Renowrites blog!

Author of YA novel "Enlightenment" available March 2019!

Happy Filipino American Month!

Those close to me know how important my Filipino heritage is to me. I consider myself informed about Filipino history, and in fact, one of my manuscripts is a fictional tale centered around the history of the Philippines and the Filipino existence in America.

In America, October is always known for falling leaves and Halloween costumes. For me, it also means it’s Filipino American Month — a chance to remember the generations of Filipinos that came before me, my contribution to the Filipino community, and hypothesize on the future prospects of bridging the gap between Filipinos in America and in the Philippines. I think about my great-grandfather who worked the fields of Stockton CA during the Great Depression making only pennies and sleeping in unlivable conditions with only hope being his motivation.

The years between 1890 and 1940 was a 50 year period that greatly changed the psyche of the majority of Filipinos. The entire 1800’s, Philippine schools were run by the Spanish. Filipino kids read Latin and spoke Spanish in class. Their native dialects were only spoken outside of school. They were in a Spanish-ruled society. Towns didn’t have mayors — they had Spanish lords who ruled the barangay to their whim. The Spanish influence ruled most of the provinces. English was never spoken as it is today in Philippine classrooms. Then the Spanish American War occurred in 1898, and this began the American influence on the Philippines.

I am a product of this American influence. I was raised in Michigan in a vibrant Polish and German community, and my childhood will always have memories of dancing the polka at a wedding and chowing down on kielbasa at summer festivals. I grew up doing All-American things; I played basketball, baseball and ran cross country (only for one year). I helped with the Homecoming floats and was even voted onto the Homecoming Court my sophomore year in high school. These are all things I look back on with appreciation, and I know I wouldn’t have had a chance to do any of those things without my parents making the decision to immigrate from the Philippines.

They immigrated because America was the land of opportunity where they could earn the coveted U.S. dollar and send money back to family who wished to have the same opportunity to immigrate. They learned how to communicate with people from different backgrounds who had a hard time understanding their English. They worked hard and provided medical care for a community they greatly cared about in Northern Michigan, but when they said “home,” I knew they meant the Philippines.

Filipino American Month is a fairly new concept in America, but a title I hope becomes more important to Filipinos all over the world. The California Senate passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 48 in 2009, recognizing October as Filipino American Month in California. It’s a great time to educate anyone interested in learning about Filipino history in America.

As a writer, I try to convey this history and current existence of Filipinos in America and hope it can hit a universal pulse. When I sit down to write, I can’t help but write from a Filipino American point of view.

Hopefully, one day my stories can be read by the world.

For anyone interested in learning more about the Filipino existence in America, I strongly urge people to read America Is In The Heart by Filipino poet and writer Carlos Bulosan. It will open your eyes to how much Filipinos have overcome to establish themselves in this great country.

Happy Filipino American Month everyone!

Filed under: Writing, , ,

3 Responses

  1. dypiangco says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and calling more attention to Filipino American history month. Like you, I’m a Filipino who was raised and heavily influenced by his American surroundings. It was only a couple of years ago that I began to really connect with my Filipino identity.

    I am in the process of completing a personal documentary called Home Unknown about a trip I took with my parents to the Philippines to reconnect with my roots. On the film’s website, http://HomeUnknown.com, I’ve started a blog. If you’re interested, I’d love to hear more about your experiences growing up as a Filipino in America and possibly sharing those on my blog.

    Stephen Dypiangco

    • reno1107 says:

      That would be great to talk to you about my Filipino experience in America. How far along is the film? I have lots of stories from my childhood!

      Your blog looks great!

      • dypiangco says:

        Great! Drop me an email at dypiangs@yahoo.com, and we’ll take it from there. I definitely want to share other Filipino American voices such as yours with the rest of the community.

        Thanks for taking a look at my blog. The movie is in post-production, but right now I’m gearing up for a fundraising push for next year.

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