In July 2015, the Bayanihan Foundation enabled a new generation of Filipino Americans to “return” to the Philippines for the first time. The next three posts feature the personal reflections and experiences of the NEXTGEN Fellows that traveled to the Philippines. Jane Baron shares her personal reflections of on building a bond with her homeland:
“When I first received an e-mail from the Bayanihan Foundation in May 2015 about a trip to the Philippines, I jumped on the opportunity so that I can finally return home after 10 years. At that time, I was still unsure why I wanted to go, but my gut told me to apply. After I found out that I was one of the recipients of the NEXTGEN scholarship, I was ecstatic, but nervous. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and I didn’t know what to expect.
It was only during the end of my Pagbabalik (Coming Home) trip did the reason why I applied became clear. I remember the moment so vividly. I was in church with my Lola (grandma) and pinsan (cousin) listening to a Kapangpangan (Pampanga language) sermon. My Lola was fanning her two apos (grandchildren): my 7-year old cousin and the 23-year old me. At that moment, I started to tear up because I realized that I didn’t get the experience that most grandchildren received from their grandparents. I grew up separated from my Lola, my pinsans, and my Titos & Titas (aunts & uncles). My parents separated themselves from the rest of our family in order to give them a better life in the Philippines. It was also at that moment when I realized that the different communities in the Philippines and in the U.S. are all trying to achieve the same mission. We are all trying to fight for our right to exist in our homeland. In the communities that we visited with the Bayanihan Foundation, families and individuals were advocating to keep their homes safe from being invaded by the government, foreigners, and people who had the power and money to buy their land. Meanwhile in the U.S., the diaspora is working hard to make the homeland a place where immigrating is no longer needed to find opportunities because resources are available at home.
It’s been a month since I got back, but I’m still processing everything that happened on this trip. When family or friends ask how my return home was, it becomes difficult for me to express and articulate my visit. In simple terms, I spent time with different communities in the Philippines and family. We shared food, exchanged stories, learned from each other, and built community. But the bond we formed cannot be explained in words; it has to be felt and experienced.”
I’m asking you to donate to the Foundation’s Indiegogo fundraising campaign:http://igg.me/at/bayanihan so that young Filipino Americans like Jane Baron can have opportunities to reconnect with their homeland, learn the importance of “reaching back” to help others, and gain a larger sense of their responsibilities in the world. Through NEXTGEN they will learn about the foundation’s sustainable projects and learn to develop their own potential sustainable projects. Your contribution will enable us to bring more and more of the next generation of Filipinos back to the Philippines, where they will continue these projects. Maraming salamat po!