Heart to Heart (III) : Growing Up Second-Gen Fil-Am

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Though there are many different stories and faces behind Filipino-Americans, today I will tell you about my personal story.

As a second-generation Filipino-American, my journey with my Filipino culture has been largely overshadowed by American/Western culture. I mean, it’s only natural because America is the country I grew up in all my life! While I’m so appreciative of my American culture, I realize now that there is a whole other side of my cultural identity that I have yet to explore, and that’s my inner Pinay. Growing up, I never really learned to speak Tagalog because my parents knew it’d be easier in school if I just learned English first as a child. There were hardly any Filipinos at the schools I had attended anyway. I also never really had much exposure to learning about Filipino culture. Or rather, I was never quite open enough to exposing myself to it. It’s not even that I didn’t want to learn about my culture but just that the notion hadn’t really come to mind at all.

It’s so crazy because now, suddenly, I feel this newfound passion inside me to get reconnected with my Filipino culture. Honestly, my main driving reason is that the more I learn about the history and culture of the Filipino people, the more I truly understand and appreciate everything my parents do for me as well as everything they have overcome and accomplished in their lives as first-generation immigrants.

Where did it start? Well, it’s summer and much of my time is spent watching TV and, sometimes, my mom takes over and watches her Filipino dramas. Now, I’ve always been a fan of Asian dramas like Japanese anime/live-action and Korean Dramas, but I had never really seen Filipino dramas. So, after sitting through a couple sessions of these dramas with my mom, I started to get really hooked. The greatest part of it for me was that I could identify as being a part of the drama’s culture this time. Okay, for real though, I did not realize that Filipino dramas are so addicting! (Although I’ve definitely known all my life that they always seem to incite everyone who watches them to cry). This all only served to further inspire me to learn more about my culture. I’ve even started to really commit myself to learning Tagalog! What makes it so important to me now is that I feel like I can better communicate with my parents, grandparents, cousins, and all my other fellow Filipinos in general. Either way, I have always had a passion for learning about cultures and languages all my life.

 Anyways, long story short tldr, my journey to learn more about my Filipino culture has only just begun, and I believe it’s never too late to start. I already feel so much more deeply appreciative of everything my family has gone through to give me this life today as a Filipino-American. I hope my story helps to inspire you in some way to truly love, understand, and appreciate your roots, as well. 🙂

❤ Kat

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