I met a Filipino couple who’s been here more than 20 years, with two kids, 11 and 8, both speaking fluent French, as if there was no trace of Filipino in their tongues.

I don’t want to be 50 when my kid is 10. I don’t want to be telling them to stop using the iPad whilst there are visitors around when I don’t even understand how an iPad works — an analogy of how the gap would make it harder for me to connect with my child because of the pace of our times. I wondered too when they would start enjoying their life. The kids still have a long way to go before school is over for them. How old will their parents be by then? This is not what I envisioned overseas Filipino families to look like in Europe, let alone Paris.

Before meeting them, we had a good laugh whilst trying to park the van along the street. It happened like this:

Obviously we had to park the van near the apartment of the couple. While the driver, a friend of my sister’s, was parking the van carefully, there was an Asian guy gesturing to us as if to direct us where and how to park properly. Then my brother in law blurted out nonchalantly, “Who’s this Chinese guy assisting us as if we were eating at his Chinese restaurant?”

Then one of us responded, “Eh tito ko yan eh.” (That’s my uncle!) 

We laughed so hard our chests would explode, guffawing to over our hearts’ content! It was horribly good!

Then we opened the van to meet face to face this “Chinese” uncle, and imagine how we struggled trying to contain ourselves!

On the way up the apartment, we could already smell sinigang na baboy. The couple spoke (the husband is the “Chinese”) in Ilokano.

This was Paris but their humble abode was a Filipino home no doubt — Christmas tree adorned, little stuff that clutter the sala, Hello Kitty items lying around, framed photos of family members, floral lacy curtains, even Sony VHS players seemingly accumulating dusts but nonetheless displayed.

It’s heartwarming and delightful to see families reunite. You could feel they were excited to have visitors they didn’t want this time to end because, well, no one knows of the next time.


Virgin Enthroned with Angels by Cimabue at Louvre


*This is part of a 68-Day Travel Diary called Reflections of a Nearly Thirty. Read the full Reflections Series here.

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. […] Portrait of a Filipino family in Paris […]


  2. […] also met Filipino families living in these foreign lands and realised that, wherever you are in the world, you’re kind of inclined to go back to who […]



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About hellopenville

Writing is my one true north. (The other is eating spaghetti. I make the best pastas in the whole world I swear!) I have been writing since age 10. I remember being in another school a lot because of Campus Journalism contests. I was a grade-school copyreader, headline-writer, and feature writer, who emerged to be a college editorial writer and eventually a TV news writer. However, I have always been an insecure artist. These constant condescending thoughts always stopped me from creating: “No one would read this.” “This has been written before and therefore no one would read this.” “This is not interesting enough and therefore no one would read this.” “This is not relevant, or factual, or trendy enough and therefore no one would read this.” But I learned to risk to write even if no one reads it, than not to have written anything at all. To resist writing is to resist truth itself, to betray that which comes freely to you when you do not allow it to be manifested through you. I didn’t think writing was serious work. But every time I thought about writing, it would make me nervous. It would rattle me and frighten me. I would shake the ground under me. Aren’t dreams like that too? Read more at penville.net.


France, Travel, Travel Reflections Series (3 months in Europe)


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