Yes, I am the publisher of several sites for Filipinas like this blog, the site at pinay.com and a few others. I also create and publish other Filipino sites that are a part of my own search for my Filipino identity in a global community. I chaired an international Filipina leadership conference in New York city in 2005, and then co-directed an international Filipino conference on indigenous identity and spirituality in 2010.
I’ve been doing this stuff since 1998. And this is what I call my “secret” life. Only because as I go about my daily life of going to work, being with family or visiting with friends, I just don’t go around saying “Hi, I am Filipina,” or “btw, did you know, I am a Filipina,” or “i’m a pinay and i’m fierce and feisty”. There is no need of course. It’s out of context. And it’s because I just AM Filipina. There is no need to speak it. It is easier to just be. To just be Filipina. Di bala? (don’t you think)
And I know that for many Filipinas out there in the world, whether in the homeland or abroad, it is the same for them, too. They just are. As we live and breathe, we just exist as we are as Filipinas. We are women, born of Philippine people, living in the Philippine Islands or abroad. And there it is in our existence—a love of our family, our heritage, as we struggle to flow from day to day, to survive, to uplift ourselves.
I’ve asked myself “is it nationalistic to be proud to be a Filipina? Is it a silly thing to be nationalistic? Is it baduy or bakya?” And I know for sure that I don’t feel that way. Do you? If you do, do you ever gently probe as to why there is no connection between you and your country… your people… your loved ones?
You don’t have to agree with me on this, but I think that nationalism is only part of identifying oneself as a Filipina. Because nationalism is identifying one’s self with the country of the Philippines. Well I am. I am nationalistic because I am glad to be a child of the Philippines, Motherland/Inang Bayan. But this is not just about pride. This is also about Love. I love my family. I love my mother and father’s families of cousins, Titas and Titos, Lolas and Lolos. I love the young women and men I went to school with. I love the country side. I love the fields and mountains, the waterfalls and rivers. I love being a Filipina.
I am a Fil-AM as I was born in the States and then grew up in the Philippines between ages 11-23. When I was 11 my mom became a balikbayan in the 70s. It was a joy to grow up in the Philippines, be with my family, breath the air, learn and speak the dialects, imbibe the water and food of the Philippines. Does this mess my head up? Nope. I am also proud to be who I am here back in the U.S. A Filipino-American— a human being with a story that interweaves many stories, cultures, languages, people and loves.
Whether I am in the P.I. or the U.S., I don’t always think abouta Filipina, as I mostly think of myself as a woman, regardless of language and culture and geography. I bet it is the same for you too.
I also think of myself as a human being… being on the face of Mother Earth, nestled in her arms as I lay in the grass and feel the breeze over my skin while I stare at the sky filled with glistening stars, streaking meteorites, glowing planets and the smiling moon. I bet you have sometimes, too.
My husband is not Filipino. My children are mixed. I speak mostly English, now that I live in a foreign land, but when someone is curious and asks me, where are you from? With warmth and Love, I can say “I am Filipina.”
And when I say this, I feel a little glow from inside, knowing that, as I strive to be a good mother or daughter, a patient and supportive wife, a well-performing employee within a corporation, or an organizer among communities seeking their humanity as women, meaning as Pinoys abroad or wherever they are, or wisdom as seekers…a friend to a Filipino or non-Filipino… or whatever… When I do, I feel a warmth and a light emanating from within and spreading outwards, that I am a Filipina… maybe it is because I am borne of Filipino families who love each other deeply, and who have made sacrifices, and have had suffering, loss and tears, and who yet celebrate life with each other whenever they can.
Be Proud. Love being Filipina… Love being who you are in all your diversity and many levels of being… in your simplicity and deepest innermost Self(Loob). May it come easy to you to say—- I am a Filipina. And I Love.