If you follow this blog; then you know that I do not have a set pattern or schedule for entries. Nor do I have a set list of topics upon which to write =) Originally, I thought that the next entry would be a show and tell with photos, but I've decided to write about how we are all connected instead. Perhaps, it's because we've just begun a whole new year (if you believe in the concept of time and calendars ;p that is) that has me reflecting on what unites us all.
Back when I was growing up my family was one of the few families who were not white/Anglo-Saxon/Caucasian and as such we came under more scrutiny than the other families. Basically everything you did seemed a bit strange to people who didn't live in your household. To be fair though I remember when I started Kindergarten that most people didn't speak more than one language. I thought it was normal to be at least be bilingual if not multilingual.I remember my brother Jonathan and I packing Siopao (a Chinese style Bao steamed bun filled with meat or vegetables) and everybody saying 'Ewww what's that you're eating... are you eating raw dough? gross.' I think we did try to explain to them what it was, but I don't think they listened because we would hear it time and time again.
|Check out the link to the site where I got this photo for more information about Siopao =)|
I know that my family did try to share information on about the Philippines and about Pilipino Culture whenever they had a chance to; such as when it was near the Holidays. I remember building a parole ( a star shaped lantern, something traditional that you see during the Holidays in the Philippines) with my Dad. We also made tambourines by flattening bottle caps, using a hammer and nail to punch a whole through the middle of them and sliding them on a hanger bent into a circle.They came by the school dressed in Barong Tagalog and Butterfly dresses. During some Music class my Mother came in to show our class how to dance Tinikling ( a dance not for the poorly hand eye coordinated =) It requires lightening quick reflexes while dancing and jumping through clacking bamboo poles) and I helped demonstrate it too. I think the most memorable part though for my classmates and perhaps the teachers as well as us bringing Lumpia Shanghai (Pilipino Eggrolls).
|Some of the more modern type of Paroles, check out the site where I got this photo to learn more about them. =)|
In Kindergarten, it was the first time I encountered the feeling of being something different when one of my classmates referred to me as the 'Chinese girl.' Which to me felt obviously wrong because I was well aware of my Pilipino roots. My Kindergarten teacher actually made us talk about it during a sitting circle the same day it happened. If that had happened today; I probably would have been able to succinctly tell them why it felt strange to me to be referred to as the 'Chinese girl', but then go on to explain how we are really all related in the world.
|This photos is pretty darn close to what the Lumpia Shanghai that we brought to numerous functions looked like! Check out the link to read more about them as well as to get a recipe =)|
|Click on the hypertext to see a cool youtube video of the Leyte Philippine Dance Company dancing Tinikling =)|
|I think the original site where this photo came from is gone, but you can find tons by searching for Filipino Butterfly dresses =)|
All through school I would get the question whether politely or rudely 'What are you?' 'Yes, I know you're American, but where are you really from?' Probably my most memorable moment was being so offended that I made somebody list all the Asian countries that they knew and kept on making them try to think really hard.... I think they kept on repeating the same 3 countries over and over again and at the end of it I just said 'I'm from Germany' and walked away.
Now, that was supposed to be some kind of quip from me, but honestly, there's no reason why I couldn't be German. Nobody can say that they 100% this or that and that they come from one single place or country. Our Ancestors traveled all over the world and through diaspora and colonization we kept on mixing it up again and again.
I think we all have our hands and feet in so many different cultural pools. On my father's side his ancestors originally migrated to the Philippines Islands from the Fukien Region in China. On my mother's side we have ancestor's that originally came Spain and Mexico. My Mother's side of the family are often referred to as Mestizo or Mestiza because they tended to have much lighter skin than the other Pilipinos.
Growing up I never thought I looked like either of my parents, my oldest brother and I look similar, but my 2nd oldest brother looks more like my Dad's side of the family. When I went to the Philippines to visit relatives in 2004, I was introduced to one of my Mother's Aunties to which whom I said 'Kumusta kayo po' and she took one look at me and slapped me hard on the face. It was a truly powerful slap because I was stunned and thought maybe I said something or did something wrong, but the she said in Ilocano the equivalent of 'Son of a gun, you look just like your Mom and Dad.' =p
My oldest brother and I always get asked if we're Hawaiian, Indian or Native American and my response would always be, 'Well, my Parents are originally from the Philippines, but you know everybody is related in the world; so I really cannot say no.' Most of the time the people will smile and say something like 'Yeah, you know, you're right.' I do get the occasional person who kind of looks at me like I'm a bit kookoo, but that's okay. At least it gives them something to think about for later =)
I am fascinated to think about all of our ancestors and how we all came to be at this point.
If you believe that Earth was once 1 continent named Pangaea; then you know we most likely started all together. Scientifically, if you understand what Carbon Based Life form means then you know that basically we are the universe and the universe is us. Moby tried to tell you all about it in his song 'Stars' =)
'People they come together, people they fall apart, nothing can stop us now, we are all made of stars...'
Whether you not you believe that; I think that when we all mourn or rejoice together; it's because we see each other in ourselves. We have the ability to achieve good and positive things together; if we choose to do so. We also have the potential to create great harm and I always hope people choose to be positive.
Through events in history; society has tried to devise ways to divide people into groups or classes. The most famous societal invention is the idea of 'race.' Whenever I talk to people and this comes up in conversation I often refer to the American Anthropological Association's Statement on 'Race.'
I remember sitting in class when my Anthropology professor was discussing it and seeing so many people's jaw's dropping in amazement. I think that the idea of 'race' is so deeply ingrained in society that it seemed like a revelation to them. Anyway, read through it yourself and let me know what you think.
It's hard to let go of preconceptions; no matter what the topic may be, but you just have to realize that people are people; so we should just respect one another.
Let go of the prejudice and just embrace one another.
We are all connected and together we are all family.