I miss the Philippines. I really do. However, I need to do a lot of things here before I go back. I want to help out my community here before I can even launch my revolutionary projects over there. I need to link arms with my fellow Americans and say to them, “We’re in this together.” They’re “my people” as much as Filipinos. I try to look out for them the way they’ve always looked out for me.
Whether it’s rebuilding the Detroit economy, preventing an escalation of violence in Chicago, or creating tech hubs in economically-depressed cities along the Rust Belt and in the Deep South, I hope to contribute any way that I can to this country that I love so much (despite my long track record of quarreling with 2 Democrat and 2 Republican presidential administrations for almost two decades–yeah, I’ve been pissed since I was young).
People might wonder what it’s like to not just be bilingual, but “bi-cultural,” in America. It’s simple. The analogy I often use is it’s like having divorced parents. You love your mom and dad equally. You call both houses your home. You spend the weekdays here and the weekends there. You feel comfortable sleeping on either mattress. It’s the same relationship I have with the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines.
I was made in the Philippines, but I was developed in the USA. I think that allows me to become a “man with no country” of sorts. Not in the sense that I reject both countries, but in the sense that I am a kid who doesn’t have to identify with one particular culture, and so I’m free to just be me.
Listen, for much of my life I never thought about my identity in nationalistic terms. I never really saw myself as either American or Filipino. I think of myself as just a dude, a human being among billions of other human beings trying to survive on planet Earth, in the Milky Way galaxy, in this universe.
But later on, I came to appreciate my Eastern and Western Hemisphere roots. I do have a fondness for Americans and Filipinos. I realized this when I began to travel abroad more often. How I end up high-fiving Americans and sparking small talk about NFL games or current affairs that are important to us, and other general things that non-Americans can’t relate with.
Even the way I communicate is different. The slang, aphorisms, regional terms, and references we use are different from the English I use in another country. For instance, someone who isn’t familiar with American terms might have trouble deciphering this sentence: “We were shooting shit when this random motherfucker passing by said, ‘Put yer Dukes up!’ So we fucked him up and ran him outta Dodge. When we saw him again, he was Monday morning quarterbacking. What a pussy.”
If you’re an English nobleman from York, you might be thinking, “Shooting shite? Dukes? Is he talking about me? Dodge…the car? Is Monday morning quarterbacking intercourse before morning tea??”
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of non-Americans nowadays talk the way we do due to the American English-centric internet and TV shows and movies, but there are certain language and cultural nuances that you pick up growing up in the United States which bilingual people abroad don’t understand.
In the Philippines, I struggled to articulate my humor which comes out naturally when I’m speaking English. But my rapid fire delivery of a quip is blocked by my slow translation processing. By the time it reaches my lips, I feel that my translated thoughts sound awkward and fall short. However, when I met another American dude in Tokyo, we talked for an hour like we’ve been best friends since kindergarten. That familiarity–something that’s the norm when we’re here in the U.S.–is like an ice-cold glass of Lone Star beer when you’re abroad.
Likewise, when I see a Filipino person here in the U.S., I immediately talk to them in Tagalog (even though they might not even be Tagalog, but Visayan or Ilocano) and we’d reminisce about home.
It’s human nature to love your tribe(s), but that doesn’t mean I despise all others. You can put me in Kazakhstan or Norway or Ecuador or Tanzania, and I will make them “my people” too.
What I’m trying to say is…how the FUCK did Miss France win Miss Universe? Come on, Miss Haiti was perfect!