This is the first in a series of posts reflecting on the significance of cultural events and organizations like Filipino-American Community of Fairfield, Suisun & Vacaville, Inc.
I grew up in Vacaville in the 1990s. Back then, my family spent most weekends in Fairfield because of the Catholic charismatic community at Holy Spirit Church, which was largely Filipino. At the time, I didn’t really get why that had become part of our routine when there was a Catholic Church right down the street from us. Now, after 10+ years living in the Washington, D.C. metro area — often going long stretches of time without seeing other people who look like me — I can appreciate why a 15-minute drive from Vacaville to Fairfield wasn’t so bad. It’s hard not to feel alone when you are disconnected from your village: people who you don’t have to explain inside jokes or unspoken rules to because they already know. People who grew up with the same values and a similar point of reference when talking about family and culture. That short drive meant community and was a bridge home for my parents, both of whom immigrated from the Philippines in the 1970s.
It wasn’t until after having kids, living far from my family of origin, that I began to crave more of what I grew up with — the food, the language, the music and even the random sense of humor that comes with growing up Filipino. I didn’t realize until recently how closely intertwined my experience of my Catholic faith is with my identity as a Filipina-American. For me, those Friday night prayer meetings were significant both because of the praise & worship songs AND the fellowship afterwards, when the aunties and uncles always lost track of time, gathered around the table overflowing with the greatest hits of Filipino cuisine and telling stories in a mix of Tagalog and English, peppered with Ilocano and Visayan.
The idea of bringing back Fil-Am’s Scholarship & Cultural Night was born as a result of this desire for community (I still live on the east coast but spend summers in Vacaville) and the recognition that the only way I can pass my culture on to my children is if I am intentional. I believe organizations like @filamfsv are the key to ensuring that our connection with our ancestors and their legacy is never lost.
There is an image that has held deep meaning for me, and it is one of light. Light that each generation bears and can passed on to the generations that follow, if only we are willing and able to receive it. My hope is that gatherings such as the Fil-Am Scholarship & Cultural Night can be an avenue for us to fulfill our roles as light-bearers for one another and for generations to come.
Please join us in the coming months as we gather and re-connect as community:
🎨 Paint Party for a Cause - Sun 3/15
🖌 Interactive Baybayin Workshop - Fri 5/22
🗣 Kwentuhan - date TBD