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Half-Pinoy, half-foreigner

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#1 bubba

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 05:29 PM

By Greg B. Macabenta
Half-Pinoy, half-foreigner

Conclusion of a speech delivered at the University of Maryland at College Park before members of the Filipino Cultural Association, a student organization.

When our family came to the United States, our children had many of the wonderful traits that a traditional Filipino upbringing develops. Respect for elders. A closeness with members of the family, including those several layers removed. Pride in the country of their birth.

Oh, yes, they also had many of the unhealthy values that the same Filipino upbringing infects you with. They thought that doing manual labor was demeaning. That waiting at tables, washing dishes and doing the laundry was only for the lowly. That it was normal to be served hand and foot by maids. That they were more equal than others and could jump the line or get ahead of the pack by pulling strings.

One of the best things that happened to our children in America, aside from the education that they have received, was a reorientation of values: learning the dignity of honest labor and the virtue of self-sufficiency, and taking pride in getting ahead based on one’s talents and skills, rather than on padrinos and connections. Yes, all of our children have waited at tables while going through college. And they are proud of it.

For many years, we lived on the eastern shore of Maryland, in the small town of Cambridge, a crab-oyster-corn-and-soya community. There were only two Filipino families in that town: mine and that of my elder sister. The children went through high school with American schoolmates and neighbors. Their friends would spend weekends at the house and were exposed to our Pinoy ways, as we were exposed to theirs.

The result was that their American friends learned to eat rice and native Filipino dishes and they also learned to eat with fork and spoon. To this day, many of these young Marylanders still visit us in San Francisco and are treated like members of the family—for such is the Filipino way. Our children, on the other hand, all learned to work with their hands, to do things for themselves, to stand proud and confident alongside their American friends, to compete with them on equal terms in academics and sports, and to be every bit the teenage Americans that their new environment made of them.

Over time, our four children ceased being the young Filipinos that we brought over many years ago. They changed. Today, they are a shadow of what they were back in the Philippines. What have they become? Suffice it to say that how they define themselves is not as important as the upright, respectful, self-confident, affectionate individuals that my wife and I know them to be.

We certainly do not regret that they are different from their mother and myself and different, too, from their childhood friends back in the Philippines. This is what the development of the species is all about.

On the other hand, we are glad that in a multiethnic and multicultural society such as this, they recognize that they are fortunate to have Filipino roots to reach back to and American dreams to reach up for.

I would like to believe that you who are members of the Filipino Cultural Association have metamorphosed in a similar way. I advise you not to feel any guilt for not being as Pinoy as your old folks nor feel any inferiority for not being as “Kano” as your Anglo friends.

I encourage you to enrich your lives with the finest portions of the American pie. In science and technology, in culture and the arts, in business and trade, and in its relations with the rest of the world there is much to be admired and learned in America. Those of you who are Americans should stand proudly as citizens of this great country.

At the same time, I suggest that you immerse yourselves in Philippine history, culture and traditions so that you can also speak proudly of your antecedents. In this regard, take pride and participate in the celebration in 1998 of the first centennial of the declaration of Philippine independence—a courageous act undertaken in the face of threats from colonial powers, Spain and the United States. Take pride, too, in the fact that natives of Las Islas Filipinas were crossing the Pacific Ocean to the New World over half a century before the Mayflower traversed the Atlantic, and that Filipinos, especially those in California, played a role in the making of these United States.

There is one last thing that I would like to suggest to you. In the same manner that, through the Filipino Cultural Association, you are nurturing in America the best part of your Filipino-ness, I urge you to visit the land of your parents and to introduce back home the best of your American-ness.

And never try to be what you are not, nor bewail what you cannot be. Don’t waste your time pondering whether you are American enough or Filipino enough. To paraphrase that advertising slogan for the US Army—simply be the best you can become.
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#2 Roxas Ron

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 08:10 PM

darn good post bubba...

where do you come up with all your great posts?

#3 bubba

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 08:22 PM

darn good post bubba...

where do you come up with all your great posts?

Thanks Ron, Most of my posts come from Manila Times and Philippines Times newpaper. After reading my local paper, I will log onto the computer to read what is happening in the Philippines.
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#4 denterprise

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 08:26 PM

Very good post bubba, I hope you repost this once or twice a year so it will not get lost.
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#5 bubba

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 10:25 PM

I will try to post it once a year if I don't forget lol
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Posted 22 August 2006 - 11:27 PM

Great post bubba. Just so you dont have to keep posting it lol I'll pin it to the top of the thread so it will always be there for us to read.
Thanks bubba.

#7 bubba

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Posted 23 August 2006 - 12:15 AM

Thanks Tim
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#8 Mitchy76

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 05:19 AM

Wow! Thanks for sharing it here. B)
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#9 ckoahou

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 10:52 AM

Wow, this is a good post... :)

#10 LadyJustice

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Posted 24 September 2006 - 11:19 AM

That's a GOOD one, Bubba. I am going to copy and paste this post and email it to my friends.

Proud to be Pinoy,

Amor vincit omnia

#11 Psoas10

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 09:16 AM

Yeah that is a good post. Also they have had a big part in shaping the culture of Hawaii. Many things Filipino are part of the general culture here, esp the food.

#12 wayne&cheyen

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 01:36 PM

What a great post! Thats what I like here at this site. I learn so much everytime I log on. Now I have even greater insight into my future with my fiance. Thanks Bubba.

#13 Shoeaholic

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 07:59 PM

Rock on Bubba! Very very true. Our borders are increasingly disappearing with the continuos meeting and mingling of various cultures due to globalization. The "we" and "them" mentality simple does not work in a borderless world, it only creates conflict and more division in our society. Instead, why don't we take what's best in our culture, learn from others and build something new that incorporates the best of both.

Edited by Shoeaholic, 07 March 2009 - 08:02 PM.

#14 asianstreak

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 01:35 AM

THANK YOU SO MUCH BUBBA for posting this..this are one reason why I choose to bring my kids when they will reach 18 years old. I want them to feel and enjoy the beauty of being a filipino,embrace each moment the life that we have there.I am a very proud filipina and I always take pride of my kin.And will never ever forget the place where I came from ...yes my presents is in america but my heart still in the Philippines.And I will go back there when Im ready to say goodbye to the world.I want to die in my homeland and not here.My land of birth is Philippines and so I die in Philippines.

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