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 […]
Tag: traveling filipina
“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.
“My spirit gets nourished in faraway places. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a biological need, perhaps a biological flaw, that compels me to seek the excitement and challenge that comes of being in a place where nobody knows me. Other times I think that my compulsion to settle into communities that are different from the ones I know is related to my passion for experiential learning. I learn best and most happily by doing, touching, sharing, tasting. When I’m somewhere I’ve never been before, learning goes on all day, every day.” ― Rita Golden Gelman, Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World
As I prepared for my fourth solo trip to Greece and Turkey a year ago, I was filled with some trepidation due to the fact that the said destinations might not be the best choices for a solo female traveler like me. These are countries that had been or are presently plagued with political and financial strife. It would be so easy if I was traveling with somebody or with a group. There is safety in numbers as they say. I was legitimately concerned about my security but a part of me, albeit naively, wanted to believe that nothing malevolent could possibly happen. There’s always a certain degree of anxiety before I embarked on my previous trips but everything almost always turned out okay and even when they didn’t, the memories and experiences are worth the aggravation and inconvenience. After all, Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
As a young girl, traveling around the world was what I always wanted to do when I grow up. It may have taken me awhile to get started but as soon as I booked that flight to Italy two years ago, I’ve been on a roll since. It’s truly been a dream coming true. Amidst the chaos of planning and packing, I thrive on the anticipation of visiting the places I’ve only seen in pictures and movies. I can’t wait to soak up all the sights, sounds and smells of every place and to get to know the people and the culture around me. I’m ready to go and take on the world, one destination at a time.
There’s no doubt in my mind that travel is my passion. Have you found yours? Please share your thoughts about this post in the comment section. I would love to hear about it.