I remember landing in the Philippines last summer in 2017 for an Anakbayan Exposure Trip feeling so othered, so privileged, so American. But kasamas (comrades) on the ground swiftly taught me to shift my Western framework - that this is exactly what US imperialism and colonial mentality does - it makes Filipinos abroad disconnect from our identity as Filipinos. They told me that it was incorrect to think that just because I was born in the US that my activism was “in solidarity” with Filipinos in the PH - I am a Filipina who was displaced from her homeland, so our struggles and the main enemy remain the same. I am not in solidarity with my own people … I am part of them. The way we organize will particularize to where we’re at, but I must never think I’m not part of the same revolution. It can be so easy to think that the Philippines is another world away.
I am definitively half Filipino and half of other traceable ethnicities, including white. Interestingly, my ethnicity is entirely contextual, not determined by the genes inherited from my Caucasian father and my Filipino mother, but by the people who surround me. I like to let people guess. For instance, in Hawaii, people think I’m Japanese or Korean, often mistaking my name for a Japanese word. In Seattle, people are a little broader in their assumption, assuming that I’m “some kind of Asian”. My skin, too tan to be white, but too white to be brown, is as ambiguous as my facial features.
Living in this gray area can be exhausting. I’m certainly not white enough to be white, easily spotted for my other-ness in the white community. No matter my mannerisms, pattern of speech, or even the way I
To me, being Filipino American is all about legacy. From everything you do, to who you surround yourself with, to where you come from, to how you want make the world a better place. Filipino Americans always think about how the traditions of constant sacrifice, endless hard work, and unconditional love will inspire their legacy to live on forever.
Learn more about Cornelius! Cornelius Cambronero is a freshman at Whitworth University currently majoring in English with interest in poetry, songwriting, and song lyric / musical analyzation. He’s a musician, poet, and model from the South Seattle area with a passion for youth representation in social activism.
Defining one’s identity is a very personal journey, and my journey continues to evolve and change each day. I grew up in Seattle, in an area with few Filipina/o Americans, as an only child to immigrant parents. I went to the local catholic school, where only four of us in my class were Filipina/o American and although we had each other, it was a challenge. As many of us who are children of immigrant parents do, I felt las if I lived a dual life — one as an American (or as American as possible) at school and as a Filipina at home. At home, I heard Tagalog regularly, I ate sinigang, adobo, pinakbet, and rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At school, I brought my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I spoke English like any other kid in the class, I talked about the same TV shows that everyone
For me, Fil-Am is a Filipino living in America who falls into a lot of intersectionalities with race, religion, age, sexual orientations, career path, economic status, etc. Since there’s a limited amount of Filipino Americans with minimal history, Filipino’s battle the oppression of incorporating our American views with our Filipino values. Since there are less people to relate to, our generation is still crafting the definition and understanding of what it means to be a Filipino. Some of the things that have helped me shape my Filipino identity is finding a sense of community. Being a first generation Filipino-American, my parents were the first to migrate here to America leaving all their friends and family behind (as many of us). Growing up, I realized American families would get together
Being Filipino American to me means being resilient and building community. Resiliency comes from my mother who moved to the United States in the early 1990s to work a job and to save money so that she can bring her two daughters to the United States to have a good education.With that came many sacrifices including working low-paying jobs learning a new languageIn a country where she knew no one. One of the Tagalog words that comes to mind when I think of my mom had a similar to resiliency is matapang, Which also means hard core and stubborn. The other is building community. When I move to the United States, titas and titos, who were not my blood relatives welcomed me into their homes and their communities and i know that we could not have made it in America without them. This is what it means to be Filipino-American.
In my view, based on my experiences, being a FA means honoring the values and cultural norms that come with identifying with the Filipino race. This can mean many different things for most and that's okay because it honors that diversity in a manner that reflects those varying cultural, and philosophical norms practiced in the thousands of Philippine Islands.
Being "American" is wonderfully rich because the very foundation of America was built on immigrants. The richness of being "American" is different for each person too, but the commonality that connects each American experience is the notion that each immigrant sets off a chain of events that directly affects the second generation and so forth. When each generation begins to honor both the Filipino
NWFASA honors Filipino American History month! Tomorrow, October 1, we will be launching the first piece to our four part Fil-Am history month project! Everyday in the month of October we will be publishing new content within the spectrum of Fil-Am identity, culture, and memories.
Part 1: Biculturalism by Ivie-Fleur Rabon
A word from the author... “I've always been proud of being a Filipino-American. Like Carlos Bulosan before me, America is in the heart. But at the same time, being immersed in a different culture is more than simply a type of social benefit or some sort of enrichment. For me, it has become this invisible tie that binds me to my family.”