hapa309Hi there! My name is Sarah. I’m a 22-year-old, born-and-raised Chicagoan.

I am Italian, Polish, Filipino, and Japanese (a quarter of each). I’ve never met anyone with the same background and I’m very proud of my unique Hapa heritage!

My siblings and I have grown up with much influence from my Italian mother. Her cooking, holiday traditions, and habit of blasting Italian music on Sunday mornings while cleaning, in combination with my father’s very Americanized ways, often made me question my identity.

My father’s mother was born on the Big Island and my grandfather was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Hawai’i in his twenties. It’s funny because they both still carry their accents even though they’ve been living in Chicago for over 50 years. Yes they act pretty “fresh off the boat,” but for some reason I rarely got to hear their stories of living in Hawai’i and the Philippines.

When I was 18, I took a trip with my aunt to Hawai’i to visit with my father’s side of the family. While I was there I truly began to embrace my Asian heritage. I finally got to learn the traditions and enjoy some pretty amazing food during my three-week stay. Having fried rice for breakfast every morning was the best, yum! Family members told me stories about my grandparents in their younger years, and it really made me appreciate their fight to succeed while trying to fit into a different way of life.

Looking back, I tried not to think too much about my “multiracialness” because I always felt like I had to choose a side. Am I European or am I Asian? But I realized that I don’t need to choose, I am who I am. I now understand and embrace both sides of my heritage. I am so happy to be different than others and so happy to see a site that acknowledges the uniqueness of the Hapa community.

3 thoughts on “Italian, Filipino…

  1. Hi Sarah!
    I loved your story :) my grandmother is also from the Big Island, in a small town called Pi’ihonua in Hilo. My grandma graduated from Hilo High class of 1950!!! Loooong time ago. Anyway, it’s interesting reading everyone’s experiences growing up. Well take care:)
    Lorena (La La) Maria Jitsuko Ruiz

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