October is Filipino American History Month. This subject is unique for each person. And this is where my FAHM story began.
Growing up in America is a privilege. When my mother made the decision to give birth to me in America, she gave me an opportunity that most people didn’t get. She sacrificed a lot to get me here and it took a long time to sponsor her so she could also become a citizen decades later.
After I was born, we moved back to the Philippines for a while to collect items and get our lives in boxes. I was way too young to realize what was going on. But after a few years of additional saving and getting everything ready, my family uprooted everything and moved to sunny Los Angeles California. Specifically, the valley of Los Angeles where movie studios film pretty much everything but make the audiences of middle America think we all live by the beach.
I remember moving away from “the big house” my grandma used to live at (it really was a big house; used to entertain all the parties my aunts, uncles, and cousins) and them crying. It didn’t hit me that we were moving back to America.
It didn’t hit me when we were on the plane.
It didn’t hit me when I landed in LAX.
It didn’t hit me when my uncle came to pick us up at the arrival terminal.
It didn’t hit me that I wouldn’t see my grandmother for 10 more years.
It didn’t hit me that I was actually born a US Citizen but the home I knew wasn’t mine.
It hit me when we arrived at a house in a cul de sac in Northridge where we would be staying with my aunt and uncle. When we sat down with my older cousins Nicole and Paula; as my parents started to move some things in to a room. I realized everything I owned was in a box. The gravity of the situation hit me when I was sitting with my older sister and two older cousins as we were eating Rocky Road Ice Cream.
Let me break this down, food in the Filipino community is an experience. Coming into any Filipino person’s house you’ll be offered food even if you’ve just been fed. The recipes from any restaurant owned by a Filipino will be handed down by their parents/grandparents, and when you eat there with your family, your mom will say “I can make this better at home.”
So when I was sitting there as a child, trying to figure out what a big change in life meant. I was trying to eat Rocky Road ice cream. I started to miss my grandma at that instant. I didn’t like the nuts because they hurt my teeth. So my mom put my extra ice cream in my sisters bowl and she fed be the marshmallows in her bowl to make me feel better. As I stood at the table; barely tall enough to see the top, I remember thinking “these marshmallows taste weird.” Then I realized I was crying and the salt of the tears mixed with the sugary sweet of marshmallows. The flavors mixed but I was too shy to say anything in this new environment that I was in.
To this day, I remember all the feelings that rocky road bring up and the start of my families beginnings in America. My family had its own rocky road to citizenship, finding our place here, and also beginning this new line of clothing.
But I still don’t buy rocky road ice cream when I’m at the grocery store.