Whitewashed Mestiza: My Biracial Identity Crisis

Friday, April 30, 2021

"Why does it matter?" My mom asked. "You know English, that's all you need." 

Her tone indicated this was the end of the conversation, and I retreated back into silence. 

I am a 26 year-old biracial woman, and this "conversation" has been on repeat my whole life. Whenever I express interest in learning more about my Filipino heritage, this is the resistance I am met with. I thought perhaps it was unique to my home. But when the American system values whiteness over everything else, are we really surprised? My own mother was taught that her history was riddled with "paganism" and therefore dirty. Unchristian. Undesirable. Unnecessary. And in effect, worth forgetting. 

 I think this is part of the reason why I've always felt a barrier between myself and this half of me. It was never a priority to teach me anything but whiteness. And to a lot of the social circles that surround me, they wonder how that could be anything but a good thing. 

THIS is the bubble of thinking I was raised in. I was never taught how to understand the contradictory emotions I felt - instead, it was suppressed. Denied. Invalidated.

"Why does it matter?"

Every time we would visit the Philippines, I was a foreigner. But simultaneously, I was told this was my family and second home. Mom would slip back into her native tongue, have no patience to translate, and it became painfully obvious the burden I presented as the only non-Ilocano speaker. My cousins would attempt English around me but were often too shy or embarrassed to continue. I spent much of the time we were there in silence. Observing but never a part of things. I would cover up my frustration with smiles, because that's what I was always taught to do. I swallowed the hurt and anger to simmer in my belly for years, incapable of even knowing how to put into words what I was feeling. These periods of times in my life were spent as a foreigner learning how to love a culture that I was told was mine...but was given no tools of ownership over.

I felt like a fraud. 

When I took one of the trending DNA tests that had started circling around, I almost felt nervous. All my life I would tell mom: "I wish I looked more like you..." Because instead of looking like a petite, Filipino woman, I had always been large. Pale. Tall. Was I really even half Filipino? There were moments I felt like it wasn't true. That I would not only culturally be denied, but genetically as well.

When it came back to show I was indeed 50% Filipino & Austronesian (the indigenous seafaring people that become known as Igorots), I felt a wave of relief. And it was then I committed to teaching myself more of my heritage. Because obviously, no one else would do it otherwise.

Slowly, I am learning pieces of this side of me that still feels like a stranger. To confidently be able to say: "This matters to me," despite constantly being told it didn' is freeing. It's as if I am finally peeling back the yellow caution tape telling me to stay out. All the questions and feelings I was told to toss aside and disregard...that this didn't matter. That questioned why I cared or bothered. That invalidated any of my desire to even BE Filipino. 

Perhaps I am a living example of the result of colonization that has done it's job properly. Because that is what happens when whiteness has done it's job the way it was intended. It colonizes, keeps the best for itself, and throws the rest out with the garbage. 

But with a new awareness, I can choose to sift through what was deemed invaluable. Unnecessary. Undesirable. And with each piece I find, I will hold it up to the sun so that it will be seen once again. Because the truth is that it is unbearably precious. Valuable. Absolutely necessary. And beautiful too.

A Decade Later

Thursday, April 29, 2021


Sometimes I still can't believe I started blogging almost 10 years ago...

I was seventeen once? Insane. But there I am, posing awkwardly but sweetly in the thrifted outfits I put together and typing my heart out to the internet. Several romances unfolded here, and it makes me laugh out of both amusement and embarrassment to re-read it all. 

Ah, youth. 

But reading my diary-like entries, I begin to see why so many used to find their way to my blog and stay a while. It was cheerfully honest, with cringey moments bared for all to witness. It was charming. When I read my thoughts again, revisiting memories I'd set down to collect dust, I feel a twinge of...something...pulling on my heart. What is this?

10 years ago, I was just beginning my adult life, barely putting together my own thoughts and experiences from the world. Reading my sweet, genuine entries, I feel love for this girl. She is clueless but resilient. Enormously gullible but wise. Deeply indoctrinated but beginning to break free. 

And now here I am. Sitting in an apartment I share with a man I'm not married to, a believer in science and manifestation, a college dropout, half a tattoo sleeve...just scandal upon scandal! 

But enormously happy. 

I am everything younger me would be horrified to see herself become. It's funny what time can do to a person. And I wonder what I'll be like in the next 10 years. I don't know, but I'm excited to find out. 

In the decade since I first began on here, social media has changed so much. Reading those old entries reminded me of a simpler time on the internet, where metrics, engagement, and numbers didn't matter so much as the memory and actual act of sharing. I'd like to return to that. 

So here we go again. Let's see how long The Dragonfruit Diaries stays active this time. If you've been here from the beginning, thank you. This space has been filled with a lot of memories, and I'd like to keep adding to them.

xo, Linda

© the dragonfruit diaries • Theme by Maira G.