Happy Philippine Independence day, everybody! Didn’t know it was today? Didn’t know it was? Most Americans won’t recognize it…not unlike the United States’ position on the occasion back on June 12, 1898.
I celebrate because I’m Filipino by marriage; our son, by heritage. And I want our son to know his peeps. Of 50-50 US to Philippine parentage, our 4-year-old halo-halo or
“mix-mix,” a tasty Pinoy drink, is learning Tagalog from his mom and has probably well surpassed his father’s ability. So much for my goal of fluency at our first wedding anniversary…
While I still run rings around him in Japanese, German, and Spanish, he’s gaining some serious momentum. I’m certain he’ll give me a polyglotic run for my money some day, particularly when I consider that he gained his current ability before he officially dismissed pull-up diapers from his night-time wardrobe…
The islands have a fascinating history. A Spanish colony for about 500 years, it was occupied until recently by the USA for 50-some years. It’s an appropriate quip that “the Philippine islands spent 500 years in a convent and 50 years in Hollywood.” That’s enough to mess with anybody’s notion of self.
It’s kinda sad how true that is. I explored the above quote and the idea of Filipino national identity in a research paper in 2006. From what I’ve gleaned, the identity is questionable, yet tangible. There’s pride in being Pinoy, but finding facets of the culture that are distinctly their own and not engendered by the States or Spain is tough.
I mean, the country is named after King Phillip of Spain, under whose reign his explorers “discovered” the island. Methinks it was there and doing just dandy before being discovered. But hey, half a millennium later, I get a fantastic wife. Thanks, Phil!
Pride in being of Pinoy heritage has found renewed interest in unexpected
places. Take the hip-hop music of The Black Eyed Peas (BEP)—Apl, a founding member of the group and halo-halo himself—often refers to his heritage and sings in Tagalog!
- Check out a slow, biographical tune: “The Apl Song“
- Or something upbeat: “Bebot” I use this as my wake-up call…and then promptly go back to sleep: <alarm goes off> “Zzz…huh? Wha? 5:45 already? <Tagalog lyrics kick in> “Hey, Apl…cool. Represent the homeland, my bruthah! Represszzzzzzzz…“
Being a writer, I was pleased to know that there are many, many celebrated Filipino writers, too. One in particular, Carlos Bulosan, was even commissioned by FDR to write an essay. The piece, entitled “Freedom from Want,” you might not recognize. But you’ll have no problem recognizing the corresponding Norman Rockwell painting of the same name. Both works appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on March 6, 1943.
After getting engaged some years ago, I discovered that my great-uncle Jake courted a Filipina lady during his time in the service. As he passed away while stationed abroad, the familial connection to the ‘ppines had to wait a few generations.
Know your history, peeps. You might just have a stronger connection to those 7,000 islands* in the Western Pacific than you think: http://tinyurl.com/PinoyIndependence.
* And 7,000 is at high tide.