Pauline De Leon

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Pauline Mae De Leon – Travel Blogger

Hey there Third Culture readers! My name is Pauline Mae De Leon. I’m 20 years old and I was born and raised in the bustling city of Hong Kong.

I’m currently studying Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature at Hong Kong Baptist University. Over the past few years I’ve interned and contributed for a variety of local and international media companies, as well as run my very own blog.

“What is home to me? Where is home for me?”

To give you the gist of what my ethnicity is, both my parents were born and bred in the Philippines. My mom being from Quezon City, Manila and my dad from Gapan, Nueva Ecija. They moved to Hong Kong during the 90s because fortunately enough my mom got accepted to work as a flight attendant for Cathay Pacific.

So yes, I was born and raised here in Hong Kong; every so often it’s hard to explain to some people where I’m really from. What is home to me? Where is home for me?

Thanks to my mom’s career, we’re lucky enough to travel back and forth to the Philippines at least twice or three times a year as a family.

Growing up, my parents made sure that I at least knew the basics of our traditions back home. How Easter and Christmas are the most important festivities for our culture (and religion), who José Rizal was, being told the most outrageous superstitions like “Trying on your wedding dress prior to your wedding day will cost you your life/is bad luck”, and how rice is life.

On the other hand, I would say that I’m a Hongkonger because I was in fact born here and I’ve adapted to the culture. Despite me not knowing Cantonese fluently, in other ways I would still consider myself a “local”. I mean, I’m a local student enrolled into a government funded university. I eat local food. The MTR is my life. I have local friends. I’ve been to every possible tourist spot and hidden gems within the city. I have a Hong Kong passport. How much more local can I get?

I add, ‘I’m Filipino’, not only to avoid the ‘but where are you really from?’ question, but because I’m proud that I am.”

Whenever someone from here asks me where I’m from, I say “I was born and raised in Hong Kong, but I’m Filipino”. I add “I’m Filipino” not only to avoid the “but where are you really from?” question, but because I’m proud that I am. I want people to know what my ethnicity is.

Going back to the Philippines is another story. I would say that I’m from Hong Kong. Period. Honestly, I feel like a foreigner when I’m back in Manila and I can always sense that they know I’m not really “from” there. But I love it there. It’s a way to de-stress and just eat and eat and eat until your clothes go a size up. 

So really, I don’t know where home is but I’m comfortable in Hong Kong at the moment. At the same time, I can’t really call the Philippines home because the longest I’ve stayed was no more than a month. I wouldn’t settle here though because I definitely need a change of scenery and pace. Home to me, (as cliché as this is going to sound) isn’t a place but it’s a feeling. No matter where I am in the world, as long as I have my loved ones with me, I call that home.

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