Musings of an immigrant mom on her hapa child.
An excerpt from the book “Missing Mangoes: For Filipinos and Those Who Love Us” (published Xlibris, 2004) by fellow Melting Pot Mom, Marceline Santos-Taylor
I’m told that my four-month old son is twice as big as an average Filipino baby. This doesn’t come as a surprise as he is half-Filipino, after all – my half. Add to that the fact that I am tall for a Filipina (5’8”) and my husband is 6’2”. Yes, my baby is Tisoy. My Caucasian husband proudly tells everyone that our son is a mestizo, Amerasian, a blend of us both. He has brown hair and brown eyes, a nice matangos (pointed) nose (like Daddy), dimples (like me) and a skin-tone that is between milky white and kayumanggi. We joke that when he is a teenager he will become a model or an artista (an actor) in the Philippines or if he is so inclined, a basketball player in the PBA( Philippine Professional Basketball Association). We are kidding when we say this of course, but you’ll never know. It isn’t unlikely to happen because Filipinos go crazy about anybody half-anything – half-American like Donita Rose, half-Japanese like Aiko Melendez, half-Italian like Assunta da Rossi – and the list goes on. Growing up morena (dark skinned) in Manila, I sometimes felt insecure because of this strange bias against brown skin in favor of lighter skin, wider eyes, and pointier noses. I won’t even try to analyze why this is so because I believe this goes way back in history – to the time of Insulares, Peninsulares and los Indios Bavos (Spanish colonial times. Note: The Philippines was a colony of Spain for 300 years).
People ask me if I will speak to my children in Filipino. Of course, I will – why, I’d teach them Ilocano ( a local dialect) if I could! I am blessed with a husband who embraces the East and has a willingness to learn all about Philippine culture. While we were dating he learned the expressions, “Hay Nako” and “Baduy” among others. And now he’s added more words to his vocabulary like “Ay mali,” “Sarap” “Busog” etc. This, he says, is so that the baby and I can’t talk behind his back when the time comes.
Our household is a blend of East and West. And so is our lifestyle. We eat rice and adobo as much as we eat steak and potatoes. As we raise our son, we will teach him both English and Filipino. We will teach him to speak his mind out (very American) and yet be polite and respect his elders (Say “Po” and “Opo”). We will teach him to be independent and yet (caring). We will teach him to love music and art and life. We will give him a strong spiritual foundation. We will raise him to be happy and complete. We will raise him not as half-Filipino or half-American or half-Anything, but as a WHOLE UNIQUE PERSON. We will strive for a balance of body, mind and spirit.
About the author: Marcelline Santos-Taylor a.k.a. Marcie Taylor, a fellow Melting Pot Mom, has since had another tisoy son since writing this article in 2001. She publishes a monthly ezine for parents called Suburban Mama is also a photographer specializing in contemporary children’s portraits. Marcelline lives in Huntington Beach with her husband Tim and her sons Jake and Milo.
About the book: “Missing Mangoes” is available from www.xlibris.com , amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com For more info, visit: www.missingmangoes.com
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