An Open Apology from a Filipino-American
by Julia Termulo
Dear “Actual” Filipinos,
- I’m sorry for not being able to dance. Seriously. I just can’t.
- I’m sorry for not being able to sing, either.
- I’m sorry for never learning Jeremy Passion’s Lemonade on the ukulele to completion.
- I’m sorry for having zero eyebrow hair. Seriously - that’s just me right? All you other Filipinos seemed to be blessed. Where the fuck is MY eyebrow hair?
- I’m sorry for always finishing a pack of dried mangoes in one sitting.
- I’m sorry for having the Filipino vocabulary of a literal newborn. As in I literally know as much Tagalog as a baby that has just been born.
- I’m sorry for not wanting to be a doctor or a nurse.
- I’m sorry for not having enough melanin.
- I’m sorry for having too much melanin.
- I’m sorry for wanting eyes any other color besides this drab, dark shade of brown.
- I’m sorry for always wishing my round nose was smaller, skinnier, just sharp enough to cut out the Filipino identity of which I claim to be so proud.
- I’m sorry for not making an active effort to actually be well-versed in what’s going on in the Philippines.
- I’m sorry for not believing in God.
- I’m sorry for sometimes blaming my ethnicity for my tribulations in love.
- Lastly, I’m sorry, but...I’ve never had Jollibee. Yes, I know. Not once, never. I’m sorry.
There are many ways I could be a “better” Filipino and believe me, I’m sorry. I’m trying.
But in spite of all these cultural shortcomings, I will never apologize for calling myself “Filipino.”
I may not fall into your definition of Fil-Am, but I am just as deserving of this Filipino-American title as any other child of Filipino people.
My immigrant parents did not overcome adversity here in America to provide me and my brother a fortunate childhood just for you to reduce my Filipino identity to simply “whitewashed.”
I don’t need to speak Tagalog or eat longganisa every day for breakfast to prove to you that I am Filipino. I just am, and you cannot take that away from me.