The Coney Islander Crest
20+ years ago, a small group of hard working immigrants from the Philippines came to America around the same time to fulfill the “American Dream.” They all worked in the same hospital – Coney Island Hospital to be specific. The guys started to play in local basketball leagues and the name of their team was the Coney Islanders; obviously because most of them worked in Coney Island Hospital. Ever since then, the name of that team has stuck as the name of their clan.
The 1st generation of Coney Islanders all started to have kids, and I happen to be one of them. Thus, the beginning of the 2nd generation of Coney Islanders was born. I grew up with this 2nd generation of Coney Islanders. Holiday parties, birthday parties, camping trips…any special occasion or special celebration, I remember they were always there. I have footage from my 1st birthday party…and they were all there.
We went through that stage where the boys were always with the other boys; playing video games, basketball, manhunt, tag, football; and the girls were always with the girls…what exactly they did, I have no idea because I was never with them LOL.
And then we hit a stage where we didn’t see each other as much as we use to, around my middle school/junior high years. My family and the Galang family joined SIPAG, the Belasoto families joined the FAME/Banduria group in Brooklyn, the Bourne family moved upstate, the Zozobrados and the Lapids were doing their thing with karate. We were all doing our own things and started to drift apart.
Around the time I entered high school, I remember that was when we all slowly started to reconnect. I think that was when Manny Pacquiao was at the prime of his career, and the so-called “Pacquiao holidays” happened annually. Despite the lost years in my pre-teenager years, the reconnection was simple and easy, as we all bonded and clicked as if we were always seeing each other through those lost years.
The bond within our group continued to expand during my high school years. I personally think during those years was when the group first started to grow as a family. We all have our own blood cousins, but most of our relatives are either in the Philippines or are not driving distance from where we all live, so the Coney Islanders were basically the only family that many of us had locally.
The peak of everything was the summer I was going to Albany for my freshman year. That was when we weren’t growing as a group of friends anymore; we became one true family. We all genuinely care about each other, we’re always there for each other, we all support each other, we would all fight and die for one another.
What makes this group remarkable to me is that though we come from similar backgrounds and our parents are all strict/were strict growing up, we are all individually unique and our personality traits complement each other. We have our share of athletes, musicians, fighters, nerds, dancers, Greeks, etc. Similar backgrounds, different personalities, one family.
This crest basically embodies the Filipino flag, the Filipino sun and the Coney Island Wonder Wheel. Even though most of us are not from Coney Island, the origin of our family was based off the name of our dads’ basketball team back in 1993…exactly 20 years ago.
For me personally, this is more than just a crest, more than just a symbol. This tattoo represents every single Coney Islander…from both the 1st generation and 2nd generation. They are apart of my identity and who I am as a person. They are the family I grew up with, one that I am so blessed and fortunate to have. Words cannot describe how damn proud I am to have this on my body.
There’s a saying that goes, “It’s not about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who came into your life and never left.” Well, this group of individuals came into my life right when I was born, and they have never abandoned me since. I know I can depend on them when I need them most, just as they know I would do the same for them.
I love my family. I love my Coney Islanders.
P.S. If you’ve taken the time to read this, you can obviously see how much the tattoo and these people mean to me.