My name is Arbine and I am Filipina-American.
99.9% of the time I have no problem identifying as such. But there are times when I question myself. Am I Filipino enough to call myself Filipino?
My grandparents came to Hawaii from the Philippines for work. My grandfathers worked on the sugar plantations in Ewa. After she had kids, my maternal grandmother worked at the Dole Cannery in Wahiawa. Both of my parents were born and raised in Hawaii. I was born in Hawaii and moved around a bit because my dad was in the military.
I never learned how to speak Ilocano, Tagalog, or Visayan. Sure, I know how to say thank you and I understand when my grandma is telling me to eat, but beyond that, I am Jon Snow. The look of disappointment other people have when they start to talk Filipino to me and I have to say that I don’t speak it is pretty crushing. When I’m around people who talk about “the real way” to make Filipino foods, I never know what to say.
I realize that all of this should mean nothing to me, and for the most part it doesn’t. But there are moments when it makes me feel really bad. That, aside from eating pork adobo, lumpia, and halo halo, maybe I haven’t put enough effort into learning more about Filipino culture.
I’m working on not letting that doubting 0.1% bring me down.
My name is Arbine and I’m Filipina-American.
Photo by my parents