March 2003: Hours before my departure for the Philippines and in the midst of last-minute packing, I called my mother to verify my arrival in Manila. Despite the bad phone connection, I sensed that something wasn’t right. She sounded frazzled. She haltingly informed me then […]
“It is a bitter-sweet thing, knowing two cultures. Once you leave your birthplace nothing is ever the same.” ― Sarah Turnbull
I got my US citizenship for years now and some might say that I’ve been “Americanized”. By definition, it means “To make or become more typical or characteristic of America, especially in terms of culture, customs, language, etc.” That doesn’t sound necessarily bad, right? But why is it that when some people refer to someone as being “Americanized”, it’s usually tinged with some negativity or censure? I’ve read in one forum before that one of the reasons some Western men opt to travel all the way to the Philippines to meet Filipinas for a relationship is because they are not “Americanized” yet. Say what?!!! Since when does assimilation rules you out as a potential mate? Search for love abroad by all means but do not succumb to the illusion that Filipinas are immune to being transformed by their environment. One must adapt in order to survive even in the land of milk and honey.
There are always going to be stereotypes attached to every cultures and races, including the expatriates (persons who live outside their native country). Most likely, if you’re a Filipino expat and had been back to the Philippines for a visit, you’ve probably been described by a friend or relative as “liberated” or “Americanized” already. How so, you ask? The responses are likely based on the western movies and media they’re exposed to that depicts a so-called American lifestyle. Unless they have actually lived and breathed in the culture, it’s really a moot point explaining that there’s more to being an American than what they surmise. Anyway, here’s a list of some pigeonholed views of an Americanized Filipino expat. Whether you agree or not, this list is generally based on superficial and clichéd observations by fellow balikbayans, so take it with a grain of salt.
To some Filipinos, being an Americanized Filipino expat means:
• sporting a lighter (or any) shade of hair color other than what you were born with. I am admittedly guilty of this but millennials nowadays are sporting all sorts of hairstyles and colors anyway so it shouldn’t be a big deal anymore.
• speaking with an exaggerated American accent or nasal twang or sounding like someone from the hood, peppering the language with expletives or profanity. Essentially, even just speaking the English language fluently or articulately (or not) might give you that assignation.
• wearing revealing outfits or dressing up in hip-hop duds. I’ve seen some people wearing cool-weather apparel when it’s 90+ degrees Fahrenheit out there!
• providing people free entertainment with PDAs (public displays of affection) and “lascivious” gossip material ( premarital or extramarital sex, divorce). Pretty much any type of behavior that makes people’s tongue wag.
• fairer skin color especially when they used to be tanner or dark-skinned.
• losing some of the family values and Filipino traditions
• not being religious and not practicing the Catholic faith.
And the list can go on and on.
When I travel abroad, I always wonder what it’s like for other expats living in their respective host countries. How is it being Frenched, Germanized, Dutched, Britished, Japanized, etc? I don’t even know if there are such terms but you get the gist. I am curious as to how their new country’s culture have influenced their views and way of living. Is it ever a struggle to maintain a cultural identity or is it easier to shed it off altogether? Feel free to sound off or leave any feedback in the comment section. I would love to know your thoughts on this post.
“Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” – Anais Nin The television gets so much bad rap and yet it continues to grab people’s attention. It’s […]
TRAVEL ALONE … and see things from a different point of view.
Traveling by myself is nothing new to me. When I was a young girl growing up in the Philippines, I’ve always gone to places unaccompanied or unescorted by an adult. I don’t remember feeling scared or intimidated at all. In fact, I looked forward to those trips and usually volunteered for errands that required travel. My grandmother used to say that I was born to wander because I have moles on the sole of my left foot. I don’t know if there’s validity to her claim but I’ve always felt the urge to leave and go somewhere, anywhere … and the farther, the better. Back then, I just know that I was meant to be anywhere but home. It sounds wrong to say that but that’s how I really felt. Whenever asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, I always answered, “I want to travel the world.” My wish came true, when at the age of 24, I left the Philippines for a nursing job in the US. Thus, began my roaming ways.
Over the years, I have traveled to many places in the US and Europe. I am lucky to be friends with people who are just as interested to see and experience what these wonderful cities and countries can offer. Suffice to say that in those trips, I mostly tagged along and was content to leave most of the planning and logistics to those who were willing to figure things out for the group. As a result, I didn’t pay much attention to the details and didn’t have a lot of input into where to go and what to do. Consequently, I felt that I missed out on a lot of things and places that I might have been interested to explore or experience. To be fair, it wasn’t anybody else’s fault but mine. I should have been more proactive as they were my trips too.
In the recent years, it’s been more challenging to plan trips with people. Our schedules and time-tables were not aligning and we seemed to have differing destinations in mind. I’ve been reading a lot of articles on women traveling solo and the idea became more attractive to me. After giving myself a rousing pep talk about being adventurous and independent, I booked myself a flight to Florence, Italy and went gung-ho on researching and planning. So, on July of 2015, I spent a wonderful week in Florence and Cinque Terre and I can definitely say, that I am now absolutely obsessed and irrevocably addicted to solo travel. That week changed my life in so many ways than I can enumerate here. Perhaps this video can show it better.
Now that I’ve been doing it alone, it’s challenging to go back to traveling with anyone else again unless it’s with someone with a compatible traveling sense. For now, I will be wandering this earth on my own terms and loving every second of it. It might not be for anyone but if you are someone who have thought about it, what’s keeping you from pulling the plug? I’d say stop hedging and overthinking it and just book that flight. Even if it turns out to be not your cup of tea, at the very least, you can say you’ve done it. It’ll still be very much worth it. And if you have traveled solo or is a seasoned solo traveler, please comment below to share your thoughts on this blog post. I would love to hear back from you.