Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Becoming an American without Losing My Roots: a Monumental Inner Journey, Part 2

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Becoming an American without Losing My Roots: a Monumental Inner Journey, Part 2

motorcycling during our RVing days
It was really sad. I had to renounce my Filipino citizenship when I took my oath as a US citizen on Valentines’ Day 2011. But later, when I found out that the Philippines is one of the few countries for which the US allows dual citizenship, I jumped with joy. The only problem was that there was no Philippine Consulate near Phoenix, Arizona. The nearest one is six hours away in Los Angeles, California.  

As my husband took me RVing across America for eight years, I noticed changes. When my dancing changed from disco and ballroom to country and rock, I took a little pause but went on. When my kitchen changed from cooking adobo, pancit and lumpia to grilling burgers and hot dogs and baking pies, I began to be alarmed. When I started to feel proud of America‘s beauty, history, and accomplishments, I questioned myself, “Was I abandoning my roots?”

Filipino celebration in Las Vegas

I readily shift to Tagalog when I am with my country mates. Although my husband says I hardly have any accent, I still think in Tagalog and feel more at ease speaking in my native tongue. I still feel a sandwich is not a complete meal because there’s no rice and that pan de sal (bread) is only for snacks or breakfast. And, I will never erase the fact that my skin is brown and my nose is small. Neither do I want to change.

When Megan Young was crowned Miss World, I beamed with pride because the Philippines emerged as the only country that has won all five of the most coveted global beauty titles. Now people may consider me beautiful, too! When I meet Filipinos around the world who are sacrificing not being with their families to eke out dollars to send home, I readily commiserate with them. Certainly, pride for Filipino triumph and compassion for Filipino difficulties will always be my automatic impulse.

two flags at our window
There is a deep kinship between the Philippines and America. As I toured the Cascade volcanic landscape, I realized we shared the Pacific Ocean and with it, the treacherous Pacific Ring of Fire. In fact, Spain colonized the American Southwest and the Philippines during the same period. Countless Filipino nurses, teachers, and seamen are an integral part of US hospitals, schools, and ships. And July 4 is doubly meaningful for, on that day in 1946, the US gave us our independence, 170 years after she got her own.

But I also am keenly aware of the differences. The Philippines is a tropical archipelago of 7,107 islands while the US is more of a vast contiguous temperate land. Plants and wildlife are different. And when I step into the wide vistas of the Great Plains, the desert landscape of the Southwest, and the glaciers of Alaska, it is a world many moons away from what I knew as a child. And I see that American systems are so much more developed. But the Philippines is only 68 years old; the US, already 238. There are time and room to grow!

oath-taking as dual citizen at Philippine Consulate ein LA

So, on Oct.3. 2013, I went to the Philippine Consulate in LA, two years after I obtained my US citizenship. I re-pledged my loyalty to my native land and became a Filipino-American. I did not get boiled into the thick soup melting in the pot. Instead, I got included in a colorful chunky stew, contributing to the taste, but retaining enough of my own shape, color, and flavor. In this privileged perch, I see my developing homeland from the perspective of my developed country. There is no other mission for me but to help the Philippines as an American and to contribute to America as a Filipino. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave a Comment