Hora

“Anong oras na?”

Daddy Rudolfo asked me, with his gap toothed grin and kind eyes. I saluted him (this was our inside joke, every time I saw him I would salute). I looked at my right wrist to see my watch.

“A las nueve, po.” (The “po” I added clumsily to be more respectful. I don’t use it often.)

“Oh!” He said laughing, “You must be uh-” he paused to find the word in English. I usually didn’t understand what he said. I only speak English and only understand some Tagalog, but Daddy Dolfo mainly speaks Visayan (or at least I think that’s the dialect he speaks).

“You must be rich!” He finally said.

“Me? No!” I said smiling.

“No? You’re rich, because you speak Spanish!”

And then it hit me, before English became the language of power in the Philippines, it was Spanish. I began to think of my ancestry. Do I even count as a mestiza? My last name attests to the fact that I may come from some. However, I think of myself to be pure Filipino, with the flat nose to prove it — even though I constantly get told that I look more Chinese. I know I am a juxtaposition of the history of the Philippines, like how most (if not all) Filipinos are: Asian face, Spanish name, tan skin, English speaking.

I am American though, not Filipino. The language is lost to me. The attitude is totally different. I don’t understand and can’t read what people are thinking when I am there. There is a duality: in the Philippines, I am American; in America, I am Filipino. And without a doubt, over time my future children will be even more mixed than I am, perhaps even more lost.

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