Ligaw Ligaw Season?

By Noel Alberto, FINDink Contributor

Growing up (and even now), my mom always asked me if I’m making “ligaw ligaw”. Growing up, I had no idea what that meant but later on, my told me, oh it means “to court a girl”. Winter is almost over, which means cuffing season is about to come to a close (November to March), but there’s never a season to #ShootYourShot2018 so ligaw ligaw (courting) season is all-year round.
There’s a lot into courtship in the Filipino culture. It can start with asking the girl for her phone number or address or with teasing. Why teasing you ask? There is teasing because the “official” courtship has not begun yet and also, it helps the male suitor who really does not know how to court a girl. After the “teasing stage”, the courtship becomes more serious if the female reciprocates with the teasing or “encourages” the suitor to continue.
In the “serious” stage, more dates involving the two, whether it be chaperoned dates or group dates. While courting, the suitor begins to bring  pasalubong  to the lady such as flowers, cards, letters, etc. This serious stage includes meeting the parents. While being courted, the woman must play  hard to get , showing no interest or flirting, and being well-mannered, which is the appropriate behavior despite having interests for the suitor. Sometimes the suitor, who would be accompanied by friends, would head over to the women’s house and serenade her in a way of asking her to be his girlfriend.
The woman can choose one of many suitors, and once they begin the “dating phase”, no public displays of affection are usually shown. After the dating phase, the marriage phase begins where the man and his parents go upstairs of the woman’s house and ask for permission from the parents for the lady’s hand.
Some of this may sound old school and traditional, but some of this is a welcome change of pace in today’s  hook-up culture.  Hook-up culture is generally associated with people who are in high school or in college. In the social media age, courting someone will not go unnoticed. This is where the finsta comes in.
A finsta is a fake instagram which someone has to share their unfiltered experiences of life, which is private and only followed by your closest friends. It’s that place for those ugly selfies, those rants about life, and in this case, where you can talk about the girl you’re courting or the boy you’re crushing on.
In this day in age, it’ll be nice to see some more  ligaw ligaw , of course this is coming from someone who is a traditionalist themself, but hey to each their own. :)

Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.


Where is home?

By Czaerra Ucol, FINDink Contributor

Adapted from a finsta post after I arrived back in the U.S. after a vacation in the Philippines. I went this past winter break, but before that, the last time I went was in 2006 for my 8th birthday.


where is home?

is home Chicago? i often tell people at school that the taste of deep dish pizza is very personal to me. whether you consider it real pizza or not, it has deep connotations with my childhood for me. this windy city - where barely any of my friends live anymore - now feels empty. those that i would take the bus home with after school are now thousands of miles away. my bedroom that i painstakingly painted my favorite shade of bright yellow when i was a child, with my father, is now merely a guest room. my childhood home was often the first stop for some family members that first immigrated to the US, but now at night i no longer hear loud conversations in Ilocano from the dining room. i walk the streets of my neighborhood late at night and no longer have anywhere to visit, no one’s house to stop by. certain sidewalk cracks remind me of a former partner, or perhaps a quintessential part of my adolescence. but that is all they are to me - memories of a past life. i am an adult ghost in my childhood fantasies.

is home the Philippines? they say distance makes the heart grow fonder, but after 12 years, its hard for these faces to not be reduced to merely a yearly notification of a “happy birthday” facebook message. it’s hard being close when you have an entire ocean between you. i remember my grandparents’ home in Bacarra - my brother, my 7 cousins, and i would all sleep together in one room, staying up all night and exchanging stories about America and the Philippines. the night before my 8th birthday was so exciting. now we are all older, our family has grown - 3 more cousins have been born since then - but we are all just as similar as before. i’ve never had a family reunion before, and yet this past winter, i visited a town where literally everyone had the same middle name as me. this inexplicable connection drew us together, and it was almost like i had never left. my mom often speaks about how we all inherited our great-grandfather’s wisdom, and i see that now. we visited his grave. i hope we are making him proud.

a week after i left the Philippines this past January, my grandparents’ home in Bacarra - empty and abandoned - was bulldozed. we visited it before we left - it had been looted. there were scattered photographs of my mother’s childhood tossed carelessly on the floor. we scavenged everything we could. i wonder what remains in the rubble now - or what it will look like the next time i see it. hopefully, it will not be another 12 years.

is home New York City? my biggest fear of moving to this city and going to such an esteemed school did not seem very scary to me when i was an ambitious 18-year-old - i was ready to take on a new challenge. but now, i am 19 (soon to be 20, about a week from writing this). college humbles everyone - at least, i hope it does. i often speak about how as someone raised in a large city, i am used to my life now. and while i am used to taking the subway or uncomfortably ignoring people selling me their mixtape, i was unprepared for the loneliness of the concrete jungle. however, i have forged a new family - one comprised of my friends, my partner, my filipino club members, my roommate - everyone that i’ve met along the way and has stayed has been nothing but supportive of me.

while i am grateful, i can’t help but continue looking for home. my dorm has housed many, many people before me. but this is not the place my mother offered to make me arroz caldo when i was sick, nor is it the place where i encountered an old notebook filled with old love poems written by my grandmother when she still had her eyesight.

i have almost been on this planet, existing, feeling, living for what i hope to be 1/5th of my life. perhaps the search will become easier along the way. maybe one day, i’ll be the diasporic individual able to reconcile the birthplace of my parents with the city i was nurtured and cared for in and the city where i’ve come into my own.

but for now, i will share these slightly ramble-y thoughts with you all.


here's a short, cute little video documenting my trip to the philippines


Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.

Introversion In An Extroverted Culture

By Katlin Esguerra, FINDink Contributor

Throughout my life I’ve always felt like an oddball at family parties or gatherings. It seemed as if relatives would always try to have a conversation pertaining to a career or my daily life, try to push me into singing karaoke, or even just forcing me to be under a spotlight that I was never comfortable under. They usually mean well, but I was always more comfortable standing afar and just scoping out the activities going on throughout the evening from a safe distance. It’s not that I hate these types of gatherings, but my energy levels never matched with anyone else in the room.

We come from a culture in which a lot people are friendly and hospitable towards each other, a culture in which those traits coincide with forms of energy that thrives on a daily basis from social interaction. We also come from a culture that thrives on the emphasis of respecting your family and showing kindness to others, which portrays a balance between high levels of socialization, and speaking when being spoken to. From what I’ve encountered, we like to create connections with others without seeming too outspoken or radical, especially towards someone of a higher title than yours, or older relatives. From what I’ve learned on my own, there’s an extent to the sociability that’s portrayed in the Philippines, and it may be tied toward the values of family and overall respect. Socializing in the community is highly encouraged in Filipino culture, but there’s also the need to be mindful of what a person may say or do.

This is the attitude I’ve grown with, which ties in with an introversion I’ve inherited. I’ve learned to keep quiet or else I might offend someone with my outspokenness or an individualistic mindset that most aunties and uncles may disapprove of. I’ve grown so comfortable with this subtle attitude that it’s manifested into introverted traits. I always remind myself there will be a time when I step away from my isolated bubble and become more outspoken in front of relatives, whether they like what I say or not. After all, it is a time to catch up with one another, interact, and learn from each other. Maybe it will help me become more comfortable at family parties, and maybe it will help me become closer with my family. Although I’m still somewhat in my comfort zone at these social events, I’ve learned to push myself out of it the best way that I could, and at my own pace.

I may find myself drained after interacting with relatives on topics or activities I find unbearable, but I’m used to how these parties and gatherings function, and it actually becomes easier to enjoy throughout the time that the function occurs. I find more enjoyment through observation. It’s interesting watching your cousin snatch an amazing score of 95 on the Magic Sing mic, hearing the laughter of parents in the kitchen making the corniest of jokes, and immersing yourself in the overall jubilant atmosphere that goes on for hours. As stated earlier, I’ve grown in a culture emphasized on family, and those are the parts of Filipino culture that I value the most, which can be found at events like these.

If there are Filipino people out there whom I share similar traits and situations with, may we unite in our own individual love affairs with solitude, may we uphold our cultural values in ways that each of us choose to do so, and may we continue easing our way through the overbearing parts of the overall joyful family gatherings that never cease to exist.  


Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.


I'm Filipino, But...


By Claudia Uy, FINDink Contributor

I’m Filipino, but I don’t eat dogs.

Dogs are my favorite animal, and I wanted one since I was a kid.

I’m Filipino, but I’m not late to everything.

Ok, I’m actually working on this one.

I’m Filipino, but I’m not lazy.

Most of the Filipinos I know, including myself, work very hard for their goals. Filipinos are the hardest working people I know.

I’m Filipino, but I’m not pursuing STEM.

I’m actually a graphic design major, but I do find STEM subjects fascinating.

I’m Filipino, but my ethnicity should not determine my career.

You should be able to pursue your own passion because at the end of the day, you are in charge of your own happiness. Pursue whatever makes you happy.

I’m Filipino, but I’m not submissive.

I am an independent woman who is capable of making her own decisions.

I’m Filipino, but the color of my skin does not determine my level of physical attractiveness.

Dark skin or not, your skin is beautiful and makes you unique.

I’m Filipino and proud to be one.

And you can be too.

Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.

Righteous Distractions

By Miguel Locsin, FINDink Contributor

Every day I am constantly surrounded by smart, motivated young people with an itching to make his or her unique dent in the world. I have friends who want to become doctors, activists, champions on progressive rights, respectable and ethical accountants, lawyers, teachers, scientists. All these are amazing things, and all these make sense given that universities are institutions where young people are encouraged to think about the future, and innovate from there. It is my hope that this is the experience of college students all around the world. It is certainly a privilege to go through something that is similar to my experience here at the College of William and Mary.

At my Filipino club here at the College, I believe that our members are more than representative of the population as a whole. We are the most diverse cultural organization on campus, including many members who have little to no biological connection to Filipinos, yet enjoy and celebrate the camaraderie and happiness that is exemplified in all the good sides of traditional Filipino culture. This is something I am immensely proud of.

Given all these good things that I have said above, I do not know of anybody who has told me that politics is in their future. I was immensely excited when Kelly Fowler, a Filipino-American, won a seat on the Virginia House of Delegates. Even then, Filipino-American representation in the United States is scant, considering that Filipino Americans make up approximately 1.1% of the US population. This goes for more than just Filipino Americans at my school. There are many people who want to pursue a career related to politics, but consider how often you hear about somebody who actually wants to run for office when he or she grows up.

This is understandable. I, for one, consider the life of a politician to be a miserable one. A good politician will work all day under the pretense of good ambitions, may be perceived to get very little done, and will still be invariably hated by some fraction of the constituency, especially in this political climate. Running for office is a tiring affair as well, and the chances of winning may be very small. I must confess that although I am a premedical student who has given some thought in running for office in the future, I doubt that a life in politics will ever happen for me.

But why is that the case? Why aren’t people like me motivated to run for a governmental position? While I ask these questions of myself, the GOP is attempting to pass the largest tax reform of its time based upon the trickle down economic theory that has been empirically proven not to work. The state of the nation’s healthcare policy hangs in the balance, and the opioid epidemic is as strong as ever in all of the 50 states and territories.

Nobody is in a better position to fix these problems with good, meaningful policy changes than somebody who is seated in office.  Activists always say to call up your representative in office to get something done, yet the message to actually run for office is almost inexistent, in my experience. More competition in elections means a more robust, efficient democracy. Investigating the reasoning behind this lack of political ambition is imperative in the progression of democracies around the world. Why is it so expensive to run for office in America? Why do the richest win? Why is minority representation so abysmal? How is gerrymandering even a thing? How the heck did someone so unqualified win the presidency of the federal government? May we ask these questions rhetorically to ourselves and our friends and family, and then ask ourselves if what we want to do in our lives will make the biggest, most meaningful dent in society. Let us ask how good of a version of ourselves can we create. We are the young future of this nation. Let’s make it the best version of America it can be.


Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.

The Melting Pot Experience and an Attitude of Gratitude

By Katlin Esguerra, FINDink Contributor

It’s the season of thanks, and the season of coming together in unity. In order to come across these benevolent experiences, one must also be reminded of their familial roots, and the journeys that ancestors had gone through.

 Walking through Chelsea in New York City, New York. The history behind this city has been built-up by immigrants, thus the conception of the American, “melting pot.”

Walking through Chelsea in New York City, New York. The history behind this city has been built-up by immigrants, thus the conception of the American, “melting pot.”

Questioning the Meaning of the American Melting Pot

It is no doubt that the United States is a nation composed of people immigrating from other countries, or are descendants of immigrants. Because of the influx of people coming from different parts of the world, the term known as, “the melting pot,” has been conceptualized after the appearance of people of distinct racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds in the U.S. during the 19th and early 20th century.

The term has been tossed around for decades, but what does this concept of, “the melting pot” in the United States actually mean, anyway? The metaphorical meaning of the phrase varies from person to person. From what’s been previously learned, the basic history behind the term flowed along the lines of immigrants assimilating into an ideal “American culture.” Although many view the term as a celebration of embracing various traditions and backgrounds, the melting pot metaphor also presented itself as an identity crisis for many immigrants. There has been a struggle between assimilation into re-molding one’s self to become more American and maintaining transnationalist ties with the homeland. Because the melting pot metaphor possesses historical roots in American immigration, it also has ties to influencing politics and society, as well. The term has ties to U.S. immigration policies, as well as views and attitudes based on the encounters of people who possess different racial or ethnic backgrounds (i.e. stereotyping, ethnocentrism, racism, etc.).

Today, each person must engage in the historical significance behind the meaning of the melting pot metaphor, thus forming one’s own interpretation of what it could really mean on a personal level. Is the United States a blended composition of different backgrounds, or are we a “salad bowl” nation divided by boundaries? What are some ways in which a person can interpret “the melting pot” and apply it to everyday situations? Such questions are those that can be discussed between friends and family members in order to obtain various points of view, and eventually come to a consensus on differences. From there, a person may be able to realize one’s own experience with the metaphorical melting pot.

 The best of both worlds: Lumpia and pancit made by my family, who emigrated from the Philippines in the late 1980’s and early 1990s, and a roasted turkey and green bean casserole, two American classics. This is a part of my American Melting Pot experience, by embracing traditional Filipino cuisine with American influences.

The best of both worlds: Lumpia and pancit made by my family, who emigrated from the Philippines in the late 1980’s and early 1990s, and a roasted turkey and green bean casserole, two American classics. This is a part of my American Melting Pot experience, by embracing traditional Filipino cuisine with American influences.

Finding Gratitude Within the Melting Pot

As previously stated, everyone in the United States is at least a descendant of an immigrant, and everyone’s lives have been influenced by ideas of the American melting pot in various ways. The United States has been constructed by the work of immigrants, and many traditions, linguistic terms, cuisine, and other social or cultural aspects originate from the works of our ancestors. No matter how long a person has lived in the U.S., one must understand their personal background, as well as the backgrounds of others in order to gain a better perspective of what life in America is like for each person.

From a personal perspective, gaining an understanding of other people’s lives in this country helps better understand one’s self. A person gains an understanding of where they come from, and there lies some gratitude from acknowledging your own origins - you become more grateful and aware of your relatives’ journeys. You find solidarity with other people who are of different backgrounds, and have obtained similar journeys as you or your relatives.

We each define the American melting pot in a myriad of ways, but, in respectable and open-minded manners, we must learn to come together to share our own perspectives and differences.


Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.

"Salamat Po"

By Aleisha Flores, FINDink Contributor

As a cultural anthropology minor, the concept of culture and holidays has become a point of serious thought for me. Why do we do the things we do? How do we react to different events or situations? What kind of societal norms do we adapt to? I’ve become extremely aware of how identities shape our actions.

That being said, the celebration of holidays has been an opportunity to understand my Filipino culture or analyze how we observe these holidays. Holidays based in Christianity, such as Christmas or Easter, have always been easy since their religious boundaries transcend borders. But things like Thanksgiving, a distinctly “American” holiday, have always been a little strange. Our family isn’t fully “American” so we have no reason to celebrate it, but our mentality seems to be that everyone else celebrates it, so we should, too.

The way my immediate family and extended family friends celebrates Thanksgiving now started years and years ago, when my mom and my titas were new to the United States. While Thanksgiving has been celebrated in the Philippines because of previous American rule, the tradition has largely been forgotten since Marcos was removed from office in 1986. So when they tried to go out on Thanksgiving and everything was closed except for a Chinese restaurant, they decided that maybe they should celebrate it amongst themselves. They didn’t want to be left out of what true American culture is.

As I’ve gotten older and experienced many a Thanksgiving party, celebrating the holiday still doesn’t seem so relevant to my identity as a Filipina. But to my identity as a Filipina-American, it has taken on a different meaning and context. While we can certainly acknowledge the racist, colonialist roots of Thanksgiving, and the corporate takeover that the holiday has become, there’s just something so nostalgic about it that adds to its cultural relevance here in the states. The fact that young students learn about The First Thanksgiving in school by dressing up as the Pilgrims and Native Americans at Plymouth in a feigned story of peace and good harvest is something you’ll find in few other places around the world. My parents definitely weren’t thinking that would be a part of the great education they’d be giving their children in this new country.

But while those reflections are generally very negative viewpoints, they’ve shaped me. They’ve shaped my family whether or not they realize it. Coming together at Thanksgiving to eat the way Filipinos do, sharing stories and being with each other because we can’t be with our families in the homeland - that means something. The desire to conform and assimilate but still bring traditional Filipino food to the table shows our resilience as immigrants.

And when I greet my titas, titos, ninangs, ninongs, lolas, and lolos at Thanksgiving, when my cousin passes me the plate of chicken adobo followed by turkey and cranberry sauce, the understanding of our heritage comes to the surface. And I’ll remember their experiences and sacrifices in full when I say “Salamat po.”


Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.