By Leouna Feih R. Hidalgo
Editor’s Note: This essay written by 14-year-old Leouna Feih Hidalgo was an entry for the 1st Fil-Am History Month Essay Writing contest launched in October 2018 by the FilAm Press Club of New York.
Feih is currently on her first year at the Cardinal Spellman High School. She graduated from St. Raymond Middle School as a Class Valedictorian 2018. A well-traveled young leader (been to Europe, Asia, and the Philippines), Feih also has the makings of a visual artist.
There were always talents hidden in the shadows, the people who were taken over and hidden in history, these people are called Filipinos. I am a Filipino, except I am different.
I am a Filipino- American who has lived in America from birth to where I am now, and I am still partaking an ongoing journey being one.
Living in a neighborhood where the majority are Hispanic and Italian, there was a minority of Asians, specifically Filipinos. It did not bother me growing up, but there was always a curiosity of what it would be like to live in a Filipino community.
I was born with a lighter skin tone than what an average Filipino would look like, so I was always mistaken for being Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Having knowledge of my own ethnicity at a young age, I explained to them that I am a Filipino and that we are made up of thousands of islands, off the southeastern coast of Asia.
Many people think being a Filipino- American means you are completely white-washed into the American culture, but that depends on how you were raised! I am the offspring of my parents who immigrated from the Philippines to America and I was able to experience a lot of Filipino things.
For example, I was able to learn a fair amount of Tagalog from watching TFC, experienced a boodle fight, and wore an alampay to special occasions.
I am honestly proud to be a Filipino- American because it represents the people who were born from immigrants that came from the Philippines. It also means to be a meaningful sign of being a proud pinoy, despite being apart of a minority.
I never felt ashamed to tell my friends what Filipino culture was like and how we are not that different from Hispanics! Tagalog has some form of Spanish incorporated into it, and many of our dishes are similar to Hispanic dishes.
It was never hard to fit into the majority, but there were times when people would make fun of me. In those cases, I would always laugh with them and say in my head, “Always be proud of what you are and how unique your own culture is.”
Saying this was always an important thing to me because it kept me from being ashamed of being a Filipino, and it helped me to not push aside my own culture in a majority’s culture.
Filipino- Americans are given an opportunity to make their future brighter for their parents. To me, that is an amazing goal to fulfill because it makes you strive for a better life that your parents gave you the opportunity for.
My parents are always telling me to work hard and how lucky I am to be in America, because I have so many things to look forward to.
Life as a Filipino- American shows the world that we can be big achievers, and we are making a statement living here!
We do not need publicity to show everyone what Filipinos are, rather, we are representing them all around the globe. I am proud to be a one of the many Filipinos around the world. I am proud to be the child of my parents who immigrated here. Most importantly, I am proud to be PINOY!