What does it mean to be Filipino American?
This is the question I ask myself. And something I’m still learning. Growing up I never really thought about it. All I knew is that I was different. As you know children are blunt. They say mean things or have ideas that they possibly learned from their parents. Like the kid who would make fun of my eyes or made fun of me for being Chinese. I remember being so mad saying “ I’m not Chinese, I’m Filipino!”. Even though I was six at the time it bothered me being misidentified. Back in the 90s it seemed that anyone that was Asian was Chinese. Or if you spoke broken English you were called a “FOB” which stands for fresh off the boat. I was born in LA so that’s not exactly my story but I remember being embarrassed by other Filipinos that had an accent. I wish someone would have told me. “Hey, this kid is from a new country and is still learning English. Isn’t that great they are learning a new language ?” Then I feel like as a little person I’d say “Heck yes, that’s really great and offer help with my 2nd grade reading skills. I’m thankful that finally now in 2021 Asian stories are being written. Yet, somehow I still don’t see many South East Asians. Where are all the Filipinos? Where are the brown Asians? I don’t want another little kid to be like me at the age of 9 using whitening soap.
For my series I want to photograph next generation Filipinos. Whether they identify as Filipino/a/x. October is Filipino American History Month and I want to show the world the next Filipino Americans. I want to put a spotlight on first generation Filipino Americans. I want to photograph the essence of Filipino beauty. I want a young Filipino to see these photos and be proud to be Filipino. The Barong was declared the national attire in 1975 by President Ferdinand Marcos. Even though the Barong was evolved when the Spaniards colonized the Philippines. Filipinos took it back and made it their own. There is so much I’m learning through this project. And I would love to photograph different outfits and photograph more South East Asians in the future. This is an on-going series I will be working on in 2021 throughout 2022.