My story featured in OFWorld - Juan in E.U
Just wanted to thank the team behind OFWorld which is a very inspiring newspaper featuring the stories of Pinoys around the world and also news from back home in the Philippines. They published a magazine earlier this year which I was honoured to be a part of, here is my story:
I am a Britishman with a Filipino heart. I love the Philippines with a passion. Its funny to think that as a young boy, I didnt know anything about it, nor have I heard anything about its people and its culture. But that all changed in my teenage years.
I had an interest in theatre and attended the Mountview Theatre School for three years. I went to see many musicals during that time, including Starlight Express and Time. At that period I also discovered Miss Saigon, which I saw almost on a weekly basis. I had a secret crush on one of the actresses who played Kim, The well known and very talented Philippine actress, Monique Wilson. I quickly realised that the majority of the cast were also Filipino, including Lea Salonga, Pinky Amador, Junix Inocian and Cocoy Laurel.
I started listening to Pinoy music tapes and the first record I had was in fact by Monique Wilson. At around the age of 19, I travelled to the Philippines to meet Monique herself and I fell in love with the country and all things Pinoy. This is how my love affair with the Philippines began.
A few years later, in my late 20s, I was introduced to a Filipina, Susan with whom I fell in love with. We have been married for 14 years now and have two lovely children.
I believe that if you marry someone from another culture, you should respect that culture and even help to promote it. Marriage is about sacrifice and commitment. I really dont understand the point in a foreigner or in my case, a British person, marrying a Pinoy and still only eating British foods, never wanting to visit the Philippines, and in some cases not even allowing Tagalog to be spoken at home. I understand that some people may not like hot weather or exotic food, but if you love someone, you need to show that through your actions.
It is something I impart to my own children and family to embrace not only their Britishness, but also their Filipino heritage. We have visited the Philippines many times, and I have even encouraged my British mother to visit the country, and I am proud to say she has been there three times.
Together with my family, I try to immerse myself in Philippine culture even in the UK. I have tried to learn Tagalog, with which I am now conversational, able to understand and speak some words and phrases. We also have TFC (The Filipino Channel) at home where we watch Filipino movies and television programs. I also created an online website to list events relevant to the international Filipino community. I attend many UK events myself, and have also been involved in various organisations and initiatives, from educational charity Philippine Generations, to the biggest Filipino event in Europe, Barrio Fiesta sa London.
Having been part of the Filipino community for several years, I urge Pinoys around the world to continue to work hard for their families back home, and to continue to show the Philippines in a positive light on the global stage. It is through the millions of overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) around the world, with their hard work and commitment that the Philippines can be proud of its people.
I am truly honoured to be counted as a member of this community. I am a Pinoy at heart, with great respect, love and understanding of the Philippines and its people.
Malcolm Conlan was born and raised in England. An active leader of the Filipino community in the United Kingdom, he runs Fil-Event.com, a website dedicated to Filipino-related events and initiatives from around the world. He lives in London with his Filipina wife and their two children