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hapa313Aloha! 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.

hapa313-2My 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!

3 thoughts on “Korean, Filipino, English…

  1. I hear you…biracial middle eastern girl being raised by white people here :)

    So, just remember that you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. If people have issues with the way you look, that’s not your problem. You are a beautiful, amazing, culturally diverse child of God

    My best friend Kira was going through something similar to us for a while. She is part black (a little less than one quarter, and she’s absolutely gorgeous because of it), and she has brown hair and hazel eyes, so people don’t really see her as black even though that’s how she identifies, and then they get annoyed when she “acts white”, like they call her an oreo and a “little white b***h.” So finally she just was like to heck with it and just said ‘a person’ when people asked her what she was. It’s totally boss and so much fun to see people’s confusion when she does it. We even joke around about how even though we’re both multiracial, we’re total crackers. :)

    Just wanted to offer some encouragement. Stay strong, Bernadette, and don’t let other people’s judgements get you down!

  2. Hey! I grew up on the Big Island too! I have family on both sides all over the country and I know what it is like to be entirely immersed in a community that is all white or very white and feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. It’s hard when people question your biological ties purely based on what you look like. But I think it is also wonderful too because you learn what makes a family isn’t what is on the outside but the love on the inside. :)

    https://hapavoice.com/2012/03/01/korean-white/

    • Thanks for your comment! Yes at some points being hapa may seem “difficult” but like you said it whats on the inside that matters. Im glad that i found someone that can relate because even though Hawaii is a diverse place alot of my friends have never expirienced bein out of the islands and never seen how places other than Hawaii can be. Also I hope you have a healthy child!! (/^.^)/

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