Since I love going on and on about cultural and social differences that I notice around me, I thought I’d try focusing on myself in this regard. As far as I’ve known, I’m fully Filipino- as in both sides of my family up until the third degree (people I know) are all Filipino. Therefore both my parents are fully Filipino.
But there is this constant thing in my life when it comes to how people perceive my heritage: they usually get it wrong!
What you see before you is the list of guesses most people take at my race. With a) being the most common and e) being the least common. Now I understand that definitely there is a general look for most races (oh no, politically incorrect!) and it’s because there are common features in people who belong to a certain country or region and have had endless generations there. With Filipinos it’s usually tanned skin, rounder eyes and dark hair. Medium height or short.
Funny enough I actually fit into all those categories save for one- skin color. I mean, this whole blog is called The Musing Mestiza for goodness sake! It is a word play on my skin color, which has been commented on by others, especially Filipinos most of my life. Let me be honest, I do like my skin color and I love it the way it is. When it came to my blog title, it was a matter of rhyming and having similar sounding words, I came up with Musing first. Mestiza sounded similar and that’s how the title came to be.
But the point is- simply because of my skin color many people mistake my race, not because of other physical characteristics.
The oddest thing though, is that there is one specific type of people that always see right through me and know my race: older Filipina women. Usually the ones in their 30s or older. Whenever I walk past them on the street, they shoot me that piercing up-and-down-look or a suspicious slight quirking of the brow. As if to say, ‘A-ha! I know you’re Filipina, give it up now!’ They had me completely, and the thing is- I can’t figure out how they know! It’s a mystery to me.
Of course, there’s an exception though, which is when I talk. Filipinos are well-known for a Filipino-American accent. An accent that is all about stressing every letter in every word. Really. House becomes hawss. Door becomes Do–or. As for me though, I have lost the Filipino accent and the American part is left, mixed with Australian accent I’ve also developed. But a lot of Aussies will catch onto the American accent mixed into it and if they happen to know Filipinos they put two and two together. Asian and speaks like an American? Probably Filipino.
A lot of people tend to take offense or get frustrated when people mislabel their race but as for me? I don’t really mind. Being a mistisa/mestiza makes my life experiences quite interesting and a little funny. There’s nothing wrong with being a bit different.
What’s your experiences being labelled/mislabelled due to your looks?