Phillip Cabrera's Blog

March 7, 2011

Celebrity in Vietnam

It sounds conceited when I say this, but I am a superstar out here. The people absolutely love me here. We’ve been helping the people and the kids out here and even though they’re here for the medicine, they’re getting a special treat because they are getting to see someone like me. A big guy like me isn’t common out here. I’m told that many of these people have never seen someone of my size and more than likely never will again.

Puppy in Bac Kan, Vietnam All the kids were having a blast with me before they went in to see the medical team. I'm so lucky to have been able to bring a smile to those kids' faces when they don't have much to smile about.

When I hear something like that and after experiencing the genuine admiration from both children and adults, it’s truly humbling to me. I’ve heard that people out here would love me but I just brushed it off because of the environment that I was raised in, where being fat was always looked down upon.

Although it is flattering with this extra attention, it could be for the wrong reasons. Perhaps the Vietnamese think I am wealthy and am doing well for myself if I am able to have the luxury of being able to get big this. But they don’t know the circumstances and I don’t even think they would be able to grasp that I am not wealthy where I come from. I live on student loans in order to survive. I probably won’t make enough money to survive comfortably until well after I am done with school.

Even though I am a rock star out here, it is under false pretenses. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like the attention. I love the fact that I am able to bring a smile to kids’ faces. I just stand there and they smile or laugh. My friends back home won’t be able to relate to the fact that I have been offered several girls to marry since I arrived. It’s eye-opening to see people offer their daughters to a complete stranger that they’ve only seen for a minute.

I will be doing all that I can to help bring a smile to peoples’ faces, even if it means letting them poke or grab me just to see if I am real; or if it means for me to just stand there and play with kids. While it’s not much, I think a smile out here can get someone very far.