Navigating The Grey Area Of My Identity As A Filipino-American
Start writing a post
Community

Navigating The Grey Area Of My Identity As A Filipino-American

I learned that October has been nationally recognized as Filipino American History Month since 2009 for the first time this past month, and it's made me realize exactly how much I still don't know about my own culture and heritage.

38
Navigating The Grey Area Of My Identity As A Filipino-American

I was only 23 months old when I moved to America with my parents, in search of the promise of a better life that many immigrants seek from the United States. It's safe to say that I have no recollection of my life before America, since I wasn't even two years old at the time. Nevertheless, I grew up knowing that I was from the Philippines--my parents definitely did not let me forget where we came from. We spoke a mixture of Tagalog and English at home, ate delicious Filipino dishes daily, and made frequent trips back to the Philippines to visit relatives during summer vacations. My parents would also tell me stories about great Filipino historical figures that my parents would tell me from time to time over a meal, and gush about all the places in the Philippines that they wanted me to see in person one day.

Consequently, being a Filipina was something I took great pride in when I was younger. Every time I saw, read, or heard anything referring to the Philippines, I would immediately take great interest in it, no matter how brief the reference was. In younger me's head, I was undeniably Filipina, and the boundaries set by country borders and oceans couldn't do a thing to make me doubt that.

As I grew older, though, I no longer felt like I could resonate with my identity as just a Filipina. The more I returned to the Philippines during summer vacation, the more I felt the distance between my cousins and I growing. I realized there were so many aspects of life in the Philippines that were foreign to me---whether it be seeing my cousins wear uniforms that corresponded to the school they attended with an ID card around their necks at all times or hearing sophisticated Tagalog words that I couldn't understand. I started to notice that living in America meant that I experienced a life that was way different from the life that I got to "borrow" when I visited my relatives in the Philippines.

For the first time in my life, I started feeling like an outsider in the country I considered my home. I began feeling like an impostor in my birth country, and it made me realize that I had a side of me that was also undeniably American. But I didn't feel like I could call myself an American yet---after all, I was still a Filipino citizen. I just happened to live in America.

Since then, every time I return to New York City after a summer in the Philippines feels more lonely than ever before. Not only do I have to leave behind my relatives, but it feels like I have to leave my "Filipino side" behind. Once I step foot into JFK International Airport, I have to snap back into the reality that consumes most of my life--one where I am not surrounded by fellow Filipinos as often (especially none my age), one where English takes over as my primary language, and one where it felt like I exist as more Filipino than American in the eyes of other people.

My identity as a Filipino-American is one I continue to grapple with today. I didn't even feel like I could consider myself Filipino-American until I acquired American citizenship from my parents, who were naturalized in 2017. But now that I'm in college, I've joined two Filipino-American student clubs where I feel like I'm in communities full of people who understand the identity crises that I've gone through. It was from them that I first learned about October being Filipino American History Month, and already I feel more well-equipped to navigate the grey area that is being a Filipino-American. After learning about US history in school for almost 14 years, I feel compelled to learn more about Filipino history, especially as it pertains to the Philippines' relationship with the United States and the history of the Filipino-Americans who came before me.

To my fellow Fil-Ams out there, if you've ever felt a struggle like this, just know that you are definitely not alone. <3

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

TikTok Made Me Buy It: Flawless's Skincare Fridge

I bought and tested one of TikTok's popular products so you don't have to.

61800

I spend a lot of time on TikTok and I never know whether the products I see are worth it or not, especially when I'm looking at the price. For Christmas, my aunt got me a gift card to Ulta. I didn't know what to buy. I have way too many palettes and lipsticks. I have my essentials. What else could I need? Then it hit me that I saw a lot of people these past few months showing off their skincare fridges. So, the second I thought of it I went on the Ulta app and bought it. So, here are my thoughts.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

37 Cute And Unique Pinterest Board Titles

Let's be real, the hardest part about Pinterest is thinking of a cute title for your board.

31741

I don't know about anyone else but I have recently become re-obsessed with Pinterest. Like, I am spending a stupid amount of time on Pinterest daily now. While I have been binging Pinterest I have found that I love making cute and aesthetic boards but it is SO hard to come up with a name to match it. So, I scoured the internet and my brain for you. Happy pinning!

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

This Is What Type Of Person You Are Based On Your Favorite Cereal

Your cereal preference reveals more than you think.

19574
Photo by Nyana Stoica on Unsplash

Whether you eat cereal for breakfast or a late-night snack, you probably have a favorite. Little did you know that what you prefer says a lot about your personality.

Keep Reading... Show less
Alexis Hoffman

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know that cutting out social interaction has taken its toll.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Asked Instagram How 2020 Was, And Maybe It Wasn't The Worst Year Ever

2020 is a year to remember but it's not as bad as we made it out to be.

47849

It's finally 2021 and we're honestly all just happy that 2020 is over. I decided to ask my Instagram followers how they felt about 2020 and the results were a little more mixed up than expected.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ever since I watched "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days," I've been a major Matthew McConaughey fan. I've seen most of his movies, and I definitely got way too excited when he finally made an Instagram! So when he announced he would be releasing a memoir titled "Greenlights," I knew I absolutely had to get my hands on this book. And so did the rest of the world, as the book began to flood social media.

Truthfully, I would much rather read a fiction book and dive into another world than read a nonfiction book - even if it is one of my favorite celebrities. But I had a feeling this book wouldn't disappoint or bore.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

The Armie Hammer Scandal Discourse Is Kink Shaming And Harming Actual Victims

The rumors surrounding Armie Hammer has resulted in some very toxic and harmful discourse.

16705

Sex is something that occupies a very significant place in our lives. Even asexual people can have an active sex life. With the various types of people that comprise this world, it obviously results in various sexual interests. And unconventional people can engage in some pretty unconventional sex practices. Even the most conventional people on the surface might surprise us with their sexual fantasies.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments