I am Filipino-Canadian. I was born in Manila, Philippines and moved to Toronto, Canada when I was just four years old. I’m in my late twenties now and my life has been a constant tug of war, an ongoing push and pull of these two places, two cultures, two identities. In short, it has been a life of living in between, of living in the hyphen.
I have never felt particularly Filipino. Growing up, I never adhered to cultural traditions. I could never really relate to the Filipino kids at school. I never had a debut or a cotillion. My parents never subscribed to the Filipino Channel to watch the latest teleseryes or variety shows. We barely, if ever, went to church. Up until high school, my closest friends were always Chinese or Vietnamese. When I got to university and started working and dating, I was/am surrounded by white people. I have always worn this difference with pride.
But I have also always felt strongly, inherently, and boldly Filipino. Something about the inextricable bonds between my family. The unwavering gratitude and obligation I feel towards my parents. That soul-wrenching love for song and dance. The natural warmth that I feel and exude. This unnameable spirit of resistance and defiance. I have always worn this essence with pride.
That these two truths could exist at once is something that has boggled me my whole life.