Being Pilipino/Filipino/Fil-Am Ain't Always Easy...Theresa's Intro

I guess since is my first entry in this blog, I should introduce myself. This could take forever, so I'll keep this short for now. =P

My PTSP stats include:
-Co-Founder AKA Mom of PTSP Bayanihan with JP
-PTSP Bayanihan's first official Director (and all the titles before Director)
-One of two of the first Alumni Advisors to PTSP (at least as far as I know)
-Co-author of the PTSP Bayanihan handbook (which I've still never seen the final version of, but -I bet probably needs some major revising), again with JP

All this is not to mention my many hats in Pilipino organizations and clubs and whatnot during my 2.5 years at UCLA, being that I am a transfer student. I graduated in 2005 to find myself pretty much unemployed, in debt, back at home, bored with life, car-less, newly-single--so pretty much in a terrible, terrible rut. Maybe this wasn't the best idea, but I thought med school (and more financial aid) would solve all these problems in one fantastic hit. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen...and I'm in my 3rd year, currently residing in Guadalajara, Mexico, to boot.

So I'm supposed to be studying, but I'll leave you with this story and question, and feel free to comment on this.

This weekend, I went to 2 super bowl parties. The first one, during the first half of the game, had tons of traditional football party food, drinks, yelling, and I was the only non-Mexican girl to boot, not to mention that there were only 5 girls there total. It was nice to be the only girl there that understood Futbol Americano as well. Anyway, that was one party. I went to another in the second half that was quite the opposite. It was quieter, less drinking, fast food, people studying in the other rooms, and I was literally the only person jumping around during plays and screaming at the TV. Perhaps one would think it was the 2 beers and tequila shot at the other party getting to me...but no. If you know me at all, you'll know that I'm like that during sports events as long as I feel I'm with people I'm comfortable with. After the game ended, we were just sitting around, sipping on beer and talking as people started to leave. About 2 more beers in, I couldn't drive anywhere just yet and stuck around.

Conversation went around...we were all joking around and such, when, to make a long story short, one of my friends started talking about race. I threw in my usual quip about myself: in Mexico, before I can say a word of my awful Spanish which completely lacks an accent, most people look at me and I am almost certain they think one of the following:
-She's Mexican.
-She's Asian...I think.
-I have no idea where this girl is from.
I swear most people think the third of the above the most often, as people constantly ask me where I'm from, especially after I talk. Usually I say California, but sometimes people ask for a more...in-depth answer. And some of those people have no idea where the Philippines is anyway, so I've just learned to let this go. This all is no longer weird to me, and that's where the story turns ugly.

You tell me--how would you respond to this statement:
Pilipinos are the Mexicans of Asian. Your last names are all Spanish like the Mexicans.

Perhaps fueled by the alcohol, I was pissed. My friend tried to play it off like we were all making fun of each other, that I was being too emotional in response to this, and that is was just 'cause I was drinking (by the way, I wasn't drunk either). He and my other friend walked off for a bit, and I stayed lying on the couch, trying not to explode. I left shortly after that, for more reasons than stayed here, but we haven't really talked since then (I'm hoping to soon) and I'm still kinda pissed.
Never mind we're on a different continent.
Never mind we have roots and history that go well past the time when Spain colonized us.
Never mind we've been colonized by countries other than Spain that have altered our nation's history and culture.
Never mind we don't speak Spanish in the Philippines as a primary language, definitely not as our national language.
Never mind I've personally struggled with my Pilipino-American identity before UCLA and afterwards still.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not insulted by the idea that we're like Mexicans. I have learned that we do have things in common with them for sure, and things that are different. I have nothing against Mexicans.
It's just that...his statement is moot, and makes light of all the ways that the Pilipino culture is one of its own. It hit me right in the gut. I'm still pissed just thinking about it.

I just wanted to know how you all feel about that, especially seeing as how I'm so detached from the world of Cali, where we Pilipinos/Filipinos/Fil-Ams are pretty much everywhere.

That's all for now.

1 comment:

Brian J. Delas Armas said...

Man, bloggers commenting system sucks, but that has nothing to do with my post.

My counter to their point would be that Mexicans are the Filipinos of Central America. I fire that back. Seems like they were dealing in pure metaphor and perhaps they were just trying to relate better? But I think I saw where you were coming from.