40 Things About Being Filipino-American
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40 Things You'll Know To Be True If You're Filipino-American

Growing up with one foot in the Philippines and one foot on American soil is never easy. Luckily, you're not the only one going through these little Filipino problems alone!

40 Things You'll Know To Be True If You're Filipino-American

Growing up in a very culture-based Filipino household all while trying to adapt to American culture has always been a struggle for me. I guess you can say being mixed in two cultures is like having a permanent identity crisis. However, as I meet more Filipino-Americans, I've realized that my experience isn't unique. There are hundreds of us who have gone through the struggle to balance two cultures which you love. The fact of the matter is that you don't have to choose! But here's a few things I found to be a common experience with many Filipino-Americans.

1. Explaining how the American Education System works to your parents for the 500th time and how it’s NOT the same as the Filipino Education System


Apparently, a 4.0 in the Philippines is the lowest score while a 1.0 is the highest. Go figure.

2. Begging your mom to go to the doctor but she keeps putting “Katinko” "TigerBalm" or “Vicks” on you instead and then suggests you get a “hilot”


I seriously have no idea what these things are actually made of and how they've achieved these healing powers. By the way, a "hilot" means some kind of special massage that can "cure" some sicknesses. Some people say it's just superstition. What do you believe?

3. When your stomach hurts and your Lola says: “Lawayan kita”


"Lawayan kita" it a Filipino superstition (but I swear it works) where someone licks their finger and spreads the saliva on your stomach in the shape of a cross when you have a stomach ache.

4. Having to answer “So, what course are you taking?” to your Titos and Titas and facing their disappointment when you don’t say “Nurse," “Doctor” or “Engineer”


Course = major, and for most Filipinos, a major isn't valid if it's not in the health field.

5. Having to hear, “My God! Tumaba ka!” every time you see your family after a while 


Filipinos are renowned for their brutal honesty and having no filter at all. In American culture, this can be very offensive, but in my culture, it's a normal greeting. Fun stuff.

6.But also having to hear, “Why are you not eating? You don’t like Tita’s Pancit??”


They call you fat, but also keep putting plates of food in front of you. So you have to choose. You either get fat or offend your Auntie.

7.Constantly being compared to your 500+ apparently more successful cousins


"Why don't you go to the nursing school like your Kuya Ramil! He is also Valedictorian, you know that?"

8.One word: "Glutathione" or "Gluta"


Filipinos are OBSESSED with lighter skin. I personally resent this part of my culture. Filipinos are on a spectrum of pigments. We shouldn't idealize lighter skin and demonize darker pigments.

9.“Wait you’re Asian? How come you have a Hispanic/Latino last name?”



10.  Having to answer “Do you have boypren/girlpren?” and hearing "Hay nako, binata/dalaga ka na!” at every family gathering


Don't forget to add in: "Pinish eskool pirst ha!"

Translation: Do you have a gf/bf? "Omg, you're a grown young man/woman now!"

11. When you so much as exhale and your parents think you're being disrespectful


The classic strict Filipino parent is by far the scariest thing I have ever encountered in my life.

12. Asian or Pacific Islander Debate


This one can go for ages. Can we just self-identify ourselves already? All of these labels are social constructs anyway.

13. Feeling too American to be Filipino, and being too Filipino to be American


14. Your non-Filipino friends looking at you as if you were an animal when you tell them you eat with your hands

"Kamayan na!"

15. Explaining to your non-Filipino friends why they have to use "tsinelas inside the house and leave their sneakers outside the house


House slippers and outside slippers!! Get with the program people, it's much cleaner.

16. Panicking when you can’t find the thing your mom asked you to find because she pointed with her lips


Then she'll pull the "if I come over there and find it, you're going to be in SO much trouble"

17.  “Close the light” and “Open the aircon”


WHY do we do this? It's screwing up my English essays.

18. Sneezing like“AH-CHOO” in front of your American friends and “AH-CHING” in front of your Filipino family


19. Explaining to your non-Filipino friends why there's a bucket in your bathroom


It's called a tabo, and yes we wash our booties after pooping.

20. When all your cousins know how to sing or dance and you’re just there like


Filipinos have a stereotype of always being talented. Where do you fall? Because I don't belong in any category.

21.  When all your Titos and Titas flex their “Luwee Bitton” and their “Chedeng” cars but pull that, “Utang na lang dis Christmas anak”


Translation: Louis Vitton, "Chedeng" = Luxury Cars , "Utang na lang dis Christmas anak"= I'll just owe you this Christmas, child

22.  Praying to God that your titos and titas don’t see you when they pull out the Magic Mic


What Filipino doesn't love Karaoke?!

23.  Explaining what “Puto” means in Tagalog to your Hispanic/Latino friends


24. When you graduate and they ask you “Are you pirst honor??”


First Honor=Valedictorian, Second Honor= Salutatorian

25. Christmas begins in September 


These Christmas lanterns are called parols!

26. When you forget to make rice and you hear the car pulling up on the driveway


27. When your non-Filipino friends come over and they ask for snacks and all you have is Boy Bawang


Their breath is about to smell delicious.

28. When everyone brings Lunchables to the field trip and you have adobo and a tiny banana


100000X better than crackers, fake cheese, and mystery meat.

29. You when "UBE" became a food trend 


We've been on that boat since we were born. Please don't go trying to make into something it wasn't meant to be. And while we're at it, stop trying to make "contemporary" halo-halo

30. When your American friends make that face when you say you eat dinuguan or balut


Seriously, have some respect for culture. Do we make that face when y'all eat those processed chicken nuggets?

31. Going to the Filipino store to buy lotion, but all you find are skin-whitening creams



32.  You when someone of Filipino-descent is recognized



33. You after “blessing” all 10000 of your elders at yet another family party


"Blessing" means you literally take an elder's hand and bring it to your forehead as a sign of respect.

34.  When your American friends want to get brunch at an organic gluten-free hipster café, but you just want spam and rice


35.  Running out of Banana Ketchup so you have to use the untouched Tomato Ketchup in the pantry


36.  Sitting at the airport surrounded by 20 “balikbayan” boxes


Giving back to your community and family is always a priority, especially if you have the means to do so.

37. “Pinch your nose like dis so it will be “matangos”


Filipinos love European features, and one of their obsessions are "pointy" or "sharp" noses with a pronounced bridge.

38. You’re the plug for anyone who needs a caregiver or nurse


39.  Manila Mangoes are the best mangoes don’t @ me


40.  Family is always first...or should I say, PIRST


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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