Growing Up Filipina-American Part 1
Whether you're coming in from Instagram or you've pleasantly stumbled upon my blog: hello, hello & welcome!
Instead of our usual lifestyle & beauty weekend here at OHMYMARR, I've decided to publish a two-part segment talking about my personal experience growing up Filipina-American. With the recent growth of Asian American presence in the Hollywood film industry (yes- I'm talking about 'Crazy Rich Asians' showing in theaters this month. Oh! And don't forget the heartfelt short 'Bao' produced by Domee Shi that showed before 'The Incredible's 2'), I suddenly feel so empowered & proud of the heritage that makes me who I am.
I've decided to format the following questions in an interview-esk manner just to make it easier to follow. So here goes! Happy reading!
Growing up Filipina in America
Q: Where you born in the Philippines or US?
I was born in the Philippines! Also, if you're wondering- yes, I'm 100% Filipina :)
Q: What was the first thoughts you had about the US?
The air, bro. The air smelled so different. No exhaust smell. It just smelled so different. I thought the streets were so wide and clean. They were much less crowded compared to the city streets of the Philippines. Even though I saw that there were areas to walk parallel to the roads (sidewalks), I noticed barely anyone was using them. Also, for a little while, I thought Texas was in California so the whole time I was like, "OMG California is so great." I was a child, okay. My bad.
Q: Your Lunch Box Moment: who, what, when, where, & how did you respond?
My Lunch Box Moment happened during my first week of school. I remember; it was 1st grade. I'd made no friends yet so I was already so self conscious. I remember having rice with either chicken adobo, dinoguan or paksiw (if you know what any of these are... I know, I know. Like why would mother do that to me? She probably hadn't thought about it). I remember some kid sitting next to me making a comment about how much it smelled which made me feel really bad. I've never felt any feeling like it. I remember being a little confused because I would have the same thing at school before I moved to America and no one ever made a comment. After a few weeks of getting the same look from other kids & an increasing feeling of self consciousness, I finally asked my mother to make me sandwiches instead... To this day, I wonder what went on in her mind when I'd brought it up.
Q: Did you struggle with language? Thoughts about ESL classes (English as a Second Language)?
They teach English in the Philippines. So I picked up English in class pretty easily. I knew how to read, write and had skills to carry basic English conversation. I think I was kept in the ESL program until I was in the 4th grade which - at that point - was kind of pointless. There really was no need because I excelled in reading and writing compared to most of my classmates who weren't even in ESL. But I enjoyed the little break from class anyway so I didn't mind it at all. The real struggle concerning language turned out to be at home (which I'll be writing more deeply in Part 2, so stay tune ;D)
Q: Do you still speak Tagalog/Filipino Dialects? & how would you rate your fluency?
I actually asked my cousin in the Philippines (Hi, Mat! Salamat!) if he could rate my Tagalog fluency from 1 to 10, 10 being native speaker/fluent (+ writing + cultural ques). He rated me a 9. So I guess, I'll just go with that (?). Personally, I'd give myself a 7 only because I feel very limited in deep vocabulary.
Q: Was it hard to make friends?
Because Filipino-Americans can tend to stick with each other here in the US, it really wasn't hard for me to make friends within that demographic. Making friends at school was a completely different story. I think it was harder to make friends in elementary school than it was in high school. I moved around a bit between elementary schools so in addition to adapting to American culture, I also had to adapt to each student body. It was tough but you gotta do what y'gotta do, right?
Making friends in high school was definitely a lot easier. I found athletics & orchestra. I made friends that shared similar interests. I found friends who wanted to do well in academics like myself. And I also those who related to me culturally. Though I loved getting to know everyone, I found myself being more closely associated with the other Asians in high school. Yeah, I know I'm not helping any Asian stereotype right now, but this was my experience and it was very real for me. I was a minority that gravitated to other minorities in high school.
Q: Favorite thing(s) about being Pinoy?
1. FOOD. Filipino cuisine will always be my favorite. I have a 'hands down, forever and always, speak now & forever hold your peace' kind of love for it.
2. Community. I've always loved the Filipino community. There's always something going on during the holidays. Pretty much everyone is Roman Catholic so it's pretty lit at church too. And it's nice having friends who share similar experiences with you.
3. Humor. Pinoy humor is the best humor for me. It's a way for me to relate to my parents and enables me to instill Philippine heritage to my sibling. I'm so blessed that I'm still able grasp this part of my culture.
Q: Least favorite thing(s) about being Pinoy?
1. The pressure at Filipino parties. It's a constant "Tita, for the last time, I'm still in school & I'm applying to graduate school soon..." in my head.
The pressure to impress kind of builds after a while. It's like this unspoken competition between parents all the time about who's kid is better. Like can we please stop it. It's unbelievably tiring to answer the same questions over & over & over again. Gosh, I'm exhausted just writing about it. But anyway...
Q: Dating- what went down when your parents met your first bf. Do you just date Filipino?
They weren't excited at all. They really did not think it was anything until it "lasted" several years. They were very strict with the whole thing. But later on in different relationships, I think they loosened up about it.
Concerning the second part of this question, no, I do not. I dated one Filipino one time & that was an LOL NOPE. My current boyfriend is Korean & I love him lots. My parents also approve the heck out of him so that's a major plus. I'm sure they'd prefer me to date a Filipino just for better communication with the in-laws but at the end of the day, I know all they want is to see me happy & I'm the happiest and the healthiest I've ever been in a relationship. I think they can really see that.
If you made it this far - wow, you're great. :) Thank you for sharing part 1 of this weekend special with me. Because it was the first part, I decided to answer more fun & less daunting questions. But tomorrow, I'll be covering more "intense" questions for you so stay tuned 'cuz it's going to get real.
See you for 'Growing Up Filipina-American - Part 2'!
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