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American by birth, Filipino at heart

 By Danielle Mangabat

“Go Pinoy!” People cheer me on as I cross the finish line of a triathlon race, exhausted but happily waving the Philippine flag.

I proudly bear our Motherland’s colors: red, white and blue on my team uniform of the FilAmTri Club. This is a sporting club formed by Filipino Americans who enjoy swimming, biking and running and whose vision is to foster unity among Filipino Americans and instill pride in our identity.

We are Filipinos born here or even transplanted to the United States embracing what is new to us, but drawing strength from our distinctively Filipino vein of nationalism.

As a 10-year-old born and raised in New Jersey, I consider myself as having the best of both worlds. I have all the opportunities and means to experience all that America has to offer, complemented by the rich culture and solid foundation and backing as only a Filipino family can provide.

Every chance I get to showcase my Philippine roots, I seize. I participate in my school’s cultural shows wearing a “baro at saya,” which is a Filipina’s dress. I truly enjoy our Philippine cuisine and delicacies which I expose my friends to. “Pansit” and “polvoron” are my favorites. I bring back stories punctuated by pictures of my travels to the Philippines, always stating the fact that our 7,100 islands are full of adventure and diversity.

I am proud to be who I am. An American by birth, but with a strong and steadily beating Filipino heart.

(Danielle Mangabat, 10, of Millburn, New Jersey won the “I am Filipino American’essay contest organized by The Filipino School of New York & New Jersey. She received a gift basket during an award ceremony November 5 at the Paccal Neighborhood Center in Jersey City).

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