I understand that it was made in jest- that I could not be considered Mindanaoan or even Filipino because I left the Philippines.
The thing is I still want to answer those statements, because I got a lot of flak even before I left. Why would you leave? Don’t you love the Philippines? You’re forsaking the country. You’re a traitor.
Hmm, I wonder- the heroes we have hailed before us also left the motherland. I wouldn’t equate myself to being a hero but you get the drift.
My being Canadian is an added layer to my identity- it does not eliminate my birth, my childhood, my life experiences in this country I was born and raised in. If anything, it has taught me to love the Philippines more despite all the prejudice I get for being Filipino. We are the underdogs of the world, and I have never felt more of an underdog than when I was a fish out of water, but I also never felt so much in love with my motherland too.
There are so many downsides to being born brown and living in a white world- an interracial relationship that’s deemed doomed from the start, an elusive career path borne out of your ethnicity. The insecurities that follow, alienation, depression. . .
My being Canadian does not eliminate my identity as a Filipino. It does not erase the culture, experiences, memories, tradition, and wisdom gained throughout my growing years in the Philippines.
You will never understand the pains of an immigrant,of being plucked out of one’s roots, a fish out of water, an oddball.
I have never in my life felt so Filipino until now and I have never loved my country more until now.It shows in my life’s path.I am more brown than you think.