I’m pretty sure my genes explain my passion for the history of the entire world. My mother was born in the Philippines to a mostly Tagalog, partly Ilonggo mother and a Kapapampangan father—grandparents that along with their son, my uncle, mostly raised me. Before my Pops came into the world in Sidney, MT, his mother came from Poland and his dad Ireland. I graduated from the highly ethnically diverse Richard Gahr High School, the global microcosm where my classmates voted me “Most Unique” in 1999. But the best part about high school was meeting the world’s best scientist, who nowadays is busy keeping Lorenzo and Siddhartha from destroying too much property with me.
Over the next decade I worked in hotels and restaurants in the Artesia area to pay for college, rent, utilities, my second- and third-hand cars that often started, and other necessities while I attended Cerritos College for my first two years, CSUF, for my BA in history with minors in French and Spanish, CSUF again for my first MA in history (which molded me into the applicant to Ph.D. programs I became), and the Southern California School of Interpretation (to become a Spanish-language interpreter for the California courts, a goal I half-achieved by passing the state written exam). These were all places at which a working-class, characteristically irascible young man like me (back then!) could afford to pay tuition, with all due thanks to California’s Master Plan ;) My career at UCLA, beginning in 2007, made me into the historian I was destined to be. Since graduating in 2013, I have had the joy of practicing my craft in classrooms, scholarly fora, community spaces, virtual worlds, television, and elsewhere.
In my theoretical spare time I love to cook spicy and delicious things, play and watch basketball (go Clips and Lakers!), listen to independent Hip-hop, read things that aren’t academic, travel, and do other things people do. But all I ever really want to do is hang out with my family and friends, which is just as global as the things I study.
A note on the images: the image on top is a photograph I took of an drawing my old buddy Roxanne did for one of her class projects during our college years. The one on the right is a photo from our astrologically-sanctioned civil ceremony, which many but not all of our family members could attend, held in front of the basketball hoop that half a year's allowance paid for in the mid-1990s. And the one below is a picture of a hip, technologically-savvy representation of Jesus I caught at a university library in the Visayas.