My father isn’t a writer or a storyteller, but his story deserves to be heard. This is my continous attempt to carry on his legacy.
Inspired by FANHS
While I was scrolling through my “Filipino American History Month” search, I came across a Filipino American Historical Society (FAHS) tweet asking, what’s your #FilipinoMilitaryStory? I immediately thought of my dad.
⇢ Related Links: FILAM FANGIRL
My Filipino-American Father
My dad was born in the Philippines and came to America before starting elementary school. He rarely remembers anything about the motherland, and was never taught how to speak our native Filipino dialects.
His parents — aka my grandparents — fed a family of seven with earnings from a small tailoring and jewelry shop in Honolulu. The family was not wealthy, but they all did what they could to survive and obtain the most basic necessities: food, water, shelter, and clothing. There was no such thing as healthcare, so getting hurt was not allowed; and education was not a first and foremost priority.
Early on, my father was known as the child that was too smart for his own good. He was that trouble-making teenager who breakdanced, backflipped off walls and roofs, and got into fights to survive while growing up in a low-income community. Meanwhile, he was also that kid who was an honors student in Calculus classes his freshman year of high school, who knew how easy math and science came to him, but was still unaware of where to apply it in his future.
He later met my mom in high school. Then, they got married, they had me (yay!), and he joined the military.
Why My Father Joined the Military
You see, when you live in Hawaii, there are only two ways off the island: (1) military or (2) higher education… and my dad wanted off the island so that his family could live a different life.
My dad joined the army. My younger sister was born. He was sent off to very far places like South Korea and Japan. We missed him. He finished his duty, and came home.
Going to the military was his only practical option. Considering how much he wanted to continue his education at a university, but could not pay for it… the military was the answer.
My Filipino-American father, who immigrated from the Philippines to Hawaii, served in the United States Army, and took full advantage of the military benefits to go to the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. The rest is history… and my story.
Living Out My Father’s Legacy
My father’s story is important because he is living, breathing proof that one person can make a world of difference if he or she is given the right opportunity, education, benefits, and support. His intelligence is beyond what most people can comprehend, but without the opportunity, education, and benefits provided by a multitude of factors such as the military, my mother’s support, the phenomenal mentorship from people who took him under their wing, and much more… he would not be where he is today.
I write and share my father’s story not just because it is a time to celebrate Filipino-American History Month, but also because there has been so much threat directed towards immigrants here in the United States. We have intelligent human beings living among us who were brought to the United States by their parents with hopes of giving their children a better life.
I’m not sure if this is solely a Filipino-culture thing, but a big part of my life is being an extension of my parents’ legacies. I’ve obtained many life lessons from my father, but my favorite life lesson is don’t be afraid to ask for more. Don’t be afraid to ask for better from the world. Don’t be afraid to ask for more positivity from the people around you. Don’t be afraid to want something because all you have to do is do it — just do it regardless of the obstacles you know you’ll face.
This is my Filipino Military Story.
one proud filam daughter,