.3
Last reason is what I’m going to cover a bit. Union City has a remarkable history, and because of its history, there is a certain spot in my neighborhood that is a registered California Historical Landmark (CHL).
My Neighborhood: Alvarado
So, Union City’s history in a nutshell goes like this.
Before 1959, there were three small historic towns: Alvarado, New Haven, and Decoto. In 1959, the three towns merged together and formed one city. Thus, the union in the name Union City came from. These three towns today are now referred to as districts or communities.4
My family and I first came here from the Philippines back in 1987, Valentine’s Day. My granduncle and his wife have been living in Union City for the longest time and that they owned two houses. Because their first house was already occupied by his wife’s relatives, we decided to stay and live at their second house because it was bigger and a it can occupy about eight people. We lived in that house for about four years until my parents were able to afford a house of our own, just a few blocks away from our first home.
Eventually, some 10+ years later, when my granduncle and wife decided to move back to their first house, my granduncle sold their second house to my father, thus we sold our house and then moved back to where we started. We still currently live in this same house that we can now call it our own.
The neighborhood that we live is located in the Alvarado district. Alvarado’s history is a bit more well-known than the histories of the other two districts for one reason. When Alameda County was formed back in 1853, some ten years before the Civil War, the town of Alvarado became its first county seat. The first courthouse was built just a short walk away from my house. The plaque and its designation as CHL (California Historic Landmark) #503.
Other than the marker, the rest of my neighborhood have been replicated through building restorations and preservations from the way Old Alvarado town used to look like. Here are a few more shots:
All of these shots here are all located on the same street (Smith Street), which is a very short walk in the park from my house. Across from my house is a park that I use as a shortcut to get to this street and all of its historic Victorian-style structures. But because of the crazy heat wave that we had last weekend, I didn’t spend much time taking pictures of more of these spots. But, I think this is more than enough to show how much of my neighborhood looks like without showing a picture of my house. 😄
My Home County: Alameda County
I’m not going to go through much detail, but, in a nutshell, Alameda County is one of the nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area. Alameda County is home to many known places: The University of California – Berkeley, is one of the world’s best-ranked universities for several times in the row along with its friendly rival across the bay, Stanford University. Up north borders Contra Costa County, down south borders Santa Clara County (also known in general as “Silicon Valley”).
Alameda County is also one of the counties in the Bay Area that has a history of strong liberalism back in the ’60s. The Black Panthers and the Free Speech Movement existed here and has become a part of our county history today. As an Alameda County local, if I come across some idiot bigot who tells me to “go home where I came from,” I would know that he/she isn’t from here and that I would consider him/her as an outsider.
The slang term hella (very, so, a lot, totally…) was originated here in Alameda County (East Oakland). Today, everybody in California (including the peeps down in L.A.) and probably the rest of the U.S. say this, but not as often as we do here. In the internet, I write in standard American English. If you meet me in real life, you’ll be really annoyed to hear me say this term hella when I talk to you. I grew up saying this term since I was a kid and I still use it today. My way of speech may have matured, but hella will never disappear from my speech. 😝
Peet’s Coffee & Tea was (historically?) the first commercial coffee shop, born in good ol’ Berkeley. They existed years before Starbucks Coffee first opened in Seattle. Apparently, according to history, the founders of Starbucks got their ideal model for a commercial coffee shop from Peet’s.7 Today, Starbucks is everywhere, while Peet’s remains here in the Bay Area, some locations throughout California, and probably a few outside California. Most people in the world may be familiar with Starbucks today, but we at Alameda County started the franchise coffee shop scene first.8
There are a lot of stories, a lot of “firsts,” and more that took place here at Alameda County, but they’re too long to list. Maybe I’ll mention a few more in the next future entries.
My Home Region: San Francisco Bay Area – Northern California
A lot of historians and others in general say that Northern California is, historically, the real California. I’m not claiming this myself, but I hear this all the time among the locals and even back in my school days. Then again, a lot of pre-modern California history took place here. The first two state capitals when California became a U.S. state are located here in Northern California. Sonoma was the first, followed by the current state capital, Sacramento, years later.
Much of Southern California (where two more known major cities, Los Angeles and San Diego, are located) are surrounded by deserts and barren land, plus the hot and burning weather doesn’t help much. A lot of the water, much of the most natural resources, as well as food sources, all come from Northern California, with some support from out-of-state water sources, such as the ones from Nevada and Arizona. We have plenty of farms and the most famous wine country in the U.S. is also located here (and to be more specific, the Bay Area). Much of our natural produce from milk and cheese and organic fruits and veggies are all locally sourced right here. We have farmers’ markets every single weekend in every single town and city, where our local farmers and artisans would come and sell their fresh produce to their fellow locals. My dad was able to buy a lot of the rare and exotic produce that were available in the Philippines but not commercially available anywhere in U.S. groceries through these farmers markets. (ie. ampalaya (bitter gourd), malunggay leaves (Moringa), ube (purple yam), to name a few) Because of this, a lot of inspired chefs and dietitians take advantage of our fresh produce availability, plus the fad diet fanatics (those going through detox diets, paleo diets, vegan, etc.) have huge benefits by living here.
The weather is unpredictable here. I wouldn’t call it perfect, but I will also admit that the Bay Area has some of the nicest weather here. It’s one of the reasons why our grounds are always fertile with so much abundance of produce and other natural resources. Our summers can sometimes be late (some refer to it as Indian Summer). Our winter seasons consist of the sun, gloomy cloudy skies, and, if we are blessed, rain. The only area in California that snows is the region by the borders of other states (Oregon, Nevada, Arizona).
I’ve often heard from many that the people of the Bay Area and/or Northern California are a people of creators and innovators. Well, one example as proof of that statement is Silicon Valley and the tech boom that is still currently going on today. Another proof is the abundance of many innovative but wholesome dishes and other foods that are fusions of other cultures but still ethnically from the Bay Area. For instance, the term California Cuisine, used to describe the local fare throughout the entire state of California, was born right here in the Bay Area.9
My Home is Never Perfect
No home is ever perfect. Not even here. It’s not paradise or utopia, but still one of the best places to live. There are some things to consider if you do decide to move here:
- OMG THE CRAZY ASS HIGH PRICES! When my family and I moved here, everything was standard. But, because the region’s rise in economic boom,10 everyone from out of the region or out of state or even out of the country began to move and settle down here to take a piece of that tech boom. As you know with the general rule of economics, high demand, low supply. How to increase the supply? Hike up the prices. That includes the state tax rate too.
- About 14-15% of the U.S. economy comes from California. By state ranking, California contributes the most to the federal economy, which means, a lot of the federal taxes we pay to the government goes to support the other states. But what do we get in return? Not much, sadly.
- THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE HERE! California is also the most populous state in the U.S. This also means, it is also the most diverse state in terms of the ways of living and cultural-wise. You hear many different languages spoken by many types of people in public without any shame. The most, of course, are English and Spanish.
- OMG CALIFORNIA DREAM! HOLLYWOOD! SANDY BEACHES! Not Hollywood. Go down some 500 miles down south to go to Hollywood. We do have sandy beaches here also and a healthy and vibrant surfing community, just like down there in “Surf City, USA.”
- DO YOU SEE CELEBRITIES EVERY DAY? Celebrities of what? There’s too many people here, it’s rather difficult for a local person to spot a celebrity— unless if that celebrity is a local himself. Have I met some celebrities myself in real life? Of course, not because they’re celebrities, but they just happen to be locals who are a little more known to the masses than the rest of the population. I’ve met some legends at a local festival event that my dad and I used to volunteer before… 😅
- Oakland, Richmond, and East Palo Alto are often a few of the cities in the Bay Area that are notorious for its gang-related crimes and murders. And then, there are also plenty of notorious murder cases throughout the history here too: the Zodiac Killer, the Jonestown Massacre, the assassination of Harvey Milk and George Moscone in San Francisco, and the list goes on. But don’t let these intimidate you. We rarely get these types of murder cases and other crimes here, especially in Union City. Throughout my 30+ years of living here in Union City, I only became aware of just one murder case that occurred here. I don’t remember when it took place though.
- TRAFFIC IS HORRIBLE HERE! … but our public transportation system is the best. Locally built, locally developed. Go BART!
- EARTHQUAKES AND TSUNAMIS. So, a known misconception among non-Western Americans or just anyone who don’t live in a state or country belonging to the Ring of Fire, is that our fatal disaster here are earthquakes. If not earthquakes, we get tsunamis. Now, even though both of these are very devastating, they don’t occur every single year unlike with typhoons and hurricanes. If we are talking about natural disaster-wise, I was born in a country in which earthquakes and tsunamis are common. My family and I migrated to yet another place in which earthquakes and tsunamis are common. The only difference is that the country I was born with have annual typhoons that can be deadly, while here in California, we have very little. We’ve had storms but not as devastating as earthquakes, but it doesn’t always happen yearly. And if an earthquake, a tsunami, or a storm hits California, it’s not always the same location where it happens. In short, it’s safe to live here.
That’s just the gist of how my home is like. There’s just way too many to talk about my hometown and my home region that it would take probably more than one book to just write about them, therefore I’ll just leave it as is and save for the others much later. I don’t have that much photos, but I think it’s more than enough to get the picture of how my hometown looks like. Next time, I’ll be sure to have more photos.
Come and Join in!
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On the sidenote...
- home to Stanford University, one of the best top universities in the world [↩]
- exaggerating on the latter, but this is also true [↩]
- Union City Facts and Figures, City of Union City Website [↩]
- Union City, California – Wikipedia. [↩]
- Union City Patch article [↩]
- California’s Haunted Bay Area! – Paranormal Encounters [↩]
- Peet’s Coffee – Wikipedia [↩]
- and (probably) don’t get enough credit for it… [↩]
- California Cuisine – Wikipedia [↩]
- you’d have to thank Silicon Valley for this… [↩]