Half Filipino but raised in typical American culture, the only thing I knew about Filipinos were loud parties at my relative’s house where singing bad karaoke was just as important as the overflowing pot of white rice. The Philippines was that mysterious country from whence uncles and aunties occasionally sent us ambitiously-taped boxes stuffed full of florescent souvenir t-shirts, banana chips, and weird milk candies.
What did it mean to be “Filipino American?” I couldn’t fully answer that question. I didn’t know where to even begin a search like that.
And then one day I decided to apply for Peace Corps.
“After an in-depth 60-page application, two essays, an interview, months of medical tests, doctors signatures, and several pestering phone calls to the Peace Corps office, I finally received an official letter in the mail.
“Congratulations,” it began. You have been selected to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines.” The Philippines?! How I fell on my bed in an ecstatic dreamy state with a calmness that could only be attributed to shock and awe. My quest of self-identity had arrived at my front door, literally, in the form of a thick government issued envelope.”
From the moment of stepping off the plane on an unbearably hot, humid night in a foreign land, I began a journey of self-discovery, a search for self-identity, and a life full of unimaginable experiences, agonizing challenges, and unforgettable moments. My book recounts those experiences as a way to make sense of my service and understand more fully who I am and where I’m heading now.
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