Home

hapa383-2My name is Erika. I am half-Japanese and half-Filipina.

I have always been proud of being Japanese, but it took my moving almost 4,000 miles away from home to truly begin to embrace my Filipino heritage.

My former shame can be attributed to my upbringing in a pretty, but prejudiced place. This led to my self-identity being shaped by low-key racist micro-aggressions inflicted on Filipinos by other Asian groups. In my experience, too many “Do you eat dog?” jokes and frequent comments of my “tanner” skin color, received from mostly from local Japanese folks.

This negative, one-sided way of thinking about Filipino identity has even become internalized within its very own community. I, like many others, tried hard to distance myself from being associated with my Filipino ancestry, from using papaya soap to “naturally” bleach my skin to hiding behind my Japanese name. It felt good whenever I was mistaken for being full-Japanese.

hapa383-3

Age 1 with my grandmas



It wasn’t until I moved to Japan at 20 years old, and again living there in my late-20s, when I started to feel a real sense of worth and beauty in my Filipino heritage. An appreciation that could not have flourished within a framework of nasty stereotypes and stigams rooted in the plantation days but are still very much alive and perpetuated in Hawaiʻi’s contemporary psyche.

For the first time, I am celebrating Filipino-American heritage month this year by cooking kare-kare (also for the first time ever) and committing myself to learning more about my rich cultural heritage and what being Filipina-American means to me.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s