Filipinos have an elaborate history in Toronto that extends all the way back to the 1930s. Theirs is a classic story that comprises of the same aspirations and sacrifices that all immigrant groups have and experience. What originated as a small community of only 10 Filipinos in early Manitoba has now blossomed to a population of over 600,000 across Canada. Toronto welcomed several of them with open arms, and in turn, they weaved their distinctive culture into the very fabric of the city; helping to build its heritage and shape its character.
Living as an ethnic individual in a culturally-diverse city like Toronto involves sharing your culture and explaining it to people who may not initially understand it. The process is normally quite fun, but sometimes it can be a little bit burdensome. If you’re Filipino, or have been exposed to Filipino culture, you’re bound to relate to some of these "struggles":
1. Having to describe your school lunches to your Toronto friends, but not really knowing what you’re describing.
“It’s called adobo. It’s like, really good and stuff.”
2. Inviting your Toronto friends to a family party and having to explain why there is a dead, roasted pig on your table.
Likely from Bella’s Lechon on Sheppard and Morningside.
3. Craving for Jollibee but its arrival to Toronto has been delayed.
So you satisfy your Chicken Joy cravings with Popeyes Chicken or KFC in the meanwhile but it just isn’t the same.
4. Having to translate everything your relatives say to your non-Filipino girlfriend or boyfriend.
“Don’t worry; they’re only saying good things!”
5. Your parents constantly bugging you to offer each of your guests a pair of tsinelas.
And thoroughly enjoying the sight of your most masculine friend wearing a pair of flower slippers.
6. Hearing some people say that Filipinos aren't Asian.
Filipinos are from the Philippines. The Philippines is in Asia. Therefore Filipinos are Asian.
7. Calling your older siblings or cousins "Ate" or "Kuya" in public.
And your Toronto friends eventually catching on and using those same words on you..
8. Knowing (or knowing of) every other Filipino person in your area.
Sometimes you’re convinced that you’re somehow related to all of them.
9. When people are confused as to whether you're a Spanish-looking Asian person or an Asian-looking Spanish person.
Then you tell them you’re Filipino and they genuinely have no idea what that is.
10. When your parents point with their lips and you have absolutely no clue what they’re pointing to.
“Get me the ano. Over there.” And you’re just like… The what?
11. Not being able to find your shoes among the other fifty pairs of shoes at a Filipino house party.
Too… many… sneakers…
12. Hiding the tabo that's in your washroom when your friends are at your house because you’re slightly embarrassed.
No one ever has to know.
13. Thinking an earthquake hit Toronto but it's just your parents talking over the phone.
Filipino conversations over the phone or Skype are the loudest thing ever.
14. Getting teased by Mayweather fans.
Then getting defensive with a flurry of Mayweather memes.
15. Having difficulty adjusting to regular Spaghetti.
Sweet spaghetti needs to become a thing in Toronto.
16. Having primarily Filipino friends, or being the “token” Filipino person in your group.
Depends where you live – for example, the former instance is probably more likely in North York, Scarborough and Mississauga.
17. Living in the shadow of mestizos
And reluctantly accepting that papaya soap isn’t enough to turn you into Anne Curtis or Gerald Anderson.
18. The challenge of eating the home cooking of your non-Filipino friend’s mom when you’re over for dinner
“You know what would go great with this pot roast? A side of steamed rice.”
19. Being interrogated by your relatives about your love life
And having to come up with an appropriate response to “Bakit??” when you say you’re still single.
20. Having to mano all of your 15 or so titas and titos before you leave.
This is one reason why Filipinos run late!
21. Cancelling your plans for Manny Pacquiao fights and Ms. Universe Pageants
Arguably the most important events of your mom and dad’s year.
22. Not knowing whether to check “Asian” or “Pacific Islander” on forms
Because “Pacific Islander” technically applies to us too.
23. People immediately assuming that you can sing and dance just because you’re Filipino.
And denying it even though you probably can because you want to be modest.
24. Being a part of YFC Toronto or knowing one of its Filipino members
There’s a lot more drama going on behind the scenes than you’d expect...
25. Getting criticized by your relatives for tanning.
Because lighter skin is more in line with the Filipino standard of beauty.
26. The soundtrack to your life consists mainly of TFC teleserye theme songs.
Pangako Sayo will forever haunt you.
27. Wanting to diet and eat healthier but your house is always filled with tasty snacks
There’s always something in your kitchen to tempt you, whether it’s pork rinds or Boy Bawang.
28. Sending a Balikbayan box to your family in the Philippines but wanting what’s in the box for yourself.
That Roots sweater and those Nestle chocolates should have been yours.
29. Immediately turning around whenever you hear the sounds hoy or pssst.
Inescapable sounds produced by Filipinos in Toronto.
30. Asking someone to “open” the lights or to turn up the “air con”.
The “Filipino English” can rub off on you real hard.
31. Eating spam, tocino or corned beef with rice on days when your mom doesn’t know what to cook.
But you were in the mood for sinigang or nilaga.
32. Being tempted to eat rice with your hands in public.
It’s just easier that way!
33. Being forced to sing a song on the Magic Mic at family parties.
You’re going to sing whether you like it or not.
34. Growing up with a weird nickname that your relatives made up for you.
You have no answer for your friends when they ask you why your parents refer to you as “Kokoy”.
35. Having multiple Tito Boys, Tito Bongs, or Tita Babys
It gets especially hard when you introduce them all to your Toronto friends in the same sentence.
36. Remote controls for the TV wrapped in plastic.
For no apparent reason.
37. Confusing people when you say you need to use the “CR”.
“What’s a comfort room?” they ask.
38. Constantly being bothered by your Toronto friends to bring them some lumpia or pancit.
And not being able to lie to them because they already know there’s plenty to take home.
39. Having to explain the concept of halo-halo to your Toronto friends.
Ube ice cream? Shaved ice? Bananas? Jackfruit? There’s just too much going on!
40. Being drowned in Vicks Vapour Rub when you’re sick.
Your grandma swears by its magical healing powers.
Alright, so these aren’t that bad. Struggles, shmuggles. In the end, Filipinos will always be proud to be Filipino!