Hi there! My name is Kathleen Talamayan, and I feel grateful for the opportunity to share a bit about my heritage and what it means to me as we celebrate AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) month.
I was born in the Philippines and moved to San Diego with my family when I was seven years old. Moving to a new country and learning to adapt to a new language was a challenging time for me as a young child.
I grew up speaking Tagalog and our local dialect, which is a separate language specific to our region. While there are a little over 100 dialects in the Philippines, each specific to its own region, the main languages that everyone uses to communicate are Tagalog and English.
I learned to speak English by the time I was 5 years old. So, utilizing it as my primary language in social and educational settings by the time I was 7 years old was difficult. However, the transition was made easier due to the amount of diversity I saw growing up in San Diego.
While raising me and my two siblings in a new environment, my parents made sure to instill the same love and appreciation for our Filipino roots, from the food we ate to our community and cultural values.
One of the values that is deeply ingrained in me is an age-old Filipino sentiment or term known as "kapwa”. This can be roughly translated to mean "shared identity" or "shared humanity." It emphasizes the interconnectedness of all people and encourages empathy, compassion, and social responsibility within your inner circle (close family/friends), personal communities, and humanity as a whole. I continue to practice this value in my personal life and hope to share it with my community as well.
Some of my favorite Filipino dishes include turon, lumpia, pancit, and adobo. At any family party, at least one person or family member will bring a homemade Filipino dish or dessert. My family and I celebrate Christmas, which has always been one of the biggest events that brings us all together.
As we celebrate AAPI month, I hope this piece encourages us all to embrace our roots and possibly introduce the “kapwa” mentality into our daily lives.