When I was nine I immigrated to America with my mother to a little town called Yorktown Heights in New York. I quickly adjusted to a new life in the suburbs learning all there was to know about what it meant to be American. (This meant Saturday morning cartoons, Sesame Street, sleepovers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pizzaaaaaa, and McDonalds)
I grew up in a family setting where you didn’t really ask questions. Now, we’re going to get a little PERSONAL up in here, ya ready? (you don’t have to keep reading, just look at the pretty pictures…)
I have no relationship with my biological father. I’ve only met him twice that I can remember, and faint recollections as a child. To cut to the chase, my mother was, how shall we say…”the other woman” and my biological dad was already married with 4 kids of his own. Anyhow, all that stuff is fuzzy and like I said, in my family, we don’t prod and pry into business that’s not ours.
Sooo… needless to say, I really had no connection to the Philippines when we left. I never really desired to know much about the country I spent most of my childhood in. I have wonderful memories from my childhood, but ask me about Philippine history or culture and you’ll be met with a blank stare.
So last night I was pondering around Pinterest as one does at 9 PM already tucked in bed. And I came across all these wonderful vintage photos of the Philippines from the late 19th century.
And amazingly enough a lot of the scenes depicted here I remember as a child.
Now, before you make the wrong assumption that I’m really a time traveler (because how else would pictures from the 1800s look like my childhood in the 80s?!) remember that I grew up “in the sticks” of the Visayan islands.
Seeing these vintage photos from the Philippines made me wonder about my Filipino ancestors. Where do I come from really? Where do I get certain quirks and traits from? Did I have an ancestor who loved to dance? Who loved preserving old things? Who loved things when they were pleasantly worn in?
As I gaze at these women in the pictures with their dark hair and dark eyes I wonder if in someway we are related?
Unfortunately websites like ancestry.com do not help at all in researching these sort of things. As far as records of family in the Philippines, most of it was word of mouth. And again, if you come from a family that doesn’t talk much about things, our family history has faded away.
As someone who deeply loves history and old objects and the stories behind them, this saddens me. I’ll never really know. I’ll never have answers. All I have is what I can imagine.