Mag-isa*

Why it Matters to Support Rizal Center Series

by Lulu Santiago

 As a teenage Filipino-American, I’ve been a stranger to my culture. I haven’t had many Filipino friends or Asians at that. It’s hard to see other Filipinos and Asians my age mingle with each other and to see them hang out when I’ve only ever known Filipinos connected to my family.

There’s always been hope that I would meet a Filipino my age at PESO (Philippine Engineers and Scientists Organization), or even through my own family but that’s never come true. Filipino food is really the only thing that has been able to connect me to my culture. TFC (The Filipino Channel) and other Filipino shows are always entertaining but I was never taught Tagalog, so it’s hard for me to understand.

One thing I have learned is that as you get older, you realize a lot about what you want and how you can achieve it. For years, learning Tagalog has been a struggle because of the lack of exposure to my culture and Filipinos but nothing is impossible.

My first time at Rizal Center was an eye-opening experience. I met older and younger Filipinos who were determined to rebuild our community and being able to see the passion that each person expressed was amazing. I later learned the story behind the Rizal Center’s downfall and you’ll realize that power can destroy your cultural roots and blind you from the real reason you’re in that position of power.

“I now know that I am not alone* in my culture and that many others feel the same way.

I feel that there is a want and a need to rebuild our Filipino community and Rizal Center and that is what has kept me determined to better our culture and how we are perceived in this world.

Lulu Santiago is 13 years old and an incoming 8th grader. She always had a passion for music and writing. She plays violin as a soloist and as a part of an orchestra. Writing has allowed her to express her thoughts and feelings in an easy and fast way.  


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