I heard a joke on the taxi radio the other day about an American, a Chinese, and a Filipino arguing over a piece of land. I’ve forgotten about the whole context of the joke but I remembered thinking about my family and how we grew up juggling 2 cultures at home.
You see, I’m technically half Chinese and half Filipino. My dad’s Chinese and my mom’s Filipino. I went to a Chinese school before college and grew up learning to speak Chinese and Tagalog at the same time. It is probably not too obvious that I scored less in the latter but none of that makes any difference now, because about 70% of what I learned in school has jumped out the window and left me.
There were days when being a halfling was a good thing like when you can just blend in both sides easily or when you can get away with a reason as to why you can’t speak Chinese or Tagalog well. We also enjoy both traditions and hear a lot of interesting superstitious stories.
What I found to be difficult though is that feeling of not having your own identity.
For example, I’ve encountered being outcast in a group because I was “too Chinese” for them. On the other hand, some Chinese acquaintances do not fully accept me as well for being “too Filipino”. And I always ask myself, which is it? That I’m too Chinese or too Filipino? There is a sense of not belonging to any particular group. Thank God though, I have a few friends who accept me.
There is that feeling of being discriminated because you are not entirely part of something. Honestly, it haunted me for quite a time when I was younger but now it doesn’t bother me that much. I think that being part of two cultures is a great privilege. You become unbiased about which one is right and which one isn’t.
“It’s like standing on top of two worlds merged into one.
Growing up was difficult but the challenge taught me a lot. For instance—that people can choose their own destiny. We become who we want to become. It is a matter of accepting and learning.