Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Celebrating Filipino American History Month: Reflecting On What Being Filipino Means To Me

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Last week, my mom randomly happened to mention in conversation that October is Filipino American History Month. This was news to me — since then, I’ve found myself unable to stop thinking about what that means. I’ve been fortunate to grow up in Los Angeles County where I’ve been surrounded by many other Filipinos, and yet at such a big school like UCLA it’s easy to feel far away from my heritage. 

I thought it was important, this month more than ever, to reflect on my identity as a half-Filipino woman and how my Filipino culture has shaped my experiences and the way I see the world. 

It felt fitting this month to examine the people and the experiences that have given me such great pride for where I come from. The strong ties I’ve developed to the Filipino side of my family are in large part thanks to my Lola (or grandma!) who seamlessly introduced me to their foods and customs. As a little girl, she sat and taught me how to count to ten in Tagalog, and still continues to bring pancit to every special occasion. Even at a young age, she made me feel connected to a country that was a whole ocean away.

Growing up biracial, I’ve always had a hard time defining how close I feel to any part of my heritage. It might not be apparent that I’m Filipino just by looking at my face, but it’s a piece of my identity that is deeply rooted within me. Recalling my history and the memories that have enriched my culture during special times like these has made it infinitely easier to be sure about who I am and the different pieces that define me.

Being able to meet so many diverse people from varying identities in college has only strengthened my connection to my own culture. Since coming to UCLA, I find myself lighting up whenever I see Filipino food served at the different dining halls and coffee shops on campus — and of course, I always have to sample them! Sending pictures of childhood foods makes it a lot easier to be far away from the family that first introduced me to them. 

I may be a little late to the party when it comes to celebrating Filipino American History Month, but it’s been living in my mind rent-free since I heard about it. Overall, I’m just grateful to be a part of such a rich culture that’s filled me with nothing but gratitude and appreciation for my loved ones. My Filipino heritage would be nothing without my mom or my Lola showing me the way.

I can only hope that a trip to the Philippines is in my future one day, so I can gain an even better understanding of the culture that has such a special place in my heart. Whether you’ve been celebrating all October long or you just found out its significance, hug your Filipino friends a little bit tighter this month — they deserve it. 

Kelly is a second-year Communications major at UCLA from Pasadena, California. During her free time, she can usually be found lost in a book, grabbing a coffee, or obsessing over the latest reality TV show.