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My world is multidimensional. Diverse. Eclectic. My “inay” (mother) is Filipina. My “otosan” (father) is Japanese. My “sabase accha dosta” (best friends) are Indians. My school is international.

After over 400 years of rule by various colonial masters, the Philippines is probably one of the most colonized nations in the world. Because of that, many believe that the Philippines has never forged its own true identity. However, as a born-and-raised “pinay” (Filipino woman), I can confidently say that we Filipinos have found our place in the world. But in spite of these myriad influences, the Filipino has emerged with a distinctive and unmistakable identity. There are a number of endearing characteristics that set Filipinos apart. My favorites include: the puckering of one’s lips to point someone in a certain direction; eating rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and celebrating Christmas as soon as the months end in “-ber.” But what I feel makes Filipinos truly unique is the culture’s strong family ties, which far surpass the notion of unconditional love, and the preservation of a positive attitude despite the struggle under poverty.

Moving to Tokyo at the tender age of seven confronted me with another dimension of my identity. In...

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