In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it can be easy to forget cultural celebrations that so many people take part in annually. The month of May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month, and people are finding ways to showcase their diverse Asian heritage in unique ways.
According to the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website, the term Asian/Pacific means a few different things. It not only encompases people from the mainland continent of Asia, but also refers to people who originate from New Guinea, Fuji and the Hawaiian Islands, to name a few.
May is the month that the first people of Japanese descent immigrated to the United States, in 1843.
Although shelter-in-place orders are still in effect for the majority of cities across the country, people of Asian or Pacific Islander descent are finding ways to get connected to their cultural heritage. In a month where celebrations and ceremonies would typically be held to commemorate the culture, individuals are instead dressing in clothing and adorning themselves with traditional attire or aspects in order to express the pride of their roots.
Several of these people shared what it means to them to be Asian American.
Jon Ray A. Guevarra
“Being Asian American means recognizing the struggles my ancestors had to be where I am now while building opportunities for myself and descendants.”
Adrian James Cuyson
“Being Asian American means having the power, responsibility, and accountability of telling your story, your family’s story, and standing in solidarity with other people of color. As Asian Americans, we’ve experienced our own bouts with oppression, prejudice, and trauma. It is our duty to discuss those issues within our community and outside of our community in order to continue the healing process.”
Cuyson took his cultural expression a step further by getting a traditional Filipino tattoo on his arm.
“So it’s a modern take on indigenous Filipino tribal tattoos inspired by different groups.” He shares. “This piece was created for me by Jerome Noveras, a native Bay Area tattoo artist who specializes in contemporary Filipino tribal tattoos. This tattoo represents my identity and life journey. It’s read from top to bottom, with each layer representing different aspects of my identity and life.”
“Being Asian American to me is having pride in being a Pinay, who is a lifelong learner of hxstory and a storyteller of my ancestors’ legacies. This commitment teaches me how to love myself, love others, and love my community. It is a love that comes in waves of healing, resilience, and hope. It has brought me to a home where I’m able to be vulnerable and breathe with the energy of kapwa.”
“Being Asian American, specifically Filipina American, means that I am never alone. This community is a constant reminder that there have been and always will be others standing in solidarity with me. I’m proud of my culture and hope to continue gaining a greater understanding of my people!”
“To me, it means being a part of two cultures. While I have my Indian roots, I grew up American.”