Arpana Kansal

English 165

December 14, 2005

Final Essay 4




Third Generation Filipino


            “Cultural identity is a matter of “becoming” as well as of “being.” It belongs to the future as much as to the past. It is not something which already exists, transcending place, time, history and culture. Cultural identities come from somewhere, have histories. But, like everything which is historical, they undergo constant transformation.” (Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora”) Balancing between two different cultures is very challenging and my interview focused on this issue the most. My interviewee Analise Suguitan, a third generation Filipino, grew up trying to balance two cultures her Filipino roots and her American side. Her place in Filipino history would have to be with every second or third generation Filipino that has migrated to United States. Like all third generation Filipino children Analise had to find her place in society and more importantly herself. Much of her self-exploration happened in her college years during the 1970’s. The history of Filipinos is vast my interviewee is just one of the many who contribute to its continuation, the part of Filipino history that she is associated with is the second and third immigration population in America. 

What I know about this time in Filipino history in America is very limited. However after reading Home Bound by Yen Le Espiritu, I discovered much about generally all Filipino immigrant culture. From Home Bound I learned about the early Filipino developments in Los Angels in chapter five, and about the “transnational community” in chapter one. After finding out more about the Filipino experience I actually could relate a lot with Analise and most all second or third generation immigrant children because I also had to balance between my Indian

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and American cultures. Although I had my own personal experiences, I had no first hand prior knowledge of the Filipino experience in America. I had never really thought about what it was like for a third generation Filipino child in America. During my interview I expected to learn more about Filipino values and about another culture that up until my 165 English class almost completely alien to me.

To educate myself so that I wouldn’t feel so unfamiliar with Filipino culture my research was all mainly done through people. My Kababayan class helped me a great deal with finding a basis for my questions. I made questions that seemed to be the most relevant to a third generation Filipino individual. The questions I asked in my interview were about the interviewees’ life as a Filipino and as a writer. I made my appointment for my interview through email making sure I read up on my interviewees’ life. I had my mother give me a lift to my interviewee, Analises house. Once there I quickly became immersed in Analises life, I found interaction with her to be easy, she was very accommodating and open with talking about herself. Analise gave thorough answers to each of my questions. I found our interview to be very informative about first hand experiences through the eyes of a Filipino American.

Most of the historical events that my interviewees’ answers revolved around were probably the outcome of many second and third immigrant children. She was a part of a generation that was described in detail in chapter eight of Home Bound.  Analise, represents many second and third generation Filipinos that discovered their roots and began to realize whom they really are. This is an important part of Filipino history for it is the defining moment for all mostly culturally confused children to find themselves. Many third generation Filipinos


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have probably felt this awkwardness. This monumental time is perhaps where all Filipinos begin to come into their own.

The “American Dream” is perhaps a very common reason for all immigrants to migrate to the United States. The “American Dream” is the ideal life many people around the world come to America to pursue. This dream is a state where everything is perfect there is money, a nice house, and general happiness, a paradise of sorts. A theme that is very important to just about everyone that comes to America.

The, “American Dream”, was a theme in my interview. I asked my interviewee what she thought about the American Dream and she replied that she believed it didn’t exist. The “American Dream” could be applied to her, because her grand parents must have arrived here in America with hopes of achieving it. Even though my interviewee does not believe in the “American Dream”, I’m sure that was what her parents had wanted. Because her parents she told me, raised her to be “white”. They probably raised her “white” to fit into the “American Dream”. The “American Dream” or something like it was a common reason most Filipinos immigrated to the US. In this way my interviewee fits into this part of Filipino history.

The melting pot was also discussed alongside with the American Dream. The melting pot is a theory that all cultures that come to America meld together to become one. In a melting pot each culture begins to adjust and change so that it is better suited with the other cultures. Diversity is no longer an issue because all ethnicities have changed so that there is no difference. In America this maybe the case, many cultures such as the Filipino culture begin to change and lose its luster in the glare the red, white and blue.


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My interviewee brought up the topic of the melting pot. She felt that her parents were trying to meld into that pot of uniformity. Her parents try to raise her “white”, slowly but subtly mixing her into the melting pot. The melting pot is very prevalent in Filipino history. It is a common thing to want to fit in, so it is only natural that some people conform and become apart of white America. My interviewee also admitted to trying to fit in, while not really talking about her Filipino heritage until she reached college. In college she was confronted by who she was. She did many things to not become a part of the melting pot. She learned her native language from her grand parents and began to take an interest in her community. Analise even began to write books that were almost a reflection of her own life as a Filipino. The melting pot played a crucial role in her life as a Filipino, as it does in many other Filipinos in America.

The “American Dream” and the melting pot are both connected to each other as they are in every immigrant’s fate. They are the incentive for Filipinos and many others to travel the distance and leave behind their homes. However the opposite of these would be the “salad theory”, which my interviewee also discussed. The salad theory is a theory that instead of melting all cultures together creates balance for them to coexist. In the salad theory all cultures are given space yet are close in a way that isn’t threatening similar to a salad, where all the vegetables lye together without being crushed by one another.

This theory is very much connected to my interviewee for her life is about coexisting with different cultures peacefully. At a young age she lost her mother, her father soon remarried to a white woman, it never really bothered her. Her current family is mixed with different

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cultures and they coexist together without problems. The salad theory was always there in her life sometimes it didn’t always happen that way however she has always maintained the theory.

After the interview and reading through all my books about Filipino culture. I have come to the conclusion that I can very much relate to the Filipino experience. The Filipino experience is all about finding your true identity in life. Finding a balance between who you are and where you came from. Being yourself and Filipino at the same time coexisting like a salad. Through the many book I have read I found that Home Bound by Yen Le Espiritu is a very connected to my interview. My research has only gotten me so far in this project, it is the first had experience I attained from people around that really helped. I believe just sitting in my 165 class and listening to everyone’s varying opinions on what the Filipino experience is helped me come to my conclusions more than the books did. I have learned a lot about distinguishing between loving your culture and just tolerating it. I believe that my research has helped me view my own culture differently. I can see a bridge between Filipino culture and my culture, I feel more connected with everyone else. The Filipino experience to me is a long winding road that leads to one thing balance.  



Works Cited List


Suguitan, Analise. Personal Interview. 27 Oct. 2005. 


Espiritu, Yen Le. Home Bound London England: the Regents of the University of California, 2003 


Hall, Stewart. 1990. “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.”

In Identity, Community, Culture Difference, edited by Jonathon Rutherford, London: Lawrence and Wishart.