The Questionable Asian

Sharing my #AsianStory for my Mixed Asian Children

Happy Year of the Rat! With it being Lunar New Year, I thought it would be fitting to share my #AsianStory. This is a hashtag that has been floating around the Asian Instagram community for the new year so I thought it would be perfect for my next blogpost.

At the start of the new lunar year, I actually shared a brief summary of mine and my husband’s #AsianStory on an Instagram post on our family account (@LivNgwiththeNgs). And for context purposes, here it is again…

In honor of LNY, we want to share our #AsianStory. A lot of times folks get confused about our IG name, so to clarify it’s LivNG (like Living) with the Ng’s. Our last name “Ng” is pronounced like “ing” but often times we get called the “N.G.” or even “Nguyen” family. We are the Ng’s because dad is half Chinese & half Nicaraguan. Growing up he embraced his father’s culture by eating the food, spending time with his Chinese family, and celebrating Chinese New Year every year. He doesn’t speak Cantonese like his dad, but has picked up words and phrases that we try to teach the girls.

Mom’s #AsianStory is that she’s Filipino. As a first generation Filipino-American on both sides of her family, she’s learned to embrace her Filipino culture by learning the language, embracing the customs, and eating & cooking the food. Did you know the Philippines has a lot of Chinese influence on their culture? Because of this, mom has also grown up to celebrate Lunar New Year. Also having grown up in San Francisco, Lunar New Year has always been a large celebration in the community.

While most Filipinos do not celebrate Chinese/Lunar New Year, this one does. Not just because my husband celebrates it, but because my family has Chinese cultural roots as well. Before the Spaniards came to the Philippines, the Chinese had already been living there for many years. It’s both the Chinese and Spanish influence that makes the Filipino culture the unique Asian culture that it is. Growing up there were things I actually thought were strictly Filipino, and it wasn’t until I was with my husband that I realized some of these things were actually Chinese. (Like eating “tikoy” aka “lingo” aka “nian gao” is actually a Chinese tradition for CNY.)

In actuality, growing up as a Filipino was sometimes a little confusing because of this cultural blend. Often times my father and I would be mistaken for Chinese, and by middle school and high school I was often asked if I was pacific-islander. Yes the Philippines are made up of thousands of islands on water that some may think is the Pacific Ocean, BUT they’re actually islands that border the Philippine Sea and South China Sea in Southeast Asia. I’ll admit at one point I did claim Pacific-islander, but it was only because it felt like other Asians didn’t see us Filipinos as Asians. Like I said, confusing.

Now as a mother of mixed Filipino, Chinese, & Nicaraguan kids, one of my goals is to make sure my kids learn about where their ancestors came from and embrace the cultures that make them uniquely them. 

A question I’ve asked my mixed husband and mixed friends in the past is “Do you identify more with one than another?” And one reason I ask it is because if I’m full Filipino and already have had a ethnicity identity crisis, then I imagine they definitely have. This is something I’m hoping my kids don’t have. Right now we do our best to teach them as much as possible of each language and regularly eat food from each culture. As they get older, I hope they learn to love these things that make them uniquely them.

I know it’ll be challenging with the world we live in, but I’m hoping as Asians and Latinos are becoming more and more prevalent in main stream culture, we’ll face less hurdles. 

To kick off the start of Chinese New Year, we celebrated by checking out the Lunar New Year celebration at Disney’s California Adventure. We decided to dress the girls in traditional Qipao dresses since we saw Minnie Mouse was sporting one too. Our girls were so excited to wear their dresses. The day they wore them almost every Asian cast member we saw greeted us with a “Happy New Year!” I do wonder if they would’ve greeted us if they weren’t wearing the dresses, but I will admit it did feel special for them to get recognized in them.

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