12 January 2009

meeting for the first time

Meeting my Filipino relatives for the first time poses such a tremendous challenge for me.

For most, this experience is awkward at best: Should you hug your cousin? Kiss your new found aunt? How do you interact?

But for me, it's a bit different.

I find myself meeting relatives for the very first time. Online.

It's a "hazard" of growing up Filipino-American.

See I'm all about social networking.

So imagine my surprise when my dad peered over my shoulder one day and pointed out several first cousins that were on Facebook. First cousins whom I didn't even recognize.

See, Lolo2Amara is the oldest of eight children. He left the Philippines in 1974. That means in the last 34 years:

  • Lola and Lolo2Amara had me and Aunt2Amara.
  • Lolo2Amara's siblings had children in the Philippines.
  • And those siblings and their children are now located all over the world.
I have personally met six of my first cousins. I can't say I've met all of aunts and uncles.

So as I catch up with these cousins online, I feel so much like an outsider. They all grew up together while I was in the United States. When they reminisce, I cannot share in those memories.

But then I realize how lucky I am to live in a world of Twitter and Facebook and Friendster. Without these tools, I wouldn't even exchange emails with my family. They'd remain strangers to me.

I wish I could meet with my relatives in the PI (and those in New Zealand, England, and Australia!) rather than online. But my wallet just won't let me.

So until then, I guess Facebook will do.

When she's not IM'ing her cousins, Mom2Amara can be found at her blog Being Mom2Amara. Or you can tweet her on Twitter too.


mamazilla said...

i know exactly where you're coming from since i grew up here with my mom and my sisters and brother grew up in manila. thankfully, i come from a family of ardent letter writers. long before email, we bought onionskin paper in bulk to write letters to each other in between visits.

so, although i know they share a lifetime of memories that i'll never be a part of, i also know that i was around for some of them, even if only on paper. :)

now, email and friendster, facebook, etc... make the connection so much easier and faster...

Tres said...

Filipinos kiss everyone! Ha ha! Just kiss everyone & you'll be safe :) I was born in NYC & lived in Manila for 10 years in high school/early 20's. Now I'm back in the US. Luckily I got to learn my culture over there. It was the 2nd best experience of my life! First was having my son, of course :)