Labels are interchangeable. Identity is not. We can evolve and grow but the skeleton of ourselves remain.
I was always ready to exclaim how proud I am to be Filipino but my actions differed. My voice was strong but my tail always remained tucked in between my legs, afraid and cowering. ‘Bi-racial’ was never a term I used to describe myself until recently. In England, every time I was asked where I am from or for my ethnicity. I quickly replied, ‘Philippines’ or ‘I am Filipino.’ But this wasn’t to show pride it was because of my fear of people not accepting my answer as English so before they could do it; I done it to myself. Maybe, going back to Philippines I could feel more like myself but there was an issue of not being able to speak the language and still feeling like a foreigner. So, who was I? I felt more English in the Philippines and more Filipino in England.
I struggled with what to call myself, going from different labels: Filipino; Mixed-race; Mestiza; White-Asian; Half-English, Half-Filipino; British-Asian; to right now as ‘Filipino-English.’ But none felt satisfying. None feel satisfying.
For years, I labelled myself how others saw me. Especially ‘half’ but now the term leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I don’t want to be referred to as half of anything. People misunderstand and think that fractions is what counts to the percentage of your ethnicity. That half and half make you whole but all it left me with was the ghost of who people thought I was supposed to be. It implies I can only be 50% English and 50% Filipino but that’s not true. I am 100% Filipino and 100% English. A concept some won’t understand and foolishly try to quickly correct my math but fractions don’t make up a person, and they aren’t representative to who I am. I can be both whole heartedly. But there will always be some unwilling to accept how I self-identify, eager to disagree.
Salamat and Adiyos!
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