Before migrating here to the US, I had certain ideologies and beliefs on the lives of Filipinos who moved to other countries. One of my former beliefs was once they exited the Philippines; their lives will be better and they’ll live happily ever after. But after living in the US for almost 3 years now, the truths I once held on to are nothing but myths, theories and mere generalizations.

So I am writing this blog to clarify and put into light, 5 common misconceptions that Filipinos back home have on Filipino Immigrants.

  1. “Marunong ka pa ba mag-Tagalog?” (Do you still know how to speak Tagalog?)

Filipinos equate an American accent with excellent English-speaking skills– but that shouldn’t be the case. Several factors determine a person’s competence in speaking English – grammar, content, flow of the conversation, to name a few.

Accents are not the end-all, be-all of English speaking – content, clarity, and connection with your listener are far more important.

Though accents can be learned, forgetting how to speak Tagalog is actually impossible, especially if you were not born and raised in the US. It also depends on a person’s preference & attitude towards the native tongue: I know a person who migrated to the US when he was 8 years old (he’s 19 now by the way) yet can still speak English and Tagalog very fluently (he has thick accents for both) and there’s this 22 year old girl who migrated when she was 15 years old and now rarely speaks Tagalog.

2.  “Mas okay sa US kasi mas malamig” (It’s better in the US because it’s colder there)

Okay, first of all, it’s not always cold here in the US – it actually depends on the state and the season a person is in.

For those of us living in California, different seasons mean different temperatures:

Winter – November to February; temperatures range from 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to 10 degrees Celsius)

Spring – March – May; temperatures range from 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 – 15 degrees C)

Then it becomes crazy hot on summer, which begins from June and ends late August, with temperatures ranging from 70 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 40 degrees C). Other states like Nevada/Arizona/Texas can even reach up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (or more)!

People might also say that it is “hotter” in the Philippines, and while this is true on most days, the heat in the Philippines is different from the heat here in the US. Again, this also depends which state one is in, and I can only speak for California. The Philippines has tropical heat (essentially, this heat makes you sweat) and the US has dry heat (this heat seeps through your skin and bones). My family, especially my athletic brother who loves being outdoors, became two shades darker ever since we moved here.

Secondly, colder is not always better. I have friends from Canada and the East Coast who told me their experience during the winter season. At first it was fun because they get to build a snowman, throw some snowballs, build miniature igloos, etc. However, as time passed by, everyday tasks became more tedious – they needed to turn on the heater, wear triple layers of clothing to keep them warm , shovel tons of snow out of their car, clear the snow out of their driveway and drive through icy roads JUST to get out of the house – and they do this every day!

P.S

I’m seriously missing the tropical weather! 😦

3.   “Mayaman na yan kasi dollars kinikita niyan eh.” (He’s rich because he earns in dollars!)

Earning money isn’t easy – no matter which state or country you work in. Yes, people here earn in dollars but also spend in dollars! Some Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) here work 2 jobs just to sustain themselves AND send money back home.

Work here isn’t easy as well (especially for us immigrants) – my first job was a sales clerk for a Department Store – I folded clothes for a living! But I didn’t complain, in fact, my experience humbled me and helped me learn the American culture faster. Some people have more strenuous jobs than I do – they chose to endure the lengthy hours of work in order to save up and bring some bacon back home to the motherland.

4.   “Kapag sa kapwa Pinoy ka lang sumasama, mas magiging madali buhay mo” (When you stick with fellow Filipinos, your life will be much easier)
This gets me very upset because some Filipinos would rather stick to their own kind instead of embracing America’s culture.

The secret beauty of America is its diversity – it is a melting pot of different races. But we Filipinos have somehow developed colonial mentality – a false belief that we are inferior compared to others races; we’d rather cave inside our own little shells rather than compete in the international scene.

To all my immigrant (and would-be immigrant) friends out there, the first thing you need to do when you start moving here in the US is to be open-minded – stop holding on to the things you got used to and let go of the habits you once had back home.

Embrace the culture, soak all the positive traits of America and combine it with our own. Being diverse is what makes America unique – don’t feel inferior!

5.   Nag-migrate yan kasi di na niya mahal ang Pilipinas. (He migrated because he doesn’t love the Philippines)

Before moving here, I had this misconception that Filipinos who migrated to the US are unpatriotic – they must have hated the Philippines so bad that they moved out of the country to live in “greener pastures”.

I don’t blame them for making that decision. Some Filipinos are just so fed up with all the things that are happening in the Philippines – the government, the pollution, the traffic, the speed of the wifi, etc. They just want to have a better life and grab any opportunity to raise their standard of living – and there’s nothing wrong with that!

For some, migrating to another country is the only option they have – there are thousands upon thousands of OFWs who unwillingly migrated to the US to work. They came here alone to work for someone they do not know and pursue degrading jobs they do not like; they are in constant battle with loneliness and depression but that doesn’t stop them from pursuing their goal which is to save up and give their families back home a better life.  I am 100% sure that a day never passed without them thinking of their dear country which cradles the family they departed.

Whether you’ve been in the US for 3 months or 30 years, as long as you are Filipino, you will always come back to your first love.

Their migration doesn’t mean they hate the Philippines; in fact, they do it out of love for the families they left behind and will always make it a point to come back to their beloved motherland.

 

We may find these misconceptions amusing but the truth is, living in another country isn’t always blissful; we too have our own set of problems and challenges we need to deal with and at the end of the day, we hope nothing but the best for our fellow Pinoys back home and exclaim with high regard:

“No matter where I am…I am always proud to be Filipino.”

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