Taking a less formal approach on the community blog – I thought to wish you all a Happy Family Day (Ontario Statutory Holiday) and tell you about the first time I went to the Philippines and met my family, all five Titas, all 25+ cousins, and all extended family.

For those who don’t know, I’m Canadian born with both Filipino and Scottish backgrounds. My father came to Canada from Scotland in 1965 and my mother came to Canada in 1981, they met years later in Toronto on a blind date in Toronto and fell in love. To give you a little more context my Lolo and Lola migrated to Canada under “Family Care” in 1992 my Lola “hated the cold” and migrated back within a few years while my Lolo stayed, and  became a citizen before his death in 2006. He is buried in Canada.

There was a lot of pressure, both conscious and subconscious, surrounding my December 2008 visit. I was fearful about how I would be perceived, my appearance, my upbringing and my lack of language all contributed to my growing anxieties of the unknown.  I couldn’t do research on the area, demorgraphics (and shark attack stats) etc. My mom’s small village which boasts a healthy population of six people isn’t even available on Google Maps! I was never told a single story about where or how my mother grew up, there are no photographs, home movies or letters, I was only given snip-its memories in the form of passive comments before the conversation was change.

I thought that my family would tell me stories upon stories about my Lolo and help me gain insight into my mother’s upbringing and her relationship with her Mother. My mother is the middle of five sisters and the only one who moved to Canada, via London, as part of the Foreign Domestic Worker Program (before it was called the Live-In-Caregiver Program.) I saw my mother as a balikbayan and how that affected her relationship with each family member. I was being treated like an outsider by my mother and was frustrated with her while she was able to grieve with everyone since the passing of their patriarch. I wanted to grieve too. (hashtag family drama).

As a first-generation Canadian I feel ever more enriched knowing where (both) my parents come from. My discoveries, shape and inform the person that I am. I urge and encourage children of migrant parents to keep asking questions and let your parents tell stories about the home-land.

Years later, an another trip in 2010, my relationship with my family is wonderful but it was a turbulent time trying to seek history when the history was deemed irrelevant compared to the current family dynamics.

So, today I’m working from my parents home – my dad and I are trying to fend for ourselves in the kitchen while my mother is in the Philippines visiting. She  phoned last night to tell me that everything is “fine” and I gave her a gentile reminder that it’s family day to which she barked “What day? don’t buy me a card, save your money!”

Salamat! Thank you! To my all time favourite Santa Guerrilla for letting me use their song “Oh Woman” for the video. Please check out Alex Punzalan’s new song  and like them on Facebook “Pacific Blues Music