(triggered by eating some of my Mom's cooking today - Dad brought it up from home last week when he came.)

My family is from the Philippines. You can probably tell by looking at some of my comfort foods:

  • Lumpia - shredded vegetables and crushed sugared peanuts in a wrapper
  • Lugaw with century egg
  • Champorado (sticky rice boiled with dark chocolate)
  • Macaroni and cheese

Ok, the last one is just because Velveeta boxes were the only hot food I could cook by myself as a small child. This was before instant noodles hit our local supermarket. Then there's also my mom's stories of how I used so many Tagalog words that I thought they were English - "What's the Filipino word for basura? (garbage can)" I once asked her.

The Philippines is my borrowed country, if there is such a thing. I'm not culturally or genetically Filipino. I can't speak the language. I've never held my legal residence there, although it's the "foreign" country I've spent the most time in by probably an order of magnitude since we have so much family in Manila. I'm American; we come from the Philippines, and we're Chinese. You'd think the two end points would carry more weight than the middle place we just happened to swing by in passing.

It's left its mark, though. The foods I like, the accent I adopt when I'm frustrated (when my parents get mad, they pick up a thick Tagalog accent; when I get mad, I pick up a slight one), the weather I prefer, the exposure to a culture of a third-world country wholly unlike my own. The religion I was raised in. The expressions I still occasionally use (when I'm building circuits you'll hear me mutter "Ay nako, baliktad" which roughly means "You idiot, you plugged it in backwards.") A strong respect for those who do domestic work - pretty much all households in the middle-class and above have maids, and our relatives in Manila are no exception (I still feel really weird having someone else cooking and cleaning for me, though). A healthy appreciation for clean water, good public schooling, and a relatively corruption-free political system. A taste for sweet spaghetti. Another continent that I can in some way call home, if I want to.

My grandparents were born in China and moved to the Philippines. My parents were born in the Philippines and moved to America. I was born in America and... well, we'll see where I go.