By Athena Abadilla, FINDink Contributor
And to those soon-to-be Filipino American parents:
You have such power.
To teach your children to not only love their brown skin so boldly that it becomes a process of decolonization, but also to allow them to appreciate the rich history and vibrant culture that runs through their blood.
Some suggested steps.
Speak to them. Tell them stories about life in the Philippines and the people who’ve come before them. Yes, even let them listen to all the ghost stories and superstitions you’ve heard and thought were borderline-crazy. Tell them about the first Filipinos to set foot in America long before the first “pilgrims” did. 1587 Morro Bay, California. Teach them their histories that don’t get included in their classroom curricula. Bring these conversations to the dinner table (suggestion: over healthy servings of homemade chicken adobo and rice or whatever Filipino dish you can find the recipe for). And whenever possible, let them hear you speak in your native tongue. Even if it just comes in little day-to-day phrases. Bilingualism is not a handicap to learning. Let them get a taste of a different world-view.
And when your humble lifestyle allows you to save up enough money from all the hard work you do, don’t blow it all on an over-the-top family vacation. Europe and Disney World can wait. Bring your kids back to their roots. Back to the Philippines. Don’t call Ubers; let them experience the jeepney or catch a ride on those tricycle sidecars. Expose them to authentic Filipino food. Allow them to buy merienda (snacks) from street vendors and gaze at the beautiful art or handmade crafts that fill the many pop-up tents at places like Quiapo marketplace. Connect them to family or friends who still reside in your old barangay (village district). Show them the fields where both rice and community was cultivated. Bring them to Magellan’s Cross and the beautiful surrounding churches; but only if you don’t neglect to tell them why they’re there and where they come from. (That’s right, I’m talking about Spanish colonialism). While you’re at it, bonus: show them Lapu Lapu and tell his heroic story. Let them experience what true happiness feels like in the context that is not conflated with American exceptionalism.
Love your Filipino culture, as you love them, limitlessly.
A proud daughter of Ilocos Norte immigrants who are privileged to still have maintained that connection with the Philippines while raising my sister and me as Filipino-Americans.
Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.