It seems to me the best surprises here on my blog happen in the later part of my afternoon. Yesterday, one of the first few people who strayed into my space and who took the effort to leave a comment stopped by after a long absence. Thanks for stopping by, Darryl.
Darryl was born in Manila but raised and educated here in the United States. He came home to Manila recently after a previous visit 15 years ago, and he credits my own homecoming as an influence in his decision to make that trip, and he took his 10-year-old daughter with him, too. I am honored. Every trip to Manila is an emotional journey for me, more so because everything that makes up my life before Alan and Angel is there. In most respects, I still consider Manila my home.
And Darryl is right in saying how wonderful it feels to be with your own people. For all the negative things happening in the country and the criticisms hurled against us as a people, there is a different kind of warmth and sense of home that blurs the lines and makes you feel like one with the rest of the Filipinos when you are actually on your home turf.
It is always nice to know that the people who stray into the blog do so because of their Pinoy roots. I made a conscious effort to identify myself as Filipino from the very start, even naming my other blogs distinctly ”Pinoy” because I want to be identified as one.
Being Pinoy is not a matter of birthright, it’s a matter of identity of one’s choosing. I know of Americans who consider themselves Pinoy even if they are clearly Caucasian. I know of others who, like Darryl, no longer have personal histories with their country of origin, but who still identify themselves as Pinoy. There are even those who were raised and born here who can speak the language as if they moved here just 10 years ago. I see teeners riding the bus, speaking with a twang, answering in English to their Mom’s Tagalog, wearing Filipino identity symbols like a bead flag around their neck, or a sticker or patch on their knapsack. They proudly proclaim their heritage even if you know that they are growing up as Americans.
While the color of your skin or your facial features may betray your being Filipino, I still say being a Filipino is a matter of choice for those of us here in the US. There are those who have clearly shied away. But that’s their choice. This is mine.