kiwipino

# 20 Growing up Asian...

I am a South-East Asian woman, Filipino to be exact. My family moved from the Philippines to New Zealand when I was eight, and have lived here since. I consider myself a Kiwi-pino, a milkshake of blended cultures, typical of 1.5 generation migrants (children of migrant parents, and were born overseas). English is my first language, with Maori and my native tongue, Tagalog an equal second. I have long since given up my Philippine citizenship, pledging my allegiance to the Queen, and eating those budget biscuits they serve you.

Whenever I get asked where I am from, my answer depends if I'm in New Zealand or not. Strange you say? You see, in my adopted country, I am identified by my ethnicity, while overseas I am seen as my adopted nationality.

I used to find it intrusive when people asked me where I was from, but after a gazillion times, I just take it as natural curiosity. Let's be honest, I am a chinky-eyed, brown skinned woman, with a foreign sounding surname and a Kiwi accent. 

During my OE in South-East Asia, I transformed into a Thai, Lao, Cambodian and Vietnamese. It seems even Asians themselves can't identify their own flavour. In China, where I taught English, they were fascinated by my Kiwi pronunciation. At times I felt like a chameleon, until I opened my mouth that is. That part didn't help my bartering skills and I probably paid tourist prices.

Cafe Worker: Order for Ronna (pronounced Row-na)
- Sees me and reads the docket again.
Cafe Worker: Oh, Rona (On the docket it says ‘Rona’ pronounced Roh-na, with a hard o and a, which is part of Maori folklore). Is that Maori?
Me: Oh nah, I’m Asian.
- Cafe Worker almost didn’t believe me.
— Shortyisms

My husband and I had a good laugh on the way back to the car.

I don't really take offense when people tell me Asian jokes, because there are plenty enough people who will volunteer to be offended for me. Or those who tell me a supposedly 'offensive' statement that is meant to be derogatory towards Asians. The most popular one being, "Go home you bleep bleep (insert some different race, which may not even qualify as an Asian)." I mean if you're going to be racist, at least be and educated one.

I am who I am, and I'm  okay with that.

P.S. I started writing this before I flew out to Singapore and realised I hadn't  published it. I had a good laugh, I wonder  what I was thinking about at the time?