Today is Philippine-Independence Day.
The truth is that I am an American first, and a Filipino second. I was born in America. With the exception of a three year stint living in Southeast Asia in my teens, I was raised here most of my life. While I can understand Tagalog, I can only speak in English. I grew up in New Jersey and now live in the most American part of the USA: Texas. I love going to church, shooting guns, pick-up trucks, Harley Davidson Motorcycles, Bruce Springsteen, rock music, country music, and eating obnoxious amounts of BBQ, bacon, and other “American” foods. I have been described as an “All-American” type of guy, and the small-minded Filipino-American guys I grew up with have gone so far as to call me a “wannabe white boy” (more on that later…that’s a topic for a whole other blog).
However, while I am a born-American, my blood is and always will be Filipino. No passport or birth certificate can change that. As a Filipino, I believe in the importance of Tribe: my family, my teachers, my students, and my friends. I am deeply in love with the Filipino martial arts, and I see it as a way to change the world. I believe in hospitality, and my parents raised me to understand that one’s home is a gift from God, and that it is your duty to open it up to member’s of your Tribe when they need a place to stay. I love eating Lechon, Bibinka, Halo Halo, Dinaguan, my mother’s Adobo and Siomai, and my mom-in-law’s Kare-Kare and longanisa.
As a man who is both American and Filipino, I honor today not just because of my heritage, but because of what it stands for. While Filipino and American culture may differ in certain ways, the two cultures do have some things in common. For instance, both cultures were born from revolution, and they both cherish independence and freedom. I am well-aware that both the Filipino Community and American Society has their own share of faults. However, there is a bigger picture, and that big picture is that I am Blessed and fortunate to live in a country that grants me opportunity to be the best version of myself, and I am also Blessed to be of a race that helps reinforce my understanding that I am not just to work hard for myself, but for part of a bigger Tribe.
Happy Philippine Independence Day!
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