Last semester, I took a class that required students to write their autobiography. While different sections had varying lengths of the paper, my section in particular required me to write my autobiography in 4-6 pages. What I found most intimidating was the direction in which to take my paper and how in the world was I supposed to fit my whole life in 6 pages. After reading the prompt a couple dozen times, I concluded that it would be best to explain how my family, values, and environment helped shape my interests in travel, physical therapy, and running. As soon as I created an outline for my autobiography, I locked myself in my room and got started. In no time, I completed my paper (with multiple edits made, of course), submitted it my professor, and prayed for the best. About two weeks later, we each had to meet one-on-one with the professor to talk about the assignment. I’ll admit that I was a little nervous waiting for the meeting, questions like ‘did I do the assignment correctly?’ and ‘did I focus on one topic too much?’ ran through my mind. After exchanging pleasantries, my professor praised the organization and flow of my biography. She was so inspired by my paper that she was compelled to write the first stanza of the poem Auguries of Innocence by William Blake on my paper (This can be found on my home page 🙂 ). The only question she had about my paper was why I didn’t go more into depth about being Filipino American. This question took me by surprise because it wasn’t something I really thought about whilst writing my paper. I literally started the second paragraph of my paper with the sentence “I am a first generation Filipino-American and first generation college student.” My professor’s question didn’t count against me (I earned an A on the paper) but it stayed in the back of my mind as the semester went on.
The question of ‘What does it mean to be a Filipino American?’ is so profound that I have come to the conclusion that there is so much about the Filipino American experience and identity, it can’t be muddled down to one six page paper. In fact, there are various published books about this topic written from different approaches by authors of diverse backgrounds. I am inspired to answer this question by starting a series that encompasses my perspective of being a Filipino American, these snippets will be known as my Brown Gal Chronicles. In doing this, I hope to start a dialogue about a part of the Asian American experience that is so often overlooked. It would be the greatest gift to inspire others to start writing and sharing their own experiences. It is not my intention to make this exclusive to Filipino culture, but to truthfully share my own opinions of my identity. While I understand that not all may not relate to my posts, respect and kindness will be appreciated!
Until next time!
Image from own archives (Bohol, 2010)