I was born and raised in America. (Born in Kansas and raised in Louisiana, to be exact.) There weren’t many Filipinos in my school. I’ve never shared a classroom with one in my life, except maybe in college, where classes were too big to notice. But when I was a little girl, I noticed. Believe me. You always notice when you’re the Other.

From my experience, people approach Otherness in one of two ways: They’re either super-proud or super-embarrassed.

Unfortunately, I was the latter.

Because I wanted blue eyes and blonde hair, I chose to ignore the Filipino part of my identity. It wasn’t until I got older (and yes, wiser) that I appreciated my heritage. That’s when I started to ask my mother questions. What was it like when you were growing up? What kinds of things did kids do? What were the schools like? Were you scared when you came to America? What was it like when you first came here?

(Thankfully, it’s never too late to learn more about where you came from. I don’t care if you’re 30-*cough-cough* like me, or 101.)

When Filipino poet Barbara Jane Reyes shared 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Filipino Myths and Legends on her FB page recently, I realized yet again how much I have to learn about my background. All the stories. All the legends. All the tales! I know of Rip Van Winkle, but not of Pina. I’ve heard of Poseiden, but not Magwayen.

So, the link was right: I didn’t know any of those five things.

But I know now.