Proud To Be Pinoy
Romelyn Tabangcura | Maui High SchoolDuring the month of October, Filipinos around the island come together at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center to celebrate their heritage with food, games, entertainment and its history. The annual Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® is celebrated to commemorate the addition of the many wonderful things Filipino Americans have added to the Hawaiian culture. In 1906, Filipinos arrived in Hawai‘i to work in the sugar cane plantations. And ever since, Filipino Americans continue to make remarkable achievements as they embark on their journey towards their goals.
Ghenesis Balaan describes Filipinos as people with passion, respect and grit. He believes the Filipino culture is unique because “We Filipinos are full of love for our family and of God. Family is number one in Filipino culture and I believe it is our love for our families that give us the strength to overcome any obstacles. With our faith rested on God, we are willing to take each experience of our lives to be it a failure and learn from it. We believe God has a plan for us and things always happen for a reason. So, if ever our lives go through turbulent times, we always stand tall, keep our head high and move forward.” With this said, Ghenesis believes celebrating Filipino Heritage month to be important because “it serves as a reminder for us of the hardships and obstacles our families had to go through in order to provide us a better living. Through celebrating our culture, we keep our home close and the spirit of the Philippines and its traditions alive.” Ghenesis has attended the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® before and this October, he will be attending once more as “It brings me great joy whenever my peers and I perform because this day is just filled with sharing knowledge of our bright and spirited culture.”
Like many others, sophomore Kristine Bonilla is proud to be Filipina. She said she is most proud of being a Filipina because “Filipinos are known to be hardworking and getting the job done on a timely basis. These values were cemented into my brain growing up. It is important to me to achieve my parents’ and my dreams and obtain a college degree. In addition, I am also proud of the impacts many Filipinos have done in this world. We all should strive to create positive and long-lasting impacts in our communities.” To Kristine, celebrating her heritage is important to her because “our Filipino heritage breathes life and meaning into our identities and allows for an awareness of self. It lays the foundation of our values, beliefs and customs and without it, we lose part of who we are. It not only allows us to use our culture as tools to create a difference in this world but also connect us to our ancestors who have played instrumental roles in our local and global community.” Kristine also celebrates her heritage on a daily basis as her family keeps a close relationship with God by attending mass every morning and praying daily to further deepen their relationship with God. As for Kristine, she has attended the annual Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® and her family strives to attend every year. She explains “This event creates such positive awareness about the Filipino culture and allows guests to lavish in Filipino foods, participate in traditional games and provides fun and exciting immersion activities for all ages. It almost makes one feel that they are back home under the Philippine sun, eating ice candy.”
Ricky Villegas believes celebrating his heritage is important as well. “My household celebrates my heritage by wearing traditional Filipino attire such as the Barong Tagalog and the Kimona to various Filipino events, preparing a celebration of food in which I and others can enjoy and performing Filipino gestures such as the mano po to bless elders,” says Ricky. With any celebration there always comes food. Some of Ricky’s favorite Filipino dishes are “vegetable lumpia, chicken adobo, and pancit. Growing up, I have watched family members make these delicious foods countless times and they share one common ingredient: heritage. The ingredients of these foods have shifted over time and each shift comes with a unique twist.” Ricky is proud to be Filipino, not only because of the amazing and tasty Filipino dishes out there. He explains he is “most proud of our patriotism and the love for our culture and country. When I see random Filipinos around town, I find it fascinating that complete strangers can bond automatically because of their share of traditions, culture and nationality. And of course, I am most proud of our ability to sing!”
Raymond Tomayo, a freshman at Maui High School is proud to be Filipino as he states “It’s a huge part of me and my entire life basically. I would feel like nothing if I didn’t have Filipino running in my blood.” Although Raymond has not attended the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival®, he is fascinated because “Through this festival, I think we’re able to know more about our cultural identity and the cultural identity of other people.” To celebrate his heritage, Raymond and his family keeps family traditions alive. “My family and I like to make noodles to represent longevity and make sticky foods so that my family can continue to be close throughout the years.” Raymond believes the Filipino culture is truly unique because “it’s very diverse. There are so many languages in the Philippines ranging from the North Islands to the South. I’m truly very proud of how rich in history culture Philippines is.” With that being said, Raymond plans to attend this upcoming Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® to further celebrate the amazing things Filipinos are capable of.
Students all over Maui are proud of their heritage. By celebrating with food, traditional clothing items and most importantly with friends and family, they are able to deepen their love for who they really are. Filipino Americans continue to do remarkable things every day and Filipino American History Month truly embraces the amazing things Filipinos and Filipinas have accomplished thus far. The Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® is a great way for non-Filipinos to learn more about Filipino history and learn and experience true Filipino culture. I guess you can say that Filipinos are truly proud to be Pinoy.
Google® Is Not Everything … is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes that education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Romelyn Joy Tabangcura, a senior at Maui High School. She is the current president of Maui High HOSA-Future Health Professionals and has competed in the Human Growth and Development and placed top 10 at the International Leadership Conference. She is also a member of the National Honor Society, a prestigious organization with students who show scholarship, leadership, service and character. She aspires to be a Nurse Practitioner one day. She is the daughter of Romeo and Roselyn Tabangcura.