Aloha! My name is Bernadette Cagampang and I’m currently 15.
I was born and raised and currently live on the Big Island of Hawaii. Honestly, I don’t know too many details about my heritage because I’m only now starting to get interested in it. Before I was just Bernadette, but now I really want to know who I am and what makes me, me.
My father is half Korean half Filipino-Bisayan, meaning we are of Spanish decent. He was also born and raised in Hawaii. His mother was from Korea and his father from the Philippines who later migrated to Hawaii for a better life.
My mother is half English and a German/Irish/Native American mix. She was born and raised in Virginia and she has blonde hair, blue eyes, and a country accent. She moved to Hawaii in her 20s, met my father, and they fell in love and had me!
In Hawaii, almost everyone here is Hapa, literally. Hawaii is like a big melting pot of different cultures. Almost all my friends have some sort of Asian background while being Hawaiian and mixed like me. So growing up if you were only white then you would stand out because it wasn’t too common, you may even be made fun of here. You would be what we called haole meaning “white person” or “foreigner.”
I never really experienced standing out until I visited my grandparents in Virginia. Now keep in mind my grandparents from my mother’s side are white and the little girl they adopted is also white with blonde hair and freckles. So when I went and lived there with them for the summer I felt like I stood out too much.
All my grandparents’ friends didn’t believe I was their biological grandchild. Also people immediately assumed I was part Japanese and would ask me if I spoke Japanese, which I don’t. I also got a lot of weird looks when I would stroll around with my grandparents. I didn’t feel like I blended in until I finally found an Asian store in Virginia where I could buy rice.
But nonetheless I am proud to be Hapa. I feel like I can identify with all my ethnic backgrounds because that’s what makes me, me! If I ignored any parts of my background I would feel like I’m lying to myself and not embracing who I really am. So when people ask me what am I or how I identify myself I tell them exactly what I am with Hapa pride!