U.S. Asian Wire Exclusive: Letter to Tim Lincecum’s Mother (Nanay)

Dear Mrs. Lincecum:

We in San Francisco are very proud of your son for his hard work and spirit in helping bring the World Series title to the people of our city and to the entire Bay Area. The Filipino Community is proud of Tim not only for his excellence as a pitcher but for his humility and the graceful manner in which he has carried himself. Many words have been used describe your son—“The Freak”, “The Franchise”. Awards have been bestowed upon him—the Cy Young Award (twice) among others. There are many other adjectives that can be used to describe your son and the things he has and is yet to accomplish. Rather than use words that have already been said, let me just say that we are very proud of your anak, your son.Tim Lincecum

I read that your family is from Stockton, your family’s roots go back to Hawaii and Mindanao and Cebu. Much of this information is not known or written about, but to our community it is just as important as World Series titles. As you probably know, the connection between San Francisco and Stockton is deep in the history of our people. It is well known that Tim’s father taught him the mechanics of pitching, laying the foundation that would see him achieve greatness in baseball—unprecedented for a player of such a young age. He was told by major league scouts that he was too small to succeed but he overcame it and rose to be the best practitioner of his craft. Watching him pitch is a thing of beauty—the twist of the waist, the dip of the shoulders, the release. It is as if the movement of the Filipino workers of Hawaii—the Sakadas—who live in your son’s bones, is the wind pushing him forward in his dance on the pitcher’s mound. We dance with him and he dances in our minds.

SF Giants & Philippine FlagsI work as a volunteer at the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. The foundation works to preserve the memory of the manongs who fought their eviction from the International Hotel in 1977. As I sat helping elderly Filipino residents of San Francisco’s South of Market District complete affordable housing applications, the radio was tuned to a Giant’s game. It was towards the end of the season and the Giants were playing a pair of games with the San Diego Padres. The atmosphere in the office was alive. Let’s go Timmy! My officemates cried while working to find our manongs (elders) a decent place to live.

A professor recently wrote that Tim Lincecum’s family background is very much the story of Filipino American history. From migration to Hawaii as part of a generation of Sakadas—young workers recruited to toil on Hawaii’s sugar plantations—to Stockton where a once thriving Filipinotown is being reborn through the work of young activists who refuse to let it be erased from memory—your son’s achievement is a part of our achievement and struggle as a community in this country.

Again Mrs. Lincecum, thank you for all the time and effort you gave that has not been written about. I think of how Tim spoke of his Lolo (Grandfather) Balleriano, who passed away in 2007. He was having trouble in a game because his Grandfather’s passing lay heavy on his mind. He said that he looked to God and to the past and to relatives that have passed on for strength and guidance. To me, that said more about your son than any World Series title. It means more.

© 2010 Tony Robles

About the Author

PhotobucketBorn and raised in San Francisco, CA, Anthony D. Robles is a writer and activist whose work is highly influenced by his family, culture, and the working class community. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including DisOrient, Journalzine, Pinoy Poetics, The Asian Pacific American Journal, and the anthology of Filipino American, writing Seven-Card Stud and Seven Manangs Wild (2002). In Lakas and the Manilatown Fish, his first children’s book, Robles found inspiration from his own son, Lakas, to whom he first told the tale as a bedtime story, and his uncle, poet Al Robles, one of the original Manilatown manongs. Lakas and the Makibaka Hotel is Robles’ latest book, starring the same indomitable youth, who takes readers on a new adventure, transforming one community’s struggle into a celebration of activism, spirit, and song. Through both books, Robles hopes children will learn about the power of imagination and understand their own power to create new possibilities. He is also co-editor of POOR Magazine, an indigenous newsmaking circle in San Francisco that redefines what is and who creates news. Anthony Robles currently resides in San Francisco, CA.

Photo Credits:
Arjay Fronda — Tim Lincecum on Cable Car at Parade
Russell Robles — SF Giants & Philippine Flags

U.S. Asian Wire — Tony Robles, author