My friend Janine was having an interesting discussion on her Facebook wall yesterday about a question that Charice’s manager asked on Twitter. It was a valid question, but her follow-up statements pissed quite a few of my fellow Filipinos off.
Now before I write anything else, I think I should clarify that I think Jessica Sanchez is a fabulously talented singer, but I haven’t really been following her career so I’m a little out of the loop. Last time I saw her, she was narrowly escaping the jaws of Jennifer Holliday at the American Idol finale.
I’m glad she survived.
But like everyone else on my islands, I do think of her as part-Filipino — even if, as Charice’s manager pointed, she doesn’t speak Filipino, never visited the Philippines, holds an American passport and blahblahblah.
She has Filipino blood, so she’s part Filipino. It’s that simple to us.
I understand that this concept of Filipinos claiming Filipinos (whether they’re willing to be claimed or not) is mystifying to foreigners, because you have to be Filipino to understand it.
Here’s the thing… The Philippines is made up of 7,107 islands and one big-ass network of extended families.
Allow me to illustrate.
When most people think of a family, this is what usually comes to mind:
When FILIPINOS imagine a family, THIS is what comes to mind:
Sorry, I didn’t have space to draw the neighbor’s kids, the daughter’s BFFs, and the guys who come by every night to have a drink with dad or the boys, but they’re part of the family too.
We like to adopt people. That’s our thing. Everyone’s welcome to join the fam. And I think that’s beautiful. In fact, I think it’s one of the best things about being Filipino.
I know this because I’ve been adopted into so many families, I can’t even count anymore. I have like 25 extra Moms. And I’ve been adopted by countless Filipinos abroad as well — even staff members in hotels, who barely knew me but decided to take care of me anyway.
Because we’re blood, baby. It’s awesome.
So I think it’s only natural that when a member of the big ol’ Filipino Mafia does well, we show our support and give a big ol’ collective family cheer.
We don’t particularly care if the family member in question is aware that he/she is actually part of the family. Pfft. Minor detail.
It’s not always rosy, of course. We also tend to make a big fuss and bicker and criticize and gossip among ourselves and talk about each other behind each others’ backs.
Just like regular families do.
And you know how it is with families… you can bitch about each other like crazy, but it’s a whole other thing when someone else pipes in….
That’s just the way it is.
And that, dear Charice’s manager, explains (1) why Filipinos claim Jessica Sanchez (and everyone else with even just a drop of Filipino blood), as well as (2) why you’ve pissed a lot of Filipinos off.
FAMILY. It’s what being Filipino is all about.
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