By Asther Bascuna Creo
There’s something to be said about being an edge dweller or a boundary seeker. Many of us have this experience – coming to Australia from another country, we arrive taking the unstable steps of a migrant, with no ready groups or tribe to take us in under their wings. And so for a time, we find our weekends too vacant, and the big laughs customary of the Filipino humour too scant, too far in between.
Through time though we are able to establish our relationships, and for us, Filipinos, attending the weekend dance parties where we take to centre stage to join the line dancing becomes almost a rite of passage. There we are one of the throngs doing the wiggly dance and the repetitive steps of some silly song we wouldn’t otherwise listen to in the car radio.
Perhaps it is at that point that many of us feel we now belong.
We Filipinos love company, and in many of my train rides, I witness clumps of us huddled together during the morning commute, exchanging whispered gossips or commiserating about spending another day at the office. I am glad of this when I see many of us belong. Belonging to each other, to kapwa Pilipino who understand us best, our longings for the same dishes and the same sunny isles totalling 7,100 (on low tide apparently).
We huddle together, keep together and hang out together. If I attempt at a visual, I can liken us to a black hole in the universe. A star that had shrunk into itself and had become a dense mass. There is nothing wrong with such a phenomenon, only that it’s part of the life of the universe. As Filipinos who are part of this universe, we too clump together in a dense mass, absorbed unto ourselves. Living a life rich in our own culture, preserved in our common experience, inward-dwelling and intense. This has been us for a time.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of learning from social media that we held our Philippine Street Fiesta at Victoria Market, inviting one in all in a free event showcasing our culture to mainstream Australian culture. I thought to myself, this is a step towards leaving the edges, and breaking free from a self-imposed blackhole. A step away from the fringes. Abandoning the spaces from the boundaries to take a more secure and confident step to centre stage. We are ready to bring our Filipino huddle to a bigger universe and break free from the dense mass in our black hole.
We have a lot to offer, as workers, as community members, as a distinct ethnic group. We are ready to bring our culture to centre stage.