Am I a Filipina?
At least I thought I was. But then the internet came about and suddenly there was an on-rush of ‘Idealized Filipinas’ as perceived by the American GI, the pornsite king, the friends of Leani Lei. The Filipina for them, was the “little brown gal” often found in Olongapo City bars or some other American GI R&R location.
That did not perturb me in my quest for my soulmate. Often on chat, I’d warn them that I was not the stereotypical ‘Little Brown Girl’ that Filipinas are often pictured as. I’d tell them that they can call me a Manila Girl, the urban Filipina, City Girl.However, the term Manila Girl also has bad connotations as I found out. Tell them you are a Manila Girl and they ask if you are from Ermita or that famous Ferguson Plaza or the L.A. Cafe’. AAArrrggghhhhh!
Okay so what is the one term that will describe me now?
So now I am married to a ‘foreigner’ and living in the Philippines…can I now relate to the word ‘Filipina’? Not so fast lady. Not one word to describe me, I just tell them I am from Metromanila, Philippines (trying too hard not to sound like a Ms. Universe wanna be!).
Ok so kool, I now do not have to describe myself online as I have reached my goal of getting Mr. Right. But why do I feel I still am not a Filipina?
I am here in the Philippines, in Manila, still living in the same house where my grandparents started their family. It is near the house where my great grandparents started their family. I can trace back more then 5 generations of my ancestry here in this same town. I can look forward to 3 more generations from nephews and nieces still in this same country. But I still do not feel like I can even be described a Filipina.
I can cook litson or nilaga or adobo, but I cannot cook kare-kare, or sinigang, or cassava cake. I have been used to eating bread instead of rice. Last item to appear on my dining table is the rice, and we only have a small rice cooker good for 5 people in the family.
I started learning Tagalog only when I moved to an Immaculate Conception School from the English speaking Maryknoll. I think in English and translate in Tagalog, unlike other ‘Filipinas’ who think in Tagalog and translate to English, “Open the light!”
I can prepare a good German Potato Salad, breeze through cooking a breakfast steak, make boiled and fried cabbage, lasagna, all kinds of pasta. I do not really like eating kakanin or puto, but I can make pizza from scratch, bake a party cake and ice it properly.One time I made champorado, I made it with oats and Milo, not with sticky glutinous rice or tsokolate. I got delicious raves for that.
That I have fair skin and chinky eyes and look more Chinese than the illegal brides from Taiwan, does not make me less of a Filipina. I am me, I am comfortable where I am, I am happy in my own country.
Makes me wonder why the Filipinas who live abroad think I am less of their kind of Filipina? Am I less of a Filipina just because I choose to live in the Philippines instead of abroad? Just because they are abroad, what makes them superior to me?
I don’t have to prove myself. My husband flew all the way from the UK to marry me and that is a very flattering gesture. I am an urban Filipina, not from any province but my small Metro Manila town. I am just as Filipina as the Filipinas who choose to retire abroad with their foreign husbands. For me, the grass where I stand on, is just as green, or even greener than the grass on the other side of the fence, whereever the otherside may be.