My Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams: Celebrating My Filipino American Culture

With today being November 1, Filipinx American History Month is officially over. However, I celebrate the diverse experiences of my people everyday. I am learning more about my identity everyday. I embrace my culture everyday.

October was just a little extra special.

For those of you who do not know: I am a Filipina American born from first generation immigrant parents.

My mother made the first move. With her siblings, she left her hometown of Tarlac to begin a new life in a completely foreign country. With suitcases, papers, and their little knowledge of the English language, she headed to the big city of San Francisco, CA. My father followed shortly after.

I will always remember and honor my parents’ decision. Because of their sacrifices, I am where I am now. Their decision is still transparent in my life every. single. day.

Now that I’m older and work, I always find myself thinking about the hardships my parents faced coming here. I think about how hard they hustled in order to provide and create the life I have now. Leaving all that they have in a country that they’ve always known for a country where they had to start from the bottom. I remember nights where my father wouldn’t come home because he had two jobs to work. I remember every Christmas my mother would fill up a giant balikbayan box to send over to family in the Philippines. They live a life of sacrifice to give me a life of exploration.

Being Filipina American is something I am discovering more and more about each day. My identity is shaped around both cultures. Going to school, I’d learn about the American mindset of working hard and beating the odds. Outside of the house, I’d learn about the beauty of diversity and realize that our country is built by immigrants. On the other hand, my parents prioritized instilling Pilipino beliefs in me and exposing me to traditions growing up. There was never a day that I didn’t hear Ilokano in our familial conversations and The Filipino Channel blasting from our living room television.

My love for food stems from the Filipino dishes my Lola prepared everyday for us. I always appreciated coming home to a home-cooked meal, with my family gathered around the dining room table.

Lola would always take out the tinik from my tilapia. Mommy would make sure to give me enough gulay whenever we ate Pinakbet. Sitaw was my favorite. This was a way they showed their love to me. Food is such a big part of culture, with filipino food always connecting me back home. The love put into every dish is phenomenal. Now that I am an adult, I hope to learn how to create the dishes my Lola used to make and pass on that love to my future family. The flavors are nostalgic. The dishes give me infinite memories. The food will always bring me back.

Outside of the food, what I’ve always enjoyed about my culture is the sense of community. I’ve always felt community growing up. From attending yearly culture and arts festivals to joining my university’s Pilipinx organization, I’ve always felt at home. We come together to celebrate us. In a country that implements systems that are against us, we come together to represent and rise above.

Although Filipinx American History Month is over, everyday is a celebration of the challenges we’ve overcome, the visionaries that paved paths for the next generation, and the bright future ahead of us.

I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams. It is my goal to making them proud.

Sincerely,

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