Being adopted has to be one of the scariest things that can happen to a young child. When I was 5 years old my mother got married to a Filipino man and I was immediately taken in by his family, being hugged and kissed by people I had never met before. Right away I learned how my grandfather fought in World War II and that his military benefits were stripped away from him thanks to the congress. I got to try all sorts of new foods, some of them being absolutely disgusting according to my thoughts, however the desserts were delicious. They made me call everyone my auntie or uncle and all of the elders were to be called “Lola” or “Lolo” even if I had no idea who they were. The Filipino culture was very different to me, however I liked it, they made me feel accepted even though I was not Filipino and not even related to them by blood.
If you are Filipino or know a Filipino family then you know that they are constantly having parties. If you are invited to a Filipino’s house for a party then it is only acceptable to arrive 15 or 30 minutes prior to the arrival time. Arriving before the given time is considered rude and disrespectful and you must wait to be seated, for there may be a seating arrangement. Often you will be eating in a buffet style type of meal where you serve yourself however you must not start eating until your host tells you to do so. It is respectful to dress well, compliment on your hosts’ house and a week after the party you should show class by sending your host a handwritten thank you note for allowing you in their house. (“Philippines - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette.")
The Filipino foods are to die for, including adobo, which consists of pork or chicken slowly marinated in oil, vinegar and soy sauce, usually served over white rice. Another popular, and American favorite is lumpia, which is similar to the egg role. However there are some strange delights that the Filipino’s enjoy, such as fried blood or balut, which is an underdeveloped duck egg. Filipino desserts are to die for, including leche flan, banana-que, puto and pitchi pitchi. At the dinner table Filipino’s tend to lift their knees up on the table and eat with their bare hands. When you are at a party or dinner hosted by a Filipino family, you are more than likely to be served at least a three-person worth platter (“Filipino Culture and Homeland”).
It is common for Filipino’s to work in the same company, for many collective bargaining agreements state that hiring will be given to family members over citizens. Filipino’s believe that if they don’t live up to expectations or accepted standards that they have brought shame to not only themselves but their family also. If one is publicly humiliated or criticized for not achieving their prior intentions then they lose a lot of self esteem and are known to go into depression. (“Philippines – Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette”)
Filipino’s are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, depression and suicide, elder abuse, gout and TB or HIV. Many elderly Filipino’s will take matter into their own hands when it comes to health. Often they will monitor themselves of symptoms, talk to a family member or try and heal themselves by using commercial remedies such as herbs, teas and nonprescription medication. (“Health and Health Care of Filipino American”). It takes a lot for a Filipino to actually seek advice from a health care professional. They are also very independent people and engage in self-care practices such as diet management and exercise; you’ll often hear them talk about their use of herbal oils and healing massages as well.
Over 500 languages are spoken in the Philippines, with Tagalog being the number one (“Filipino Culture and Homeland.”). English is their second official language and many elders speak English however they prefer their native tongue, especially in stressful situations (“Health and Health Care of Filipino American”). Americanized Filipino’s speak Tag-Lish, which is a combination of English and Tagalog. Like I mentioned earlier, you always address elders as “Lola” or “Lolo” even if they are not your grandma or grandpa. Eye contact is very important while speaking to your Lola or Lolo, as it shows respect towards authority figures.
During the World War II roughly 250,000 Filipino’s fought in defense of the US against Japan. More than half of the Filipino’s were killed and those who survived were promised military benefits by President Roosevelt. In 1946 the Rescission act was passed which robbed the Filipino’s of their benefits. Recently, Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which provided a payment of $15,000 to Filipino veterans living in the US today and $9,000 to the veterans in the Philippines (Pimentel, Joseph). The Filipino flag was the only one displayed upside down during war. Why, you may ask. The blue band on the top of the flag represents peace and the red band on the bottom of the flag represents courage. At war-time, the flag was held upside down to give emphasis on courage rather than peace (“Filipino Culture and Homeland”).
Filipino Americans are described as the most “Americanized” of the Asian American ethnicities. Even though they are the second largest group in the Asian Americans, community activists describe them as “invisible” saying that they’re virtually unknown to the American public. In the 1990s it was said that some hundreds of Filipino Americans were elected or appointed to public office. This goes back to the concept that Filipino Americans are invisible. Along with other Asian Americans, Filipino Americans are seen as “perpetual foreigners” even if born in the US. Unfortunately this has resulted in physical attacks on them as well as non-violent forms of discrimination (“Filipino American”).
"Filipino Culture and Homeland." Filipino Culture and Homeland. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.
“Philippines - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette." Kwintessential. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.
"Health and Health Care of Filipino American." Health and Health Care of Filipino American. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
Pimentel, Joseph. "Bill to Give Filipino WWII Veterans Full Equity Filed." Asianjournal.com. N.p., 12 Jan. 2011. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
"Filipino American." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 04 Oct. 2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2013