Little Lessons On Becoming Filipino: Ninang Status Unlocked
Since going 'all in' to life in the Philippines I have felt a strong connection to our new homeland. Our living here isn't just a stint or a passing through but an active choice to live life here. I fee so comfortable here, in fact, I often feel like I was made to live here. My whole life was a preparation to love life in Manila. Perhaps in a past life I was even Filipina, joke lang. But seriously, I grew up in warm weather and then went to university on Oahu. I got used to cockroaches, year long summers and the famous motto, rice is life! Beyond that, I attended an international university that had a high enrollment of Filipino students. The makings of my Foreignay life had begun!
A few years later I found myself in Manila. I haven’t always loved living in the Philippines but overtime I have fallen hard. Inevitably our time to leave the Philippines will come, that thought haunts me with a flood of tears. The Philippines has been our home, by choice. We have created a family here and this is all we know as the Folkman Five. When people say, ‘Does your family miss home?’ It’s funny because our family has never lived anywhere but Manila, this is our home.
While the Philippines is home there is a sadness I often feel because I have no familial ties here. I am ok living out of my home country of The U.S. because I have relatives and family there whom I can always return to visit. The Philippines is different, I don’t have that emotional security. Yes, I have many Filipino friends who have become like family but there is an inherent difference. However, recently I was gifted my everlasting connection to the Philippines, my Ninang status has been unlocked!
Kawawa Jacob has mixed emotions about me becoming his godmother.
Recently, I had the privilege of becoming a Ninang (Godmother) to Jacob. I met Baby Jacob when he was just a few months old. While doing some volunteer work on Smokey Mountain I was lucky enough to become friends with his mother, Romela. She was so easy to talk with as we discussed our kids ages and stage of motherhood we are both in, we immediately clicked as friends. She is a super dedicated mother as you can see by how healthy and chubby Jacob was. Nakakagigil!
I was able to be a part of a project that took photos of the families on Smokey Mountain. Romella was kind enough to let us use her home for the photo backdrop over the 5 weeks long project.
Since then Romela and I have stayed in contact over the year. We have seen each other every few months and stayed in contact over Facebook. I was touched when she asked last December if I would be one of Jacob’s Ninangs. I had no idea what this all would entail and it has been a beautiful life lesson. I feel connected to Romela Jacob and their family, they have given me the gift of a familial connection. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of Jacob’s binyag and now a privilege to make sure he is spoilt every Christmas. :) I love Filipino culture and have learned a new aspect of it through this experience. I am so fortunate.
Jacob’s blessing day was a serious cultural experience. I am religious but I am not Catholic so I had no idea how the blessing works and it was fascinating, not to mention it was all in Tagalog! I was able to sit with Romela and all the other Godparents and extended family as we sat up and down and repeated what the priest said. I am sure I looked like a complete idiot but I reveled in the novelty of the cultural and religious experience.
I was terrified I might drop the burning candle at one point. Has that happened to anyone?
The happy family
Jacob and his Ninongs
The binyag was held at the Sta. Nino de Tondo Parish. I had been to Tondo but never the church, Philippine churches are so remarkable as the Tondo Church is one of the most impressive I have seen.
After a wonderful blessing the whole group, around 20 family members and friends, walked across the street to feast at Mang Inasal, that place is so good by the way! I love how friendly Filipinos are, we were instantly talking and getting to know each other with such ease. My new friends taught me how make the tsili and toyo sauce and eat with my hands. I swear food tastes better when you can eat with your hands!
I may not be Filipino by blood but I am fortunate enough na to have a Godson and feel a closeness with Romella and Jacob. Thank you for entrusting me with this responsibilty, I look forward to life long blessings together. I am so fortunate to have these life experiences in the Philippines. Pilipinas, you are so good to me!