They told me I’m made in the image of God But why do they tell me, “Stay out of the sun Janelle” “Make sure you put on sunblock Janelle” “Use papaya soap Janelle” What kind of kingdom is this? It feels like hell Scrubbing my skin Pinching my nose What hurts more Is my deeply rooted self-hatred I can’t shake it
Pinoy pride on our shirts But underneath, white is all we strive to be Home in the land of the free Pinanganak sa Pilipinas Lumaki sa America Sino ka ba?
Ako? I’m proud to live in a place that Stands for liberty & justice for all I’m proud to be light-skinned I’m proud to not sound like a FOB I’m proud to live in such diversity But turns out, I live in this hegemony Sino ka ba?
Ako? I’m free Free to play the game My colonizers created Free to assimilate Assimilate to eradicate My Filipina identity
Then Jesus swoops in to save me Not like my colonizer, no But as a Father who knows And loves every part of me as I am, Fil-Am Sino ka ba?
Ako? Ako ay anak ng Diyos Binuhos niyang biyaya para sa akin Para dumating ako sa puntong ito na Maganda ako kasi Pilipina ako Now I can see The image of God Redeemed in me
This was the first poem that I ever wrote. I had just returned from a six week mission trip in the Philippines where I had begun to further understand the lasting effects of U.S. imperialism and specifically, how it affects our perception of self. I was inspired by Ruby Ibarra’s work and I wanted to convey my process in fully accepting my Filipina American identity. Even in the midst of brokenness, I saw and continue to see the beauty of God’s healing and redemption in me and in the Filipino people.