OPINION: What is a Filipino?

Story & Courtesy Photo by Xavier Mendoza 

Bruno Mars, Dave Bautista, Vanessa Hudgens, Jordan Clarkson, The Asia Project, Manny Pacquiao. Famous artists, performers and athletes that you may or may not have known were Filipino. Then you wonder, what is a Filipino?

Filipinos are those who have lineage that originate in the Southeast Asian country of the Philippines, a “developing” country home to beautiful beaches like Boracay and also an “extreme” President, Rodrigo Duterte.

I can go on an endless speech of what we have back home and all the cool things that people should do if they ever chose to visit the country. But that doesn’t say anything about us, as people, or even what our culture is.

The first thing I can say is that we are proud to be Filipino, and by that, we mean that we will try to represent our culture, our traditions, and our family’s way of life, every chance we can, and will be happy to do so. Every time you hang out with our family, you will be part of our family. We welcome everyone with open arms (but that doesn’t mean you can try anything sketchy). We are protective of our family, and although that’s something everyone can say, we are protective of all our family. That means we will protect you.

When it comes to family, people may say we are unbelievable, or sometimes, uncomfortably too close. Yes, our Lolo and Lola (grandfather and grandmother) live with us at home.  Yes, you will be fed even if you say, “No thank you, I’m full!” Yes, we still let our parents kiss us on the cheek, even if we’re 20 and older. We even show respect for our elders by saying, “mano po,” and patting the back of their hand to your forehead.

If you hang out with us, you’ll start to be part of it all too! You’ll hear the little ones start to call you Kuya/Ate (Older Brother/Sister) even if you’re not Filipino. You’ll start to address the aunts and uncles of the family Tita/Tito. There will even be a point when they yell at you like their own kids (sorry about that!).

No, we can’t just leave the house because we’re 18. No, we can’t just go to another state without telling our parents even if we live in our apartment and are countless hours away from our parents. But that’s just how we are and we’re happy to share that.

Now, can you argue that our parents are a little strict? Maybe. I mean, I was only grounded from leaving the house until I memorized my multiplication table to 10. Granted, I was in the 2nd grade, but I still use it to this day. There was even a point in time where I wasn’t allowed to speak English in the house due to the fear that I would forget how to speak Tagalog.

But, if I look back at it, I’m thankful for every decision my parents have ever made while disciplining me as I grow up. Being more in touch with my culture (language, traditional dances, family mindset) helped me be as I am now. It has even helped me add-on to my family.

I’ve connected with fellow students from other universities and states just from being Filipino and we all love to talk about our experiences and laugh about it.

Although this short article may not cover what everything a Filipino is, just know that:

Kahit na hindi na tayo magkaibigan, hindi na kita nakikita, pamilya ka pa rin sa amin. Kahit na hindi mo maintindihan bakit ganito kami, ok lang yun. Kahit na sa inyo, medyo weird kami, just know, pinoy kami, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

[Even if you we’re not friends anymore, we don’t see each other anymore, we’re still family. Even if you don’t understand why we’re like this, that’s ok. Even if to you, we’re kind of weird, just know, we’re Filipino, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.]

Happy Filipino American Heritage Month!