June is indeed a very significant month for the Filipinos as it marks the commemoration of the 150th birthday of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal and the 113th celebration of the Declaration of the Philippine Independence.
One event that makes it significant was when Filipinos and Filipino Americans gather and march during the Philippine Independence Day Parade at Madison Avenue in New York.
An encounter which really attracts my attention during the parade was, when I saw this white woman, probably in her mid 50’s, about 5’ 7” or so in her black jeans and wearing a colorful “bandana” (A large and brightly colored handkerchief often used as a neckerchief, or as a head dress) and a black t-shirt with that “head turner” caption, “ PUTI ANG BALAT PERO PINOY ANG PUSO.” (White in complexion but Filipino by Heart) I was impressed with that, and admired her of being Filipino by heart when by birth and judging by the color of her skin, , she’s obviously not a Filipino. Everybody was looking at her while she’s taking video and photographs of the parade. Even the contingents of the parade can’t help but stare at her. Some would ask to pose and have a picture with her. She’s a celebrity in her own way!
I was on the other hand, at that time enticed to come near and take a picture of her in a close range and possibly could have talked to her about the embossed print on her shirt. What motivated her to become Filipino by heart? How could possibly Filipino culture and tradition have somehow influenced her life? Why is she doing this?
I caught a sight of her even at the start of the parade but I didn’t get a chance to get closer to her because I was at the other side of the street and with all those spectators flocking to witness the parade, I can’t just cross. Besides, each side of the road were blocked so no one can just move across anytime. When I took photographs of the different contingents of the parade, I was stricken by a scene when I saw her carrying her own video cam taking a video of a cute dog carried by one of the parade participant. She loves dog, I should say. Most importantly, she loves Filipino culture!
I can’t help but observe her and follow what she’s doing. Much to my desire to come closer to her, and talk to her, or even take picture of her, I was in no way able to do that. However, I think she is an amazing woman and I admire her! Whoever she is and for whatever reason there is, I think she is a symbol of a Real Filipino by Heart.
C* June 2011 by Niirmala Devi
(This article was also published for International Tribune, NY. Vol.11 No.25, June 24-30 issue, p.24)