I wasn’t initially going to make this week’s budding bonus about this, but the topic I originally chose was actually an awareness month for another country. OOPS! So I decided to stay closer to home. And closer to my roots.
When I was a little girl, I used to fantasize about having blonde hair and blue eyes. I thought to myself, one day I’m just going to dye my hair blonde and get blue contacts. I thought it would make me beautiful. Can you imagine?!
Today, I am proud of my heritage. My mother is from the Philippines and my father is from the state of Georgia. It’s what makes me who I am and I am (almost) perfectly happy with the way I look!
This post focuses more on my Filipino side because it is Filipino American History Month or Filipino American Heritage Month.
I was born in the Philippines, but unfortunately don’t remember much of it because I was so little when we moved to the States. Luckily, my family became close knit with other Filipino community members. We were active members of the Filipino American Association. My parents still are. It helped me remain in touch with Filipino traditions and my culture.
Growing up, I learned traditional dances, took Tagalog classes (I spoke Tagalog as a child, but lost it pretty quickly when moving to the U.S. And, unfortunately, the Tagalog classes weren’t enough to bring the dialect back.) and ate a lot of traditional Filipino food-some delicious (lumpia, pancit, champorado) and some downright scary (dinugan and balut).
Now that I’m an adult and out of my parents’ home, my involvement with other Filipinos is a lot more limited. I did, recently meet a Filipino woman at a friend’s birthday party. I could tell instantly she was Filipino because of her accent. So, I introduced myself and asked if she was involved in a Fil-Am in the area. Turns out she is! But her community is about 40 minutes from my own. She invited me to a future event, but meeting her did give me the drive to get more involved on my own.
I’m an adult now. I can’t just wait for my parents to tell me when the next Fil-Am event is. I am making an effort to reach out in my own community and try to get involved. For myself, and for my children. So, I hit up Google and found information on my local Fil-Am and plan on joining soon! What better time to get more in tune with my culture, than during Filipino American History Month!
In writing this, I decided to do a little more digging in the history of Filipinos in this country. Here are some tidbits I found interesting.
-The first Filipinos arrived in North America in 1587, decades before the Pilgrims. Before our Founding Fathers declared independence from the Brits, a group of Filipinos had already settled in Louisiana. More than a century before Alaska became a state, Filipinos had already made it here, engaging in fur trade with Alaska Natives.
-In the early 1920s, many Filipinos left their families to work in the plantations of Hawaii and California and the fisheries of Washington and Alaska.
-During WWII, Filipinos fought with and for the U.S. to help protect our freedom and secure peace in our world.
-In the late ’60s and ’70s, many Filipino professionals moved to the U.S. to join our rapidly growing technology and health industry.
Some famous Filipinos:
-Rear Admiral Connie Mariano served as President Clinton’s physician.
-Chef Cristeta Comerford has been the White House Executive Chef since President George W. Bush.
-Fe del Mundo was the first woman admitted as a student of the Harvard Medical School and founded the first pediatric hospital in the Philippines.
–Monique Lhuillier is a world famous fashion and bridal designer.
–Cheryl Burke is a professional dancer on “Dancing With the Stars.”
–Apl.de.ap is a rapper with the pop group Black Eyed Peas. He even has dual citizenship.
–Lou Diamond Phillips is an actor who starred in one of my favorite movies of all time, “La Bamba.”
-Roman Gabriel is the Los Angeles Rams’ MVP and Pro Bowl quarterback.
-Erik Spoelstra is the NBA coach of the Miami Heat.
I have a lot to be proud of! If you know any Filipino Americans, reach out and tell them “salamat” for all that they do for the U.S!