Tita (in the PI): How are you doing? Me (FilAm, not fluent in Tagalog): Heto buhay pa. Trying to practice my Tagalog a little. Not so great with grammar yet d: Kumusta po kayo, Tita? Tita: wow thats great! live and love your roots. okay naman po, hope to see you again.
“Live and love your roots”
I’m so used to being ostracized by other Filipinx folks for not knowing Tagalog or not being “Filipinx enough” because I was born in the states and here my Tita is, validating my “Filipinx-ness” making me feel loved and supported while she’s on the other side of the world, thousands of miles away ~
Mini Tagalog Lesson:
Heto buhay pa = Here, alive Kumusta po kayo = How are you? (with po, signifies sense of respect)
Feast Of The Seven Fishes 12.18.16 - International District & Beacon Hill, WA.
Last night, Derek & I attended “Feast Of The Seven Fishes,” a Filipino-themed pop-up dinner we were to be selling our work at. Our dress-up theme was “F/Pilipinya.” 🍍 We take really good photos (as per usual), so I thought I’d combine them all in a cute photo set.
Everything about the event was so touching. Food, particularly in Filipino culture, plays such a huge role. A Filipinx person will always ask you, “Did you eat yet?” or “Are you hungry?” It’s our way of looking out for one another. The (Filipina) folks who hosted the dinner went out of their way to make sure we were fed, and Derek & I got so emotional because we felt their care - it felt familial, familiar, genuine, and warm. It felt like we had always known them. Filipino folk songs were played live throughout the whole night on piano & guitar, shimmering patrols hung from the ceilings & windows, palm & banana leaves and tropical flowers graced the tables & beams. Tita Julie, the chef’s mother, was accommodating, sweet, and in typical Filipina mom mode, AKA the BEST. It was so magical. It felt like being home, if only for just one evening.
I’m always reminded of reasons that I love being Filipina, and it’s nights like last night that I am grateful for the familial aspects of our culture, the ways it feels like we’ve always known each other, and the genuine care that comes with the presentation & serving of our food. Thank you Melissa, Gina, and Tita Julie! ❤️
My turntables & books came in today 👌
Books/ Little Brown Brother: How the United States Purchased and Pacified the Philippine Islands at the Century’s Turn, True Version of the Philippine Revolution, Pre-Spanish Philippines, Filipino Peasant Women: Exploitation and Resistance, Way of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings from the Philippine Ancestral Traditions, and Babaylan: Filipinos and the Call of the Indigenous
I had just returned from a month’s stay in the Philippines. Via email, I had a brief discussion with another Filipino-American friend. I post this in hopes our dialogue will stir other Filipino-Americans to contribute to our narrative. Here is what transpired:
Growing up, did you ever feel a deep longing to know more about your heritage (culture, language, ancestry, etc) or the Philippines in general? Or were you very familiar with it? If not, then how did you deal with those feelings of wanting to learn more?
Yes. As a child I grew an uncomfortable awareness of a cultural gap: not quite Filipino, not quite American. Navigating this ambiguous realm nurtured a longing to understand the deeper implications behind the values inculcated by my parents: I wanted to understand the directions and know where I was being directed to. I wasn’t too acquainted with my heritage, but my parents imparted to me hints of some grand adventure by means of the most unsuspecting source: storytelling. But storytelling almost always had but one executive purpose: it was a pesky taskmaster that guilted me into petty chores and responsibilities by constructing a dire caricature of the “hard” life in the Philippines with scenes of hunger, toil, and sacrifice. These sepia-tainted glimpses of my parents’ experiences were like underexposed film of a vivid legacy that instilled within me a persistent curiosity which I later craved liked treasure. As I grew older, the ‘cultural gap’ developed into greater prominence. When confronted with moral conundrums, seemingly impossible choices, and reconciling a fragmented identity, I felt certain longings in my heart could only be addressed through the discovery of my heritage. And here we are.
I don’t know about you, but I chase heritage with deep agony in my heart. I seek not the explanations for the wonderfully obvious (why I can’t speak Tagalog, understanding where my work ethic, dedication, and value for family and education come from… crap like that), but for the insidious molestation of goodness. I understand my story- and Philippine history itself- is rife with heartbreak and pain. Betrayal and consequence. Taboo and secrets. Unconfessed sin and perpetual unforgiveness. To me, unearthing history is more so an autopsy than it is a treasure hunt and for this, I carefully creep toward the past as if I were out ready it for a proper burial.
I know that the Phils is pre-dominantly Catholic, but do you see a difference between the traditional Catholic culture there and what other people would consider being a “follower of Christ”? Idk if i’m the only one who thinks this, but I feel as if my family views Christianity (my family is Catholic in denomination) as more of a tradition - whereas I view the idea of Christ as something very intimate and personal. My family and I are different in that aspect, and in the Philippines It seems to be a cultural thing as well as a faith thing. Do you find this to be a thing as well?
There is certainly a difference between Catholicism and Protestantism; Protestantism is literally the “protest” of what is believed to be an erroneous Catholicism. This is more of a universal phenomenon than it is an ethnic and cultural one and is certainly not confined within the boundaries of the Philippines. Sucks to hear about your family. But I wanted to mention that not all Catholics- or Filipino Catholics- treat their religion like strict tradition. I know Catholics that view their perspective of Christ as an “intimate and personal relationship” as you say. If your question was “why do Filipino Catholics practice Catholicism like a tradition,” I don’t know and I wouldn’t know where to begin.
As a young Christian, I was thinking about the way the teachings of Christ are - but also how that nature differs drastically from the family culture I grew up in. I know all people are different - but I have noticed a pattern of patriarchy, gossip, domination, emphasis on grades, etc culture-wise in my family and sometimes also in greater Filipino culture - it became considered a norm. I feel like no one understands me because of the way I want to live my life as a Christian in my family sometimes, only because our values are of course different. Did you ever witness that as well growing up, or felt like you had to break out of that culture? or was there a different experience you had ?
What do you mean when you say “but also how that nature differs drastically?” What do you mean by “nature?”
In addressing your “pattern of patriarchy, gossip (…) considered norm,” these may or may not be common patterns in stereotypical Filipino families and if so, they are- as you mention- a reflection of things we value. Herein lies the crux of a much deeper discussion: what are values, where do they come from, how are they shaped, and why do they matter? I too witnessed these trends growing up but I wouldn’t venture to say I had to “break out of that culture.” It sounds arrogant. This is because I think relevance of values change in relation to the context of the environment. Let’s take patriarchy for example. In the Philippines, patriarchy is a byproduct of a cultural value. But it loses its utility in say, an environment which has no incentive for (or even discourages) patriarchy in which case, the value still exists, but it holds a lesser relevance in terms of shaping our behavior. Therefore, sometimes, values are not necessarily things we “break out of,” for values are but reflections of our interpretation of reality and the world. Rather, in order for values to be “broken,” our worldview needs to change. If we’re talking Christian worldview, then patriarchy (men holding exclusive power and dominance over their families and spheres of influence), gossip, and domination (assuming absolute power over another person) are not okay. One can’t rationally choose to change what they value unless their perspective of reality has shifted: it’s like one can’t suddenly decide that breathing is bad for them unless they believed what they were breathing isn’t air at all, but poison.
Lastly, your family’s values aren’t inherently yours. There are things you will naturally accept and reject as dictated by your worldview and conscience. You won’t be understood sometimes and that’s fine; as Christians, I believe there is a generative opportunity in the midst of clashing values. Be reminded the essence of ministry is to share the love of Christ to those who don’t share your values (or even go against them); a precursor to this is to see people as Christ sees them; valuable, loved, and desired.
Growing up as a Filipino
kid in America who loved reading comic books, I didn’t see original, leading Asian
(especially Filipino) superheroes in the mainstream. When you don’t see
yourself or your experiences reflected in heroes in pop culture, it’s damaging.
Now that I’m older and see that not much has changed, I realize how important
it is to create narratives for the underrepresented, especially the next
generation of kids who don’t feel like they belong. In honor of Asian-American &
Pacific Islander Heritage month, here is what I imagine a mainstream Filipino superhero
in America might look like.
I’ve been able to talk about being Asian, and I’ve been able to talk about being a woman. But I’ve never been able to talk about being Filipino. I never realized how significant my culture has been in shaping who I am today.
“Throughout high school, I had an eating disorder… because, you know… my mother wanted me to be thin. But I’m just a big boned person. And for some reason I just developed a fascination with the moon. That’s just like… it changes every single day and like sometimes it’s not even there, but it’s going to be whole again. Basically, I wrote a letter to my younger self from today: Like the moon, there are days you’ll feel half, there are days you’ll feel a quarter, and there are days that you won’t feel like yourself at all… but just remember that after every cycle you’ll always feel whole again. So love every phase of your body.
I just love the moon, and I didn’t know what I wanted my first tattoo to be. I knew I wanted the moon phases, but I hated the typical ‘moon phases down my leg,’ so I drew it myself and I designed it and I was like, ‘fuck it, you know what, I’m gonna get it tomorrow!’ And I got it the next day and I was like, ‘Oh my god what did I just do? Oh noooo,’ haha.
And I love it, I remember being so in love with it for the weeks after and I’m still in love with it right now. I like it because it has the moon phases, but also because I did it myself“
*DO NOT DELETE CAPTION* “May We Raise Them” By Raychelle Duazo
Something a lil different for PFAD.
The top photo is from the 60s, and it depicts my Ninang, Lola, and Mama. My Mama told me this was taken for her high school graduation. Her & her family are from Olongapo. So pretty, no? It’s easily one of my top 5 favorite photos ever.
There are plenty of things I will never understand as a Filipina growing up in America. My mother tells me stories still. And there are plenty of barriers between us – being queer, being weird in general, being so unconventional about everything – that act as a precursor to angst, microaggressions, and misunderstanding, but! But. Despite everything, I have so much love for these people, especially my Mama, for giving me something very great.
When she was younger, she wanted to be a doctor, but my Lola never took her seriously because they were poor. But growing up, my mother made absolutely sure that I knew I could be anything I wanted & that I could have everything I wanted. She reminded me all the time, and like most POC moms, signed me up for everything: art classes (thanks Ma), piano lessons, swimming lessons…she even sought out art contests for me to enter.
My mother told me I was “…a genius, sobrang matalino, at mahusay sa lahat. Sana pwede ka maging famous” and helped instill in me dreams & goals bigger than this entire universe. Can you believe that? As a girl, as someone’s daughter – that’s so fucking powerful. And I still hold onto that, every single day. I still want to be all of it.
Love to my Mama, for pushing through life even though she didn’t get to fulfill some of her dreams; for making space, giving me ambitions (and a big ego tbh), and consistently telling me I can achieve mine. Such a real love.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.