Embodying Ancestry: Macy

Themes: Asian American identity, Philippines, immigration, mother-daughter relationships, Eurocentric beauty standards

“The first time I saw a spiritual healer, she told me that I needed to show more gratitude to my angels. So I lit a tea light before bed with the intention of thanking all of my ancestors and my angels here on earth. Since tea lights only stay lit for three hours, I was surprised to find the candle still lit when I woke up the next morning. I actually started tearing a bit because I was moved by the thought that the candle wasn’t done thanking every single spirit who has ever watched over me.”  

We’d keep family photos around our house of people I didn’t remember meeting or haven’t met at all and yet I still felt immense love for them. We continued to watch each other grow up through a camera or via Facebook but it was definitely hard not knowing if I’d ever get the chance to see them in person. Not fully knowing or understanding the parts of my life I left there, led me wanting to learn more about where I came from.” 

“To think that I am my mother’s carbon copy, is a way that I’m embodying ancestry. One distinguishable feature my grandmother, my mother and myself share is our nose. Except, growing up it was what I disliked the most about my face. A lot of distant relatives and strangers would give it praise because it made me look less Filipino. It took me a while to understand their reasons and to fully embrace my looks. I look like my mom and I am proud to say that now. If I embody anything about her, that should give me confidence.” –

“These everlasting flowers were a gift from a close friend when she visited Baguio, Philippines. It reminds me of the resilience of all the women I know and to call upon that strength in times of loneliness and doubt.” 

“Throughout school I found myself heavily involved in the Asian club and eventually a national Filipino organization in college. I did learn a lot about Filipino history but as time passed I found it to be a tad superficial. Knowing history wasn’t enough and I wanted to find a way to give back. I liked being involved with organizations that focused on education, building schools and sustainable farms in the Philippines for the towns to run themselves. I still feel a calling to find something that I can do personally, especially after visiting home in 2015 for the first time in 25 years. I don’t know what that is yet but I’m searching.”

“Embodying ancestry also means challenging the instilled Eurocentric beauty standards. I remember purposely avoiding the sun as a kid and frequently using papaya whitening soaps to avoid being called “dark”. Embracing my brown-ness was a long journey as well as breaking the quiet and obedient “Maria Clara” demeanor that is so praised. I still have difficulties when it comes to speaking out but I like to break the barriers through physical activities like weight lifting. I hope to embody both traditional and modern aged Filipina values that I can eventually share and discuss with my children.“

More Participants

Lontia | Marylin | Amy | Jasmine | Christie | Geraldine | Patricia | Laura | Angela & Diana | Tsedaye | Eddie | Lola | Briana | Simone | SINI | Italy | Ekua | Anika | Reem | Bobo | Kei | Macy | Sarah | DaMonique | Nandi | Anise | Yadira

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