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My Lolo and Lola

I've been thinking about my Filipino grandparents a lot. And it has me thinking mainly about family and my Filipino heritage.



So two main events triggered this.

The first: my roommate's grandfather passing away. She was devastated and although she seems to be passing the days quite normally (or at least saving face well), I know how much she misses him. Her grandfather means alot to her and she was really affected by his passing.

The other: My Filipino organization's recent general meeting, centered on our families and traits that they have and how they relate to Filipino history. For example with my family, things like not being able to speak Tagalog (and in my case, not even being able to understand Tagalog, as quite a few of my Filipino friends seem to be able to do) and learning about my grandfather's past racism relates to American colonization. Or how my Spanish last name is an example of Spanish colonization. There was also the discussion of how today, we are losing our culture and we need to find ways to preserve it.

I kind of wish I was closer to my grandparents. I mean, I know I'll feel very sad and upset when they pass on but I don't feel like I'm as close to them as my roommate is with her grandfather. I learn new things about my grandfather every time I visit family, it seems, things that I feel like I might've known had I spent more time with him. And my grandma, well, I was babysat by her for nine years but I was too busy eating food she cooked for me and having fun with my brother and cousin to really know her. But they, along with my paternal grandmother, are really my only grandparents. This is the grandma that I grew up with and have been closest to and this is the only grandpa I have/know. I know some people have multiple lolos or lolas or friends of lolos/lolas that you call 'Lolo/Lola' or grand-aunts or grand-uncles. But they are really my only grandparents and I'm going to feel that loss greatly when they pass. I just kind of wish I was closer to them so I could truly understand that loss that my roommate feels right now.

Also, my grandparents are the greatest link to my Filipino culture. My family has talked about this before. At family reunions, Grandma's Filipino food, the sound of my grandparents chatting in Tagalog, and (when they're on TV) Pacquiao fights are familiar, trademark settings. My grandma is the only one who knows how to cook all these Filipino dishes and it's the way she makes the food that we look forward to most. My grandparents are the only ones in our family who know how to speak Tagalog. Are these things going to just dissipate when they pass? My family can't imagine reunions without Grandma's Filipino food or not hearing Tagalog around their house anymore. It's a very scary reality that everyone in my family will have to face one day. I can't imagine how our family will be like afterwards except very, for lack of a better term, American. And losing this rich part of our family is something I don't want to happen.

So how to preserve this culture in my family? One that my family has already planned but still needs to be done is recording my grandma cooking. Having the recipes on paper isn't enough, especially because there's so much unique stuff she does from memory. I love the idea but I really want me and my family to get to it instead of constantly talking about it before it's too late. And I hope we can get all the dishes recorded. Another is that after that GM, I'm all the more inspired to learn Tagalog. I don't know when I'll get the opportunity but I want to learn. I'm learning from my roommate who's taking a class but she's a beginner at it too and until she becomes more advanced, there's not too much I can learn right now.

I want these things to continue in our family so that my grandparents and what they brought from the Philippines won't be lost.