WHAT IT MEANS TO BE CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS

WHAT IT MEANS FOR CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS....

The other day I was watching a documentary and in it, they discussed how turbulent times were in the Philippines in the late 70's early 80's. At that time, I was less than 6 years old and I still remember it somewhat. 

Quick history background: The people of the Philippines were rebelling against Ferdinand Marcos and it seemed the entire country was rallying behind "People Power." Everywhere there were protests and a unified goal to take down Marcos. Why? Because prior to that, a candidate named Ninoy Aquino was running for president against Marcos and the country was excited for him to win. And then he was executed. His execution was what made the people say they've had enough of govt corruption and decided to all rebel. Because of this rebellion and riots and protests, Marcos ordered marshal law and the streets were paved with soldiers and tanks.

Oddly, I still remember this. Our family too was part of the rebellion and my father would join in with the protests and rallies. We ALL wore yellow emblazoned with "People Power" or "I (heart) Ninoy." Yellow bandanas, yellow t-shirts, yellow flags. We would chant with people on the streets or honk our cars when we drove through protest areas. 

About a year ago I was having a conversation with my dad and he was telling me a bit about that time. He was telling me how it was starting to get pretty dangerous in the Philippines and despite that he wanted to stay and fight, our safety was much more important. 

Sometimes you have to make the choice to flee instead of fighting- not out of cowardice but because there's a bigger war that needs to be fought.

So we all fled to the US and watched from here as the rebel forces won and took down the dictator in what is now known as the People Power Revolution.

Fast forward to this morning...

I woke up to the sound of Aris eating breakfast. I looked out the window at the beach in our backyard. I flicked on the Christmas lights and reminded myself to wrap presents after he leaves for school and I was thinking about where I was going to hide them. I checked my emails. Made some business calls. Did some house chores. Ran errands. 

The whole time I'm thinking...how must have it been like to have to parent a child in a time of nationwide crisis? I'm thinking could I even be strong enough to keep my family from tanks and marching soldiers and burning cities when my biggest issue that I'm facing today is getting through the long lines at the post office in time to pick up my son from school.

And I realize...I get to do these mundane things today because my parents fought for it to be so. They protected me and provided for me a better life so that my biggest worries would be what to feed my son for lunch. They led me out of a turbulent environment so that I can look out my window and around my house and say, "Wow, my son gets to grow up surrounded by all this." Their fight was not only for me but for the generations that would come after.

This is what immigrant means. This is what land of opportunity means for us. It's not to take your jobs. It's not to take over "your country." It's not to take your resources and tax dollars. We do it because the love for our family is just as strong as your love is for yours. Now tell me again to "Go back to your country." You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about because you haven't had to raise your children smack dab in the middle of riots.

I want to teach my son that all of this- all these things he has- didn't come at a small price. It all cost his grandparents on both sides an insane amount of courage. It all cost his grandparents on both sides an insane amount of sacrifice. Everything from his legos to his boredom- it all came because 4 people were strong enough to keep us all safe amidst the bullets.