With the recent passing of my Grandma in the Philippines, it has me really reflecting on my ultimate value in life, which is family. A big part of this is because I was brought up within the filipino cultural which, like many asian cultures, if very family orientated. Here are Top Five reasons why I am a proud Filipina.
1. Cultural identity. Who am I, if I cannot identify with and embrace my own cultural background? Although I was brought up in Australia and I have adopted the instincts and behaviour of my Australian peers, I try to always remember my country of birth and the cultural values my Filipino parents brought me up with. As a child it was a struggle keeping up with children whose Australian parents are easy-going and laid back, while my Filipino parents were strict and authoritative. However, I am always grateful because through discipline they taught me the value of hard work. I would not have become the person I am today if I had not listened to my parents and acknowledged those cultural values.
Photo by @avemariabell: Zamboanga City, where I was born and the city my mother grew up in.
2. We are ordinary people achieving great things. Most Filipino families came from humble beginnings, if not less then humble as the poverty incidence in the Philippines per province ranges from 20% to 50%. This means almost 30% of the population falls below the poverty line. There are those who have been lucky to immigrate to more fortunate countries and they are humble people with big dreams. I came to Australia when I was only 3 years old and so fortunately I did not experience poverty first hand. However, as a first generation immigrant, my parents made sure we remembered our humble beginnings. My mum would often tell me about how some families would use wood to squat over a river bank; and that was often children’s toilet growing up. The thing is, we know what poverty looks like and in the face of adversity, often we find perseverance to succeed.
Photo by @avemariabell: My mothers family having a BBQ.
3. Filipino people are beautiful. Philippines won Miss Universe a total of 19 times, (including twice the title and the rest runner-ups and semi finalisits.) Philippines ranks 8th in the Miss Universe country rankings and is the only South-East Asian country in the top 10 rank. Now before you judge me and say, geez, aren’t you a little vain? Firstly, I am a full Filipina who looks the least like a Filipino in a room full of Filipinos!! So unfortunately I have not inherited the Filipino beauty evident in my family. In fact when I meet people, I am genuinely surprised when someone asks me if I am a Filipina as I am more frequently mistaken for other ethnicities.
(Just a side note, Australia actually comes 9th in the Miss University Country rankings, just one win shy of the Philippines. Which I find bizarre as the two countries I hold dear to my heart sit side by side in a group of almost 100 countries.)
4. Filipino family ties. Asians are known to be generally close-knit so like most Asian cultures, family ties amoung Filipinos are strong. I am so happy and proud to be apart of a big filipino family, some of whom live in Australia, USA and of course, the Philippines. I take comfort in knowing that I would be welcome with open arms if I go visit my family in Brooklyn, my cousins in Cebu and Zamboanga, and of course all my close filipino family in Brisbane. Also I love that if you are married, dating or even just close friends with a Filipino, you practically become filipino too. To be close with a Filipino, it is very hard not to get immersed in the culture, enjoy the food, festivities and become a regular guest, if not apart of the family.
5. Filipino Famous people. Go Manny! Ok c’mon…… Yes I know this is a little patriotic and yes, I never took a huge interest in boxing until Manny came in the scene. However Manny’s success in the boxing world has put the little islands of Philippines on the map. In the sporting world where it is likes of Americans, Chinese and Brazilians dominating the media, it is no wonder that when Manny climbed to boxing fame, every filipino or part filipino begun to follow his career. And for every punch he takes or loss he has, their heart swells. A humble man from humble beginnings takes the world by storm fighting not only his boxing opponents but also fighting poverty. He is the symbol of hope for a struggling third world country and every filipino will be proud to say they are apart of his fellow country men. Celebrities with a filipino heritage seem few and far between, so it is the likes of Nicole Sherzinger, Bruno Marz, Vanessa Hudgens, Apple from Black Eyed Peas and Manny Pacquiao that make me proud to be filipino.Photo courtesy of www.touch.latimes.com
Until next time…