Hi, my name is Samara Fletcher and I’m half Filipino and half Trinidadian. For a very long time I’ve struggled with grasping my own identity, being mixed it feels as if I had no one to relate to in my family. Growing up I was surrounded by my filipino side of the family. Despite being raised the same way as my cousins, I’ve always felt out of place. Whether it was because of my curls, or other factors.
When thinking about my language and how it shapes me, I feel like I should know… how to speak Tagalog. I guess me not grasping the language from a young age has always made me feel even more detached from my culture than I should. I only know a few words that I hear in a day-to-day basis, one of them being “anak”, which means my child. Hearing my mom call me, “anak” brings me so much comfort, and reminds me that even though I am not fully filipino, the culture will always be apart of who I am. It’s what makes me.. and same goes for my Trinidadian side. I am even more unfamiliar with this side of the family, but when I hear people have the same dialect as my father, it’s.. comforting.
When thinking about how my name has shaped me, I can’t say it’s that deep but throughout my life, people had always pronounced my name wrong, “Sam-aira”. I never found myself to correct them because I didn’t feel the need to, but now I feel a distinct difference when someone calls me “Sam-aira” rather than “Sam-ah-ra”. Whenever someone says my name true to its pronunciation, it feels so strange because I’m only so used to my parents and family calling me that name. Almost as if they were two different kinds of names, that’s why I highly prefer when my close friends call me “Sam” because it hits home, it’s no different than the way my parents had called me. Because “Sam” or “Sam-ah-ra” is apart of my identity, associated with everything I’ve grown up with. The foods my dad would cook at home, pelau, curry, chicken adobo.. the countless karaoke my mom and uncle would sing, etc..
I love Pelau! There was a great Filipino restaurant in Portland OR that several of us used to gather together and go to for Pelau and other things of course like Halo Halo (yum!). One thing you said that really caught my attention was “anak” and how that gives you so much comfort even if you don’t really speak Tagalog. Amazing what power words/names have! BTW, maybe I’ll just call you “Sam” ;-).