An Open Apology from a Filipino-American

by Julia Termulo

Dear “Actual” Filipinos, 

  1. I’m sorry for not being able to dance. Seriously. I just can’t. 
  2. I’m sorry for not being able to sing, either. 
  3. I’m sorry for never learning Jeremy Passion’s Lemonade on the ukulele to completion.
  4. 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?  
  5. I’m sorry for always finishing a pack of dried mangoes in one sitting. 
  6. 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. 
  7. I’m sorry for not wanting to be a doctor or a nurse. 
  8. I’m sorry for not having enough melanin.
  9. I’m sorry for having too much melanin. 
  10. I’m sorry for wanting eyes any other color besides this drab, dark shade of brown. 
  11. 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. 
  12. I’m sorry for not making an active effort to actually be well-versed in what’s going on in the Philippines. 
  13. I’m sorry for not believing in God. 
  14. I’m sorry for sometimes blaming my ethnicity for my tribulations in love. 
  15. 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. 

Julia Termulo 


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