A Conversation on Cultural Preservation
As a Pilipinx* American, I have struggled to figure out how to balance my values and lifestyle with my culture. I want to be able to preserve the culture of my people, despite certain materialistic, conservative, and unknowingly toxic values they may hold. However, I am not extremely knowledgeable of my heritage, considering my background & relationship to Philippine culture.
For one, there are language barriers – I am American born and do not speak my own language fluently. My mother’s side is from Pampanga, therefore their dialect is Kapampangan. My father’s side resides in Laguna, so they speak Tagalog, which is more universally understood. I think often of the stories both sides of my family have told me about cultural preservation and legacies to be left behind. I also think of this alongside my current discovery and conservation of my values. Considering the life I want to live and provide for my family, I aspire to figure out that balance and bridge the barrier that exists when communicating my thoughts and feelings.
Being born in America, I also have a very Western way of living. Although I try to incorporate Asian mannerisms in the way I interact with others and approach my life, I can’t help but sometimes drift apart from pieces of myself that are inherently Pilipinx. I do my best though, and am actively teaching myself the language, sharing the culture with my friends and opening up slowly to my family.
I believe that this process of cultural preservation starts with conversation. Then it continues with practice. I cannot expect people to just understand and follow the reasoning for which I live my life, but I can show them the benefits of what it has done to improve my well being. Showing, not telling, can be quite effective in this case. But I also need to keep in mind how much more impactful it can be by telling/communicating in a language they can understand.
One of my greatest wishes is to have a conversation with my lolas on both my mom and father’s side. Their English is limited but they have always wanted to get to know me on a deeper level. If I could do that, I know I would be confident in passing down the language and culture to my children. It’s so important to me. And I’m sure if you’re on this page reading about my values, it’s probably important to you too.
I hope conversation and practice can do the same for you, the reader, as you embark on a similar journey of preserving your culture, encouraging conversation, and cultivating genuine interest for one another’s stories.
* I identify as Filipinx/Pilipinx in writing most of the time, but when speaking, I typically use Filipino/Filipina or Pinay, depending on the space I am in.
* The letter “F” was not in the Philippines native script (called Baybayin), so people in our community have chosen to decolonize ourselves by using “P” instead. However, F/P are interchangeable. – @thisisnotpilipinx
* Filipinx is a “Western understanding of gender,” so it is open for people to identify themselves however they decide (Filipino, Filipina, Filipinx) – @brownpapaya