The idea behind “English” was from an earlier poem I wrote called “Dad,” [comma intended] which was written in June 2013 for a writing workshop and open mic leading up to Queer pride. The prompt was to write a letter to your dad, in light of father’s day.
In 2010, I was a first year at CUNY Hunter College. I joined Pilipinos of Hunter (POH), to be part of a Filipino community. I participated in a workshop called “Personal Migration” which was given by GABRIELA New York to see how our personal stories of migration are actually a part of the larger history of migration from the Philippines to the US. The workshop made participants reflect on the attitudes, beliefs, and actions that our immigrant families have that are shaped by US imperialism’s domination over the politics, economy, military and culture of our people in the Philippines.
After that workshop, I began my journey to discover more about my roots by having conversations with my parents. One day, I asked why my siblings and I did not grow up speaking Tagalog. The question came from my wanting to connect with my dad who spoke and understood English, but could not express himself as completely as he could in his dialect. It was then that I found out that my older brother had speech problems at an age where you should already start speaking. It was concerning to my parents because my sister and I were already reading and talking and my brother, being the eldest out of the 3 of us, was not. At the time, my parents were actually teaching us both English and Tagalog, so there was a short amount of time that I spoke and understood it as a child. But because my brother was still having trouble speaking, the doctor said to to teach only one language to us so it wouldn’t be confusing. Continue reading