One week remains of the month of October, which means one week remains of Filipino American History Month. This month recognizes and acknowledges historical events, people, and experiences that have helped shape what Filipino America is today. It has also become one of the busiest months of the year for me, aside from May.
Filipino American History Month both acknowledges the accomplishments of those who came before us and those who are making their mark in the present day. Book lists, film recommendations, concerts and more are suddenly popping up and scheduled all over, all involving Filipino American voices.
It’s a lot to take in, as a part of me feels obligated to support everything and everyone who has an event lined up, to acknowledge the importance of what this month is all about. All too easily, I’m quick to feel drained by how many events there are to keep track of, and with that, a sense of guilt too.
Maybe that’s not the case with everyone, but that’s my particular case, and I think the reason for it comes in two folds:
One of them is rep sweats. A term originally coined by comedian Jenny Yang when the TV series, “Fresh Off the Boat,” premiered in 2015, it’s where whenever an opportunity arises where you get to see yourself on a platform infrequently unoccupied by your community, you feel an obligation to tune in, because this doesn’t happen super often. Despite there being improvement of Asian American visibility across all storytelling platforms since then, I feel that Filipino Americans in particular are still falling short of that. That’s why whenever something created by the community comes along, a part feels the impulse to support it, regardless of whether or not it contextually is of any personal interest to me.
The other fold is the ongoing process of learning about my community. As I’ve mentioned many times previously, although I am a mixed race Filipino American, I was brought up in a predominantly white household. It took seeking out the history on my own from adolescence and on, in order for me to come to terms and understand where my personal history and myself stand in all this. I know a lot more about myself as a Filipino American now than I did a decade ago, but I also know that I haven’t stopped learning. It’s going to be an ongoing process for the rest of my life. That’s another reason why I feel so obligated to attend to as many events happening as possible.
The impulse is constantly there, and it always will be, even when October ends. But I also know myself well enough to know that 1. I can’t attend to every single one on my radar when I have other priorities in my life that I need to focus on and 2. I’m still constantly trying to get work out there myself. As I touched on earlier this month, I’m changing tactics with how I approach my creative work, and I’m doing that. In fact, just earlier this week, I submitted my pilot to a writing fellowship that I’ve been wanting to apply to for the longest time.
I guess that by continuing to tackle my own dreams by continuing my work and taking on these opportunities, that in of itself is my own way of celebrating and acknowledging Filipino American History Month. There’s nothing showy about it, but work and progress is still being done, and that’s really all that matters. That, in of itself, is why we celebrate this month.
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