If you’re living in a country where Filipinos are very much in the minority, it could be a comfort to have other Filipino friends. Many people might think that Filipino organizations are exclusionary, but they are actually a way of bringing together those of a shared background who often feel excluded themselves.
Not only does associating with other Filipinos help us retain our language and our culture, it also helps us stay strong in a country where we so often feel like outsiders. Having Filipino friends means that you are not alone, that there is always someone to whom you can speak in Tagalog, someone who will appreciate your favorite Filipino foods.
The comraderie found in Filipino friendships is not to be underestimated. It can be a lonely existence to live detached from the rest of the community, to never be around people who understand where we come from.
Maintaining a strong Filipino community in the United States is not just about establishing our identity as a culture. It is about providing us with a sense of belonging. It is about helping our children form friendships with children who will not tease them because they look different.
Many of us who grew up in this country know what it is like to be one of only a handful of Asians in our schools. Many of us have been the only Asian or minority, let alone the only Filipino in a classroom or an office. While such environments are not inherently oppressive, they can be isolating.
A thriving Filipino community helps to mitigate that isolation. Community centers and Filipino organizations and activities and, yes, newspapers, help to connect us. In this way, we have a group of fellow Filipinos to turn to. We have people to sing karaoke with, to eat adobo with, to speak Tagalog with. We have a piece of the Philippines where we can be ourselves.