For those of you that don’t know, I am a quarter Filipino. From the time I was a child, it has always been one of my favorite things to tell people. I have always loved being mixed-race, even though a lot of people find it hard to believe that I am anything but white. (See my post Being Mixed But White-Presenting for more on that).
While I might not LOOK Asian, I am an entire quarter Asian. It’s not some minuscule percentage or far away in my bloodline. My mom is half Filipino, and her father (my grandfather) is 100% Filipino. He born and raised there. This has always been something that has been so cool to me because I’ve heard so much about my family in the Philippines and their heritage growing up. I was so interested in it, that I even did a life history on my grandfather in high school for my Human Development class.
I grew up with a lot of Filipino influence. I grew up eating Filipino Chicken Adobo and to this day, it is still one of my favorite meals. My grandfather has always loved to cook, and he brought pancit (a traditional Filipino noodle dish) to EVERY family gathering we have ever had. I love lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) and it’s something I’ve made with my family before.
In addition to growing up with Filipino food, my mom has always tried to immerse us into the culture in various ways. For those of you that don’t know, many people in the Philippines speak Spanish because the Spanish colonized there. For this reason, my mom was tried to teach me Spanish when I was a little kid. She taught me how to count in Spanish and she also taught me how to say “hello my friends” and “goodbye my friends.”
She’s also taught me other words. One day when I was calling cows “moo moos” she got all confused and said “ghosts?” because Filipinos call ghosts “mumus.” Mumu is short for ‘multo’ which means ghost or apparition of the dead and it was derived from the Spanish word muerto which means “dead.” It’s also because of her that I call McDonald’s “McDo” (pronounced “mac-doh”) because she told me that is what the Filipinos refer to it as back in the Philippines.
In addition to learning some Spanish and cultural things like that, I’ve also had lots of Filipino things over the years from a Filipino Barbie doll to traditional clothing and shoes from the Philippines. I loved having all of these little pieces of my heritage as I was growing up. I still have all of these things to this day and they’re things I still cherish.
At the end of the day, I love being Filipino. I’m proud of it, and it’s a huge part of my identity. While people might look at me and just view me solely as a white person, they cannot take my Filipino heritage away from me – it’s in my blood.
Other people might not see it when they look at me, but when I look at myself, I see all of the subtle ways my Asian genetics influenced my physical appearance. I have my grandfather’s very Asian eyebrows that are shaped like straight up triangle mountains (although, nobody would know because I pluck the bottom, but the beautiful arch is still there). I have a darker complexion, darker hair, and brown eyes. Others might not associate these things with me being mixed race, but I do.
I can’t imagine not having the Filipino part of me not being in the mix. I might not be 100% Filipino, but as I said, it is still a huge part of my personal identity. I am proud to be a Filipina.