Dear Filipina/o American graduate,
I see you.
At the end of my first tenure track year at San Francisco State University, it was you that reminded me that I’m exactly where I need to be. No matter how long and hard the journey has been just to get here and how much harder it’ll be to stay here, you reminded me that I not only belong at State but that I have so much to look forward to.
As you all walked across the stage yesterday at Fil Grad, I, alongside my amazing Filipina/Filipino colleagues at SFSU had the honor and privilege to shake your hand, hug you and bid you our deepest congratulations, sending you on your way to your next chapter.
And you gave me life.
Mostly because when you crossed the stage, I had the most beautiful view: your family and friends screaming at the top of their lungs, holding up their homemade banners, blow up pictures of your face and vinyl tarps made from the Philippines with “Congrats [your name here].” They were/are so proud.
You, the beautiful Queer Pinxy flawless in your gender non-conforming everything. Your singing voice clearly marking the moments in the program as yours with your unabashed talent.
You, the MA graduate with your extra special knowledge and extra special years behind your name. You braved the whole, “you’re going back to school question?” from your family and came out winning.
You, the hot-cheeto-Christmas-lights-paper-origami-lei wearing Pinoy donning the weight of the world and your homemade decor on your shoulders.
You, fly Pinay with your make up on fleek and heels, a set of gold fronts to boot, just so so fly with your degree in hand.
You, the ones who had a little choreo prepared, strutting on stage to Mac Dre or E40. Pop po’ your collar, bounce-walkin’ like only Bay Area bred cats can on the way to collect your diploma. Reppin’ you and the Bay so. Damn. Hard.
And even, you, the Filipina/o grad who didn’t walk the stage yesterday at Fil Grad–I see you.
You, the ones who filed into ATT park to experience the big shebang. Remembering it through an Instastory, Snap or FB filter. Sending a text to me with fellow Filipino/a students to let me know exactly what time it is.
Thank you. Thank you for shining.
Yesterday, was my first Fil Grad back at State. Last time, I was graduating just like you. The road ahead unbeknownst to me. But like you, I had the world to win.
I’ll have plenty more Fil Grads but yesterday, I want to remember just how beautiful, brilliant and full of potential you are. I hope you have a good celebration and then also remember to #StandwithMarawi and make sure you join the rest of us to say #NeverAgaintoMartialLaw. Because we need you. Your spirit and your will.