Our American Dream

When people ask me what being Filipino-American means, I have tons of answers. It means being oddly but gloriously called “exotic” by random strangers. It means eating bomb food and having friends come to events specifically for the lumpia. It means learning about my parent’s lifestyle which was completely different from anything I could ever imagine. Lastly, it means learning to cope with the fact I won’t get to see my immediate family members as often as other people.

The Bulayos!

If I had to name one person who is the ultimate cheerleader for Filipinos in my life, it would have to be my dad. Since the day I was born, he instilled in us what it was to be Filipino and pretty much went days on end telling me stories about the Philippines. Let’s just say, life is not the same there as it is here. That’s probably a given but is it really? People get this idea of Philippines being a picture perfect island of Palawan or Boracay where the islands are beautiful. What others call their ultimate vacation getaway is to them, their backyard. While that may be true, not every single place in the Philippines is this idyllic.

My parents didn’t grow up on beautiful islands. My parents grew up in a place probably very similar to a lot of your parents. Raise your hand (or nod) if your parents told you all the stories of having to walk to school in the mud and coming to very little. Let’s not forget the fact both my parents have a number of siblings so making ends meet for everyone in the family wasn’t quite the easiest situation.

It was the fact that my parents made a bold decision. Specifically, my mom made it her goal to come to America for more opportunities. As we all know or heard, America is the melting pot of so many different cultures, all with the same goal of the “American Dream.” No two stories are the same when trying to achieve the so-called “American Dream” but we all know it was a struggle to get here.

Meet Ashley Bulayo. Social media superstar. Her roots are Filipino.

So that’s why when someone asks me what it means to be Filipino-American, it means my parents fought their way to be here so that way I could have a more fortunate lifestyle than they did. It means that both my mom and dad made sacrifices to leave their families so they could start a new one here. And I can’t take my fortunate lifestyle for granted. It makes me admire my parents more and more every year of my life. When you’re a kid, you don’t think twice about what you have. You just think about yourself. You don’t notice the sacrifices your parents made to leave their parents at a young age to move to a completely different country just for a better life until you grow older and start the journey of carving out your own path.

And as you get older, you take a step back. You notice things more. You take into consideration how lucky you are to be in America (OK, maybe not right at this moment) but with political jokes aside, I’m damn grateful. Being Filipino-American to me, at the core, is my parent’s American Dream and they fulfilled it.

Ashley Bulayo is the social media specialist for TFCU. When she’s not spending her time scrolling through her Instagram or Twitter feed, you can most likely find her spending time with her dog and catching up on late 2000’s TV shows.