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Interviews of Filipino Americans on Campus: Paolo Dionisio

Name: Paolo Dionisio

Class: 2021

Major: Business Admin

Hometown: Sta. Rosa, Laguna


I was born and raised in the Philippines. I was first born in Quezon City and I lived in Manila until I was 6 then I moved to Silang, Cavite/Sta. Rosa, Laguna where I lived until I was 15. We moved because of pollution and because my parents thought that it’d be better to raise their children in a laid back and pollution free environment. After that, I went to boarding school in Japan for 10-12th grade and after that I applied to WLU for college and got in.

Wait, How’d you hear about WLU from japan?

My dad just found it. He was like, “Hey, you should look at this college called Washington & Lee”.

How do you think being a Filipino on this campus affects your exp?

Since I was born and raised in the Philippines and the conditions are better here in terms of education, services and everything, I have more appreciation for what the school does and all the privileges and luxuries we get here so if I was back in the Philippines maybe I wouldn’t have gone to Denmark for study abroad or maybe I would not have opportunities to interact with the local community or all these wonderful professors. In that sense, as a Filipino, it’s a rich experience since I know what it is like on the other side of the world and how it feels here.

Did you want to go to school in america?

Yeah, either the U.S. or Japan.

Is there anything you wish people knew about Filipino culture?

I feel like they have to first take the conscious step in getting to know the culture. For the average person, when you say Filipino culture, nothing comes to mind. Maybe if you say Japan, stereotypical temple, sushi, anime [comes to mind]. But for the Philippines, I’d say take the first step because the Philippines has a very rich history and it’s very over looked. I think we’re different from the other eastern Asians in the sense that we were colonized by Spain then the U.S., then brief spells with Japan so there are a lot of cultures and norms that the Philippines has that makes us unique compared to other Asian cultures.

Is there anything you miss being here?

The food. I really miss the food

Do you have a favorite food?

Sisig, Red Horse beer, leche flan, champorado, kare kare, sopas. I love soup.

Anything else you miss?

Yes, cheap prices. It’s unbeatable. You can get a good meal for like $3 and it’s a complete meal, sometimes with soup and small dessert. And here you need to shell out like $15. There’s more familiarity and warmth to the people but that may be because I identify with them more or because I lived their longer.

Do you have a fav story growing up in the Philippines?

One of the things I liked growing up in the Philippines and living in one of the villages – it was a very social atmosphere you could just stop by another person’s place and it’d be packed in the park and you could see people playing hopscotch or other games outside. It didn’t have to be video games or stuff on PS2 or PS3 it’d just be simple games like tag or patintero (a Filipino children’s game).

Do people ever confuse you as a different race?

Yes, all the time. I think I could count with half of one hand of how many times people have correctly thought I was Filipino. But it’s really weird because the ethnicities/nationalities I get are Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian. Basically all our neighbors. Maybe 2 people have said, “Are you Filipino?” one time I was walking in Chinatown in the Philippines. I was taking a friend from Japan around and walked past some stalls and some vendors came up to me like, “Hey sir, we sell this necklace to you. Only 50 pesos, sir, very cheap, sir” and I was like, “Okay lang po, ate (It’s okay)” and she was like, “Ah, Pilipino ka pala. Pinag-English mo pa ako eh, napanosebleed pa ako. (Oh, you’re Filipino. You made me speak in English, I got a nosebleed, i.e. thinking too hard that you make your nose bleed).” Stuff like that.

Do you still carry traditions that your parents taught you?

Yeah, all the time. It’s not really a Filipino thing, but I have a pack of plastic bags from Walmart. I never dispose plastic bags because maybe I’ll need them and then keeping my room clean. It’s funny because at home my room is messy but here it’s clean. I don’t know about that. For every meal in the Philippines I’d always eat soup and I’d try to do that here too. That’s a family thing we do, at every meal we have soup. Sometimes it’d be western soup like clam chowder or mushroom soup and sometimes it’d be miso soup or tinola or sinigang. I try to do that here too.

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