Friday, June 10, 2016

Words for Philippines Independence Day on June 12th

by Missy Enaje

I have been reading a book entitled "The Latinos of Asia" about how Filipino Americans break the rules of race. In trying to understand a concept that is sometimes blinding, sometimes quite blurry, I flipped through the pages and finally someone explained as clear as day how our 'history' painted the pages of our 'today.'

I learned that an old Filipino saying tried to summarize our history when it stated that "the Filipinos have spent 300 years in the convent and 50 years in Hollywood." Being colonized by the Spanish Empire, I now understand how our words are shared with theirs - from last names of Hidalgo to Fernandez, or the names of our food, from empanada to chicken adobo.

I see why our people know English so much more than our Asian counterparts due to the American colonization. You know I always wondered why my Lola (grandmother) didn't drill in me our native tongue, Tagalog, enough that I could say I'm trilingual today. Lola made sure my English was grammatically correct and proper, that I crossed my 'T's and dotted my 'I's (thanks Lola, I love writing because of you and because memories of Lolo speaking in the Philippines as a public speaker).

In all its complexity, truly understanding what it means to be Filipino and what it means to be an American is a story many of us live out everyday in our own type of way.

For me, right now it means that thanks to my father's patience, I am starting off at the very bottom so that maybe I can reach a certain peak that would make my ancestors proud. Yep, I'm learning the alphabet and boy oh boy is it challenging (I'm stuck on the letter N - 'na' versus 'nga' and 'ng').

I admit that we sometimes take for granted what growing up in America means. Land of opportunity at the cost of millions of immigrants and their hope for a better life. Ask me do I love being an American? Yes. Then ask me do I love being a Filipina? The answer is also a resounding yes.

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