Television history was made last week for Filipino Americans. But, did you know it occurred twice? Last Monday night on the CW, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" introduced Josh's family in the episode, 'My First Thanksgiving with Josh!' where the character Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) spends Thanksgiving with a Filipino family.
Watch the episode on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/watch/871002
This past Friday, I watched the NBC comedy, "Truth Be Told" for the first time. I already knew that Vanessa (Minnillo) Lachey was in it. I knew of her when I was with E! Entertainment when she was a finalist in E!'s competition to replace Brooke Burke as host of "Wild On" in 2007. I didn't know she was an actress so I was curious in this new formula, yet diverse sitcom.
As much as I was celebrating "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," the episode of "Truth Be Told" was a long time coming. In that, I never saw the subject presented on television before -- and it was a subject, a personal subject where I spent most of my life denying being a Filipino.
I don't speak for those who came to the U.S. as children and decided to deny who they are because, in my opinion, that is an impossible task. They speak Tagalog and carry traits that are specific to the culture. Not me. It may have begun when my parents only spoke and taught us English to my siblings and I when we were born in Chicago, Illinois. Our only language is still English. And, even though, I spent twelve combined summer & Christmas vacations and lived one year in the Philippines, and joined Filipino Clubs from childhood to college, I still didn't accept my Filipino culture. I only saw it as a novelty. It was just there when I needed it. Through those years, I got used to the denial and created a monster. To the point, being an "American-Filipino" or a "Vanillapino" was to my benefit. Every corporate employment or job I had, I was promoted 100% of the time because the promotion required I speak to clients. But, truthfully, I knew my skills and my experience got me those promotions.
I remember back in the late 1990s to the early 2000s, there was this popular wave happening that anything Filipino was trendy and hip. It all started with "The Debut" directed by Gene Cajayon. And, even though that was the first time I saw a Filipino character rejecting his Filipino heritage against his immigrant parents on celluloid film, the episode below was a first for TV but, this time, it's a first generation American-born Filipina mother, the parent, who has rejected her culture her entire life -- only to embrace it later when her daughter rejects her Filipino Barbie doll down to stereotypical and almost derogatory societal terms. That hit below the belt...to even hearing a kid say that. I'm pretty sure I said it myself when I was ignorant.
Since the last decade, I have embraced the culture...but that doesn't mean I will sit down and learn how to speak Tagalog again... I mean how do you speak the language without developing stuttering and drool? I tried it. It was messy.
Watch the episode on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/watch/874150#i0,p0,d0