Wednesday, January 01, 2014

"Confessions of a Third Culture Kid"

- by Alina Heim

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Posted by someone on Facebook. I read the article, loved it, and am now quoting and linking here. 
Previous Post: I am Walter Mitty

"When we are abroad, we speak enthusiastically of our “homeland”, of our celebrated cultural traditions and pride for our heritage. But when we return, we cease to be recognized as natives. We’re almost natives, but there’s something off about us. We spend our lives in an awkward cultural limbo, neither here nor there. And chances are, the only people we will ever foster deep connections with, will be outsiders like us."

-Alina Heim

This March of 2014 will mark my 17th year in Canada. I've spent more time here than where I was born. Technically, I'm only of TWO cultures, but close enough - enough for me to relate to the above quoted passage at least.

Which one then weighs more heavily on my


...on my identity? Well... I dunno, to be honest. "It's complicated" like that writer I quoted above said in her article. And it's the whole point of this blog. 

On the one hand, I had a great childhood, and I can recall it fondly - because I'm a 'past positive' kind of guy, it gets better and better with age too! Even without that, I do feel that your formative years do count for a lot. It's where we all form most, if not all, of our quirks, hopes, dreams, attitudes and preferences whether we admit to it or not. However, I did grow old here in Canada (I was about to say 'I matured here but...), and that too should count for so much. When you grow old, change is inevitable. You are shaped by the trials you face and you adjust yourself accordingly to your surroundings. Whether we admit to it or not.
But then again, like almost everyone, I also don't remember my earliest years on this Earth - who remembers anything before they were five? Perhaps then, my time in the Philippines counts for a lot less than I would dare acknowledge? Ah, but I have history there! When I go to the Philippines, I'm not just another visiting foreigner - in fact, sometimes, I am not a foreigner* at all. I'm one of them and I look the part too.

So is it like what Bert Cooper said in Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 12, Nixon vs. Kennedy:

"The Japanese have a saying: A man is whatever room he is in, and right now Donald Draper is in this room."

Or is it more like what Don Draper himself said in Season 4, Episode 8, The Summer Man:

"When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him. He has a million reasons for being anywhere, just ask him. If you listen, he'll tell you how he got there."

So yeah, it's very complicated. 

I was, however, kind-of-sort-of-somewhat able to encapsulate it at some point during one conversation about two years ago - I may have actually blogged about it before, but I don't remember, and I'm not about to go digging up for it, so here it goes: 

"It's a past I can't forget and a present I can't ignore." **

 I'm here now, yes. But that's where I came from...

Next Post: White Privilege in the Philippines

* = Foreigner is such a loaded term in the Philippines. Sometimes it is shorthand for "White". If you look like one of them, it can even be shorthand for "Potato" - you know: brown outside, white inside. And if you were born there, then, that's even worse since there's always the suspicion that you might just be pretending, or are ashamed of having been Filipino. It's complicated, yo. 

** = Unfortunately, the dude I said it to stole this and put it in his term paper or his honours thesis.. I forget where exactly now. Now, you don't or can't always cite conversations. But you at least try to acknowledge you weren't original.  Had he cited or just mentioned "As someone I know once said..." then I might be ok.  

Instead, I got nothing. He owned it like it was his, that fu__ng bast_d. Hope he burns in hell. Or I hope he's plagiarized other shit that he'll be caught for and be hanged for. I'm not saying that someone else, at some point in time, somewhere in the world, haven't said those exact words. But I know I thought up of those words, impromptu, during one of our conversations, he remarked how good it was, and then he completely copied those exact words completely stealing it from me without any credit.

I don't take to plagiarists kindly.  But I digress....

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