Not Your Typical Filipina
I was born here. I was raised her. I was educated here. All in this small town of Malabon, this is where my life is, all of 47 years and counting. I now live with my 52 year old Irishman and I look like a half and half Chinese-Malay descent. He is a British Passport holder, I am a Philippine Passport holder. He has three children by his ex-wife who is Irish, I have three children by my late ex-husband, a Filipino. He has six grandchildren by his eldest daughter. A fact that made me an instant Grandma by default of marriage. So our total brood for now is six and six: six children, six grandchildren. However, we both define our new family as: him, me and my three daughters, all living in Malabon City.
That I have lived in this country instead of abroad is my choice. That I have married my English speaking husband is a Godsend. I met him over the internet in 2001. We had our first eyeball meeting two months after our first emails. Before that we had seen each other through our pc cams and had talked everyday, at least once a day, at the most three times or six times a day. I am the quasi conservative Filipina, who waited for the man to make the first move, and he is this lady’s gentleman, always there to help.
In our first emails, I warned him that I was not the typical ‘little brown Filipina’ that foreigners have been accustomed to surmise online. I wrote truthfully, that I was a single-mom, with three daughters still dependent on me. True to his form, he said he knew all along we were a ‘package-deal’ and that did not bother him at all. Ironically, his presence in this family now has drawn us closer together. The day we met, he said he was glad I was not a ‘little brown Filipina’. (My apologies to little brown Filipinas, this term is not meant to demean you but rather to typify me as the glaring opposite.)
I feel like an oddity as at my age, I still live in the same town and house my mother and grandmother have lived. Some will judge me as old-fashioned simply because. Having a foreigner for a husband is the best I can do for globalization.
Later on in our life, he did admit he found my family the untypical ‘Filipino’ family who always had rice as the first thing on the table. We often forget to cook rice as we were more accustomed to having pasta or sandwiches on the table. He was so happy that the whole family could speak to him in proper English. That fact was surprising to me and made me think, are not all Filipinos conversant in English?
If we did conceive a child, our child would be British-Filipinos. Unfortunately, I can no longer conceive by natural means.
Meeting my husband opened me up to new worlds online. Curious about his Irish and British Culture, my internet surfing has led me to Filipino Communities abroad. I have met, online and for real, quite a number of Filipina wives now living in the United Kingdom.
Often I wonder, is there such a big difference between the American-Filipina and the British-Filipina or some other foreign Filipina? Always, the differences play on my mind. Would it be at all possible for the British-Filipina to become more vocal and active about their status as the British-Filipina, as much as their counterparts in America have done?
Can you tell the difference between a Filipina in the USA and the Filipina in Europe? There is a difference, but is it because of the Filipina or the foreign culture they are in right now? I sit and watch and learn, the differences from my own country, the country from where comes the great Filipino.
Does my circumstance make you less of a Filipina or vice versa? Is the Filipina Identity static that it can be defined? I shrug my shoulders and think, maybe that when a Filipina is abroad, is where she is more clearly defined as a Filipina, meaning hailing from the Philippines. For me, as I am not your typical Filipina, my neighbors call me Chinese, the Chinese call me mestiza, maybe none of the above is more likely.
I was born and raised in this country, I can show you my lineage that counts back seven generations who were all born in this country. I live in this country. That I think in English, that I prefer to write in English, that my husband is British Irish, that I am more at ease cooking English or Irish food, that goes to show, there is no such thing as the typical Filipina really? What do you think?
I am Filipina, no doubts about it!