For the last couple of months I’ve been swimming around in thoughts about being “mixed” and how much my race does (or doesn’t) play into my sense of identity. I haven’t thought this hard or much about race and heritage and “What are you?” questions since high school. Unfortunately, I don’t have many more answers today than I did back then.
Then last Friday a typhoon hit the Philippines. Specifically, a typhoon hit my mom’s hometown. Where my grandmother lives. Where aunts, uncles, and cousins I haven’t seen since I was 15 (or have even met at all) live.
I couldn’t tell you where Ando Island or Eastern Samar or Borongan are on a map. But I could tell you that growing up there would be boxes filled with clothes we’d outgrown and candy and toiletries and who-knows-what-else sitting in our living room waiting to be sent. The boxes would have addresses with places like Ando Island, Eastern Samar, Borongan on them.
Today those places are international news. It’s surreal.
We haven’t heard from any family members officially (power is still out), but my mom is confident that her hometown is ok. So many of you were thinking of us and praying for us. Thank you so much, and praise God.
The circle on the far right is my mom’s hometown, and the circle in the bottom left is where so much of the sad news is coming from.
Honestly, I feel uncomfortable talking about this. I don’t “feel” Filipino. I don’t know the language or the customs. I had to Google not just where the typhoon was going, but where Eastern Samar was.
I don’t feel like it’s my devastation to mourn. But underneath all of my own personal confusion about “what I am”, my heart is breaking for the Philippines. I’m crying for children that were ripped from their parents’ arms. For families that can’t find their loved ones. For family here in the US waiting to hear that their mother/brother/sister/nephew/niece is ok.
I’m surprised at how much it hurts. Disaster stories don’t usually get me. I’ve never donated to relief funds. Katrina, Haiti, Japan, none of them.
But this one felt personal. So I did. Maybe you want to, too.
And because y’all know I can’t be too serious. That I have to smile in the middle of the proverbial/literal/figurative storm. That I’m pretty sure this specific part of my personality is very Filipino of me.
So let’s pretend that you don’t care about people dying and losing their entire world in mere hours. I know y’all care about some lumpia. Because white people love the lumpia.
Without Filipino people you don’t get lumpia. So why not give? #Doitforthelumpia
(I gave $25 dollars which I’m sharing as a reference point. You have no idea how far our money can go in countries like this one. Also, I tried to give through the Philippine Red Cross but they wanted to know the name of my village, so I’d suggest going through our Red Cross instead.)