Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Deconstructing "Interracial"...


So I'm in Vancouver visiting the cousins. We're at Pin Pin, the Filipino eatery, and everyone is snickering over the latest family joke as the row of Pinoys stare across the table at their White significant others, some of whom are daringly digging into the mystery meat, dinaguan. Being as unabashedly un-PC as we are, there is talk about accidentally "wiping-out the Filipino blood in our family" if the kids keep on dating and marrying Caucasians--an obvious pattern considering all four of us are in mixed-race relationships...


But besides some minor cultural barriers (ie. never referring to filipino elders by their first name--EVER--but instead using the universal Tita/Tito and Lola/Lolo--unless you want to risk a harsh slipper to the rear end; or accepting the fact that Filipinos will always eat fish with their hands since it's the most common sense way to pick out the bones), all of our boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives have embraced our colourful family dynamic, while our Pinoy relatives have lovingly welcomed the in-laws with open arms despite the obvious interracial-ness of our relationships.


Sadly, I know the issue would have been a lot more controversial just a generation ago...


When my aunt arrived in Canada over 40 years ago, she was only 22 years-old. Winnipeg's Health Science Centre was recruiting nurses from abroad to join their growing team and my auntie, straight out of Nursing School, was forturnate enough to be chosen for the program. She was elated. The hospital was acting as her official sponsor so Auntie would have no problem gaining her permanent residency, and the accelerated training program would allow her to receive her Canadian RN credentials in no time. When it was all said and done, she would become the first Filipina nurse--EVER--at the Health Science Centre.


Somewhere along the way, Auntie had started dating. A young and strapping army sergeant began courting her and soon after, they were married. And even though the couple were happy and successful with up-and-coming careers, there was an undercurrent of disconnect brewing on her side of the family.


Auntie's new husband was Black and not everyone was on-board with this mixed-race marriage.


And without getting into the specifics of this family drama, I will tell you that for awhile, things did get a little ugly. Hurtful words were spoken, spiteful letters were written, and at times, entire family bonds were lost on account of their interracial courtship. To think, all of this fuss began over two shades of brown....


But that was then and this is now.


Our family has come full-circle from those days. Family gatherings are now a halo-halo of our multicultural roots--boisterous conversations in English laced with the native Cebuano, a bunch of White guys getting schooled while attempting to take on the Titas and Lolas in a game of Pusoy, and a husband proudly serving-up his first dish of pancit palabok after his mother-in-law gave him her secret recipe...


3 comments:

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ZenDenizen said...

What an adorable photo. Glad you are all able to peacefully co-exist!

Joe said...

excellent post.

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