Ten Signs You’re a Filipino in London

Contrary to our parents who see London as a land of opportunity and the fruit of their labours (maraming salamat Mommy and Daddy!), the British capital is coloured a different shade in the eyes of the succeeding generation of Filipinos: us.

And since we’re the generation that’s had exposure to both Filipino and British youth, we’ve picked up things along the way that makes us a hybrid of two cultures, sometimes leading to very funny realisations.

1. You’ve given up the belief that walking everywhere is ridiculous. We grew up taking the tricycle from our house hanggang sa kanto to buy Dunkin Donuts, but we realise that taking public transport everywhere here in London is just impractical, and let’s be honest, you’ve grown to enjoy walking everywhere. I even tried walking home from Putney to Earls Court once and I only 50% regret it.

2. You cross the road the “Filipino” way when the situation calls for it. We have little time to wait for the green man especially when we’re running in “Filipino time” aka telling your friends you were already on the bus twenty minutes ago.

3. You’ve found a stronger sense of love for Filipino food, a type of thirst that your local Filipino store can quench oh so easily. Remember your elementary days when you chose Ferrero over Hany’s Chocolate? Well, the tables have now turned.

4. The same goes for Filipino media. Seriously, I never knew I’d be listening to Spongecola, Estranghero and Maja Salvador today, and for some reason, I don’t regret it! Being homesick from your homeland can only do so much.

5. You know about the fiesta that is Barrio Fiesta. For the Filipino youth in the recent decade, this is the best way to reconnect with both close and distant friends. You know the type, the whole “kita kits sa Barrio? okay!” but you kind of never really do because of the thousands of people in Hounslow. Some friends even use this excuse just to get together, and would later find themselves in a completely different place (yes, that was us Barrio Fiesta ’13 where we spent it near Westminster Bridge. Good times!!!).

#TBT Barrio Fiesta ’12 and all of its glory taken with my BB Curve

6. You’ve had at least one Photo Booth picture, you know, the one in China Town. Even though I had my first one only this year, it still counts. Right? Hi @valombao and @KTineBeatrice!

7. You and your parents constantly had arguments about how you studied back in school because it’s completely different to how they did it in the Philippines. Seriously, we Hurlingham and Chelsea students never had to bring home a textbook or buy a folder to keep our files, because we assumed they were all kept in our teacher’s desk somewhere!

8. You regret catching up with your elementary and high school friends, because you end up looking at their JS and graduation pictures while you, well, you had to revise for your GCSE Statistics exam. But then you comfort yourself by saying that you’ll use your education here to be so rich you can buy every mansion there is back in Manila.

9. You can tell if it’s a Filipino’s first year in London. Yes, it’s the same light blue jeans, white rubber shoes and that I Heart London jumper that was bought on your first trip to Piccadilly Circus. My favourite is when they speak Tagalog loudly amongst themselves when they see us, trying to decipher whether we’re Filipino or not. Welcome to London, kabayan!

10. You REALLY want to go back to the Philippines. The IG posts of Jollibee, Kenny Roger’s and Tokyo Tokyo don’t help. At all.

– Troy

Published by troycabida

Troy Cabida (he/him) is a Filipino poet and producer based in south west London. His recent poems have appeared in TAYO Literary Magazine, harana poetry, MacMillan and bath magg. He is a producer for London open mic night Poetry and Shaah and co-founder of Liwayway Kolektibo, an arts and culture network providing space for UK-based Filipino/a/x creatives. His debut pamphlet, War Dove, was published by Bad Betty Press in 2020. Photo taken by Ray Roberts.

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