I was introduced to my pal Gregory a few years ago by a common friend. He had a web site, too, and I loved reading it. He wrote about working at a dotcom at the height of its success. He wrote about living on his own in a thriving metropolis. He wrote about art and film and indie rock. What really drew me to his writing, though, was his writing about being an Asian American.
He talked honestly and openly about what it was like to be an Asian born and raised in America. He admitted that he sometimes didn’t feel like he belonged here but he also didn’t think he belonged there, there in the Philippines, a country his parents left 32 years ago, a country he had never even seen.
But I think that might be changing. For his 30th birthday, Gregory got a passport and leapt halfway across the world to the place that his parents still call “home.” He is seeing the places where his parents grew up, meeting family he never knew he had, digging deep into the country’s history, his history, and discovering that maybe he’s more Filipino than he knew. And, thank goodness, he’s writing it all down while it happens.
“Seeing all this family, seeing all these faces that looked like mine and the joy that brought to my parents, it’s the greatest thing ever.”
Although I was born in the Philippines, I can relate to so much of what he writes. That shock of seeing all these people who look just like you. That warmth of being in a room of extended family. That comfort of finally feeling connected and having roots. That gratitude for having all of that in addition to the life you have built for yourself back in the U.S. Back home.