I am my father’s daughter

Marvel Comics top from Samuel and Kevin Beijing; Blue jeggings from Uniqlo Beijing; Knitted cream-colored jacket from H&M Xiamen; Brown platform sandals from taobao.com

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I think it isn’t everyday that you can tell or show someone that you are your parents’ child. You can look like your mom or dad, speak like them or dress like them, but having interests or personalities similar to them is something I think is different altogether.

As a child, I often felt out-of-place in my household because I felt like I didn’t look like my siblings. Growing up, I felt that there were 2 things that connected me to my parents – my handwriting and my interest with languages. The first one is easy enough, my handwriting both in script and print is either very similar or is influenced by my parents handwriting. Even the way I write in Chinese is influenced by my dad’s style. The other is what some people may call a penchant for languages.Watching television often enough, copying accents was something that I liked doing, listening to my parents’ speak in their dialects was another.

Growing up in a household where you hear so many languages being spoken, it becomes a habit to pick up phrases and words here and there. Cebuano, Ilonggo, English, Tagalog, Mandarin and Hokkien. One of the things I’m thankful for in this South East Asian country where most people speak at least 2 languages. Now that I’m almost 23, and I resemble my father a lot, I can’t help but be thankful that my childhood insecurity in some way encouraged me to learn those languages.

The day after I arrived from Xiamen, mom was scheduled to attend an orientation at my youngest brothers’ school for an upcoming trip to Beijing. Since my dad couldn’t make it, mom would be going alone. She thought that it would be somewhat beneficial if I tagged along since I could maybe help the teachers with my familiarity with Beijing. Despite not getting much sleep, we were at the orientation by 8am. During the talk, I would give mom snippets of comments about some things mentioned in the orientation, like places I had been to or things I’ve experienced. After the talk, she introduced me to my brothers’ teachers and to other people involved in the trip to Beijing. It was interesting being introduced as the daughter who just came back after living for a year in Beijing. I was even introduced to some of the Chinese teachers and we were conversing in Mandarin while my mom just nodded and smiled. But another thing I loved, was how it felt like I belonged and I was starting to take charge as the eldest child.

After that experience, part of me was very much proud of myself for having improved my Mandarin skills. My dad would say I have a long way to go, and I do admit that though I have improved a lot, there is still a lot of things I need to improve on. Deep down, I hope that my dad is proud of  the me that is following in his footsteps. When I was little, I often felt that I was a letdown to my dad, especially since the young me disliked Mandarin. Also, I thought it was because I wasn’t born a boy despite being the eldest…yes call it very old-school Chinese if you want. Now though, a lot of people can say that I am a lot like my dad who speaks a lot of languages, my dad who loves Chinese culture and history and my dad who tries to be the bridge between our relatives here and in China. Though I am unlike my quiet dad and very much like my outgoing and talkative mother, there is no one who can doubt who I am, not even myself. I am my father’s daughter.

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