I am a proud member of the Filipino American community specifically in the North Bay. Living in Marin County, a predominantly white area with few Filipinos, has led me to focus even more on my culture and how important it is. My parents immigrated to the U.S. ten years before I was born and made it a point to raise my brother and I to be knowledgeable about Filipino customs that they hold dear. One of these was the tradition of Simbang Gabi: a week-long Christmas celebration. For the last ten years, I have been helping my family put on a Simbang Gabi celebration at our local church. It is a chance for other Filipino Americans in the area to come and celebrate a holiday tradition that reminds them of home.
Being a part of this Filipino American community has brought to light many issues with the treatment of certain minority groups specifically here in Marin and has forced me to take off the rose colored glasses I had been wearing for so long to view my home.
When I was younger, I didn't understand why I had to go to an evening mass five nights in a row in December. However, as I grew up, I understood how important it was, especially because it was a way to find and build a community for people who had come to this country without one. Also, understanding more about how much it meant to my parents to continue this tradition only made me more appreciative of this custom. Being a part of this Filipino American community has brought to light many issues with the treatment of certain minority groups specifically here in Marin and this has forced me to take off the rose colored glasses I had been wearing for so long to view my home. I am very proud to be a Filipino American and I want to devote my life to protecting other people’s rights to celebrate their own cultures and find a permanent home here in the States.