There is a huge difference between the Fil-Ams who grew up in America and the ones that grew up in the Philippines. For the Fil-Ams who live in America, the Filipinos around them most likely encouraged them to get to know their culture more. The media here always blows it up when a Filipino comes back to the homeland; they must be applauded since they experienced an identity crisis and decided to fix that. For us Fil-Ams who live in the Philippines, it's somewhat the opposite.
I'm not saying that Fil-Ams who live in America are better off than those who live in the Philippines; I could just imagine getting made fun of for their baon or their parents' possible mispronunciations. I'd just like to say that they aren't the only ones who experience an identity crisis.
Of course, I had to choose the American one. People always expect me to choose the American citizenship over the Filipino one. They would ask me if I'd return to the state I was born in, work there, marry an American, etc. When I would answer that I just want to study there for a while and then return to the Philippines, they would click their tongues and say "sayang naman".
It isn't fair. It isn't fair how I was predestined to give up a part of who I am. We later learned that I didn't have to do such thing but it was already too late. Even though I live in the Philippines, I still feel so disconnected with the culture. It's so difficult to learn the Filipino language when you were conditioned all your life that English was better and easier to speak in. Instead of just letting culture be experienced, I have to dig deep and find it myself. It might be because wanting to learn the Filipino culture is counter-culture here; pop culture is Western culture and I've been immersed in it my whole life.
And yet, I still don't feel American enough to call myself one. I've only been to America once and I didn't even get to go to the area where I was born in and where I lived my first few months on Earth. I haven't read any of the great American contemporary novels. I haven't even watched Star Wars; but on the other hand, I haven't watched any installment of Shake, Rattle, and Roll either. I mix up the names of celebrities. I try my hardest to go to gigs and listen to local music but I haven't even started on any of Parokya ni Edgar or Eraserheads' albums. The only thing that I can boast about is that I know my Philippine history like the back of my hand.
I'm not American enough to be called American. I'm not Filipino enough to be called a Filipino as well. What the hell am I?