Native son: Philippines is in the heart
Growing up, I didn’t know I wasn’t Filipino.
As the child of Christian missionaries in the Philippines, my parents regularly reminded me that I was American and we were from “the states.” They didn’t remind me about the Philippines because they didn’t have to. That’s where I lived and that’s what I knew.
But I also knew I was different. There was a heavy American presence in the Philippines in the early 1970s due to the Vietnam War, and on the streets Filipinos often called me “Joe” (as in G.I. Joe) – as they did to almost every male they thought to be American. Strangers would sometimes pinch my cheeks or touch my arms because my skin was a pale novelty.
But at my school, thankfully, I wasn’t anything special. It was an international school and I learned in English among a hodgepodge of nationalities including Filipino, Dutch, Nigerian, New Zealander, and even American, to name the few I remember. (Curious side note: for me, the most exotic creature in second grade was a girl from Ohio who had curly hair and a strange accent.)
But I never felt more different than when we left the Philippines and arrived in Los Angeles... – Rappler.com
Read the full essay on The Global Filipino, a content partner of Rappler