Celebrating Filipino Americans

by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan

October is a truly special month.

It is special not just because it’s my birth month, but because Filipino American History Month is commemorated during this time.

According to the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), The celebration of Filipino American History Month in October commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the continental United States, which occurred on October 18, 1587, when “Luzones Indios” came ashore from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Esperanza and landed at what is now Morro Bay, California.

Four centuries later, in June 2002, my mother followed the path of these Filipinos and set foot on one of the most powerful nations in the world and fulfilled her dream, what many call the American Dream. And she became one of them, a Filipino American. Filipino Americans are the second-largest Asian American group in the nation and the third-largest ethnic group in California, after Latinas/os and African Americans, according to FAHNS.

According to the latest report, there are more than four million Filipino Americans in the United States with large communities in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Florida, Texas and New York.

My mother, along with millions of Filipinos, has called America home. It is where they found (and continue to find) better chances for their families back home. America has become a place of refuge and escape from poverty and the lack of opportunities in the country that is supposed to take care of them.

My mother stepping foot on American soil and eventually becoming a Filipino American is a bittersweet reality for me and my family.

It has been a tremendous blessing to us because it has immensely helped provide for our education and our everyday needs, but it also created the crack that eventually broke our family.

America must have offered many good things to her, so she decided to stay.

But looking at the life that we live now, despite the pain that the decision my mother made has inflicted on her children, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity that America has given her.

She may have served a different family and raised other children who are not her own, I know from the bottom of my heart that she did what she thought was best for her own family and her beloved children.

It broke my heart, but never did I nurse any bitterness towards my mother who laid down her life for us. Instead of blaming, I only give her gratitude.

It was because of love that she chose to stay. We lead comfortable lives because she gave up comfort. I praise God for my mother every day. And if she’s happy to be an American, we rejoice with her. This is the story of my mother, just one of the millions of stories of Filipino Americans just waiting to be told and are worth telling.

Some are stories of victory and happy endings, some of pain and sad endings. But all are stories of struggle to find their place in a nation where they are different and where their color and race are considered inferior.

All are stories about finding hope for families to have better lives.

The Filipino Americans making a mark and an impact in America is an understatement. Their contributions to the many aspects of American society cannot be described and measured.

I am proud of my mother. I am proud of the many Filipino Americans working hard to provide for their families back home and bless the nation they now call home. To all the Filipino Americans, we celebrate you. Thank you for all your sacrifices. Thank you for the blessing that you are, to the Philippines and America. Mabuhay kayo!

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