We were watching Star Search a few years ago when I pointed out to my kids that one of the young contestants was a Filipino. My middle son, who was about six or seven, quickly quipped:
Him: No, he’s American. He’s from Chicago.
Me: Okay then, he’s Filipino-American. Much just like you are Filipino-Canadian.
Him: But I’m Canadian, mommy. I was born here.
Me: That’s true, Ryan. But you are also Filipino because me and daddy are from the Philippines. And just look at you. I know you are not as dark as your brothers and me and daddy, but you look Filipino.
And I think that’s when we started going to Folklorama. To introduce them to our heritage and culture.
The other day, my youngest son, who’s ten, was telling me how they were talking about Canada Day (July 1) at school. So I thought I’d check with him if he still understands that he’s Filipino-Canadian.
Me: You know that you’re Filipino-Canadian, right?
Me: Let’s say your teacher asks you why you’re both Filipino and Canadian, how will you explain it?
Him: My parents were born from the Philippines and then she moved here in Winnipeg. Then she had a baby. And that baby was me.
Me: Wait, why did you say “she?” You have two parents.
Him: I’m just talking about you.
I thought I’d have more fun with him. So I asked him another question.
Me: How are you different from other Canadians?
Him: What do you mean?
Me: Okay, I’ll make it simpler. How are you different from your Canadian friends, like Blake or Mitch? Give me three answers.
Him: Okay. I don’t think Blake knows Tagalog words, but I do.
Me: Let’s see what Tagalog words you know.
Him: Kulangot, puwet, buhok. (Booger, bum, hair)
Me: But Ryland, those are gross words, okay maybe except for the last one. Give me another answer.
Him: I eat rice everyday. I don’t think Blake eats rice. Also some Filipinos eat with their hands and they don’t.
Me: Oh, you mean how daddy sometimes eat with his hands? But Canadians also eat with their hands when they eat French fries or chicken strips or something like that.
Him: Also, we go to church. I don’t think my friends do.
Me: Okay, that’s three. Very good. But you know, some Canadians also go to church, right?
Him: Can I tell you one more?
Him: The colour of my skin.
Me: That’s very good. So you understand why you’re Filipino-Canadian.
Him: Yeah. But mommy, why is it Filipino first?
Me: You mean why not Canadian-Filipino instead?
Me: Mmm. Good question. But you know how they say African-American or Italian-American? I don’t know. Maybe because it sounds better.
I was stumped. So what do you think guys? Does anybody have a better answer?