Julienne Pancho – Who Am I and Where am I Really From?

“Who am I and Where Am I Really From?”

Julienne Pancho

Self-introductions have never been easy for me or for anyone really. All of a sudden I’ve forgotten who I am, where I’m really from, the things I love, and whatever else trails along. The essentials remain, however: I’m Julienne, and I’ve just turned 19. Oh, and I’m Filipino – or at least that’s the easiest way of putting it. 

In spite of my parents’ ethnicity being primarily Filipino, my great-grandfather from my mother’s side came from a small province in China, while my grandfather from my father’s side inherited heavy Spanish blood. I’ve never admitted to it, but my father always said I was more than just Filipino, Spanish, and Chinese. On top of it all, I’ve spent half my life in a country I’m no native to: Hong Kong. That just amplifies my problem doesn’t it? Where really is ‘home’? 

“To be blatantly rational, home is in fact, wherever I am.”

To be blatantly rational, home is in fact, wherever I am. The predicament began when I tweeted twice within one week that I “wanted to go home”; the first of which I was referring to my home in Bicol, Philippines, and the second time, my apartment in Hong Kong. That’s just part of the life Third Culture Kids lead. 

You could almost consider my parents as TCK as well! Having been exposed to the harsh, ‘tough love’ values of their Spaniard and Chinese grandparents, to absorbing mainstream 2000s Manila culture to learning to adapt to the fast life of Hong Kong. 

“How was I supposed to choose between my Philippine home and my Hong Kong home?”

The harder part of being a TCK comes with filling up forms. I was yet again faced with the same home-dilemma while filling in my university application form and it inquired for my “permanent address”. How was I supposed to choose between my Philippine home and my Hong Kong home?

Nevertheless, I don’t see why there’s been this constant need to invalidate the upsides of being Third Culture. If anything, being a TCK offers you an extensive experience to the life you were meant to live. I’ve spent the first half of my life in the Philippines, and now after 9 long years of living in Hong Kong, I’m going to be spending the next 3-5 years in Brisbane, Australia to pursue my dreams of being a part of the international film industry. 

What eases me with the whole leaving-moving process is knowing that however unenlightened I am with my supposed principal, Filipino culture, I carry with me the passion and admiration for a handful of other customs, lifestyles, and traditions, I’ve had the unparalleled pleasure of being accustomed to. 

The ever-so-persistent want we all bear to belong somewhere or to something prevents the true extent of our souls. The same souls which have managed to encapsulate so much ingenuity among culture over culture. 

“‘Home’ doesn’t have to be limited to the ancestral ethnicity you hold.”

‘Home’ doesn’t have to be limited to the ancestral ethnicity you hold. You are not rootless, and neither are you bounded by the traditions of what you define as ‘home’. Let the cultures that surround you shape who you are. Let that be your kind of home; because like they say, home is where the heart is. 

And I am my own home.

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