Abundance is in my blood.
I come with so much wisdom from my ancestors. This month is Filipinx American History Month. It is no accident that this is the month I unraveled something entirely new about my ancestors, specifically my Lola Nanay (translated as grandmother).
What my own mother has told me about her upbringing in the Philippines is that she grew up in poverty and that her mother would always make sure her kids were fed before feeding herself. She watched her own mother go days without eating a meal. She shared with me that her mother worked so hard to provide. She glamorized her mother martyring herself.
“She always put other's first,” she'd say.
She never shared with me what my Lolo Tatay (grandfather) did. Just that they all experienced extreme poverty.
I want to give a trigger warning to this next part.
My mother told me my Lola Nanay died because she fell down the stairs. It's quite excruciating. My mother was the one who found her, and she embracing my Lola Nanay in her arms and held her as she died.
She told me that while she was holding her, she could feel how weak she was after all those days she went without eating food. She carried this guilt around with her, and this has showed up in how she has moved through her own life and financial wellbeing.
I'm not here to talk about my mother's story. That will be for another time.
About two weeks ago, I had dinner with my cousin. We started talking about our family and she shared with me an entirely different story about my Lola Nanay.
“She was a complete and total bad ass. When her father died, she became the matriarch of the family. She managed all the finances, hustled hard, and worked at incredible jobs at the university and even for a famous politician!”
My Lola was also kidnapped by Philippine rebels because she was the only person who knew the code to the politician's safe - which was filled with money. They tied her up against a coconut tree, threatened to kill her if she didn't give up the code, and guess what?
Total. Bad. Ass. She luckily was rescued!
She also shared that she married my Lolo Taytay, who was also a wealthy man and came from a wealthy family. (They owned a mango farm)
I don't know the entire story about him. What I do know is that he never worked a day in his life due to his inheritance, and he ended up spending all the money, leaving his own family with nothing.
I found this interesting, because while my cousin did share our family did experience extreme poverty - it was not always like that.
My Lola held down the fort for her own siblings and then, her own children. She was abused by her father, who she also watched abuse her own mother. Inspite of all of that…
She was incredibly resilient.
I share this story because there is so much wisdom here.
I could take this story and internalize the poverty they all experienced (this is what my mother did) and make it into my identity.
Or, I could take this story and embrace the wisdom.
The wisdom that my ancestors were also abundant at a time. They were also incredibly bad ass and GOOD with money. They were smart, resilient, and resourceful. If my Lola embodied this at a time in her life, I know that it came from a long maternal line of incredible human beings.
Abundance is in my blood. Resilience is in my blood. Royalty is in my blood.
I could not be more proud to be Filipinx. I feel very grateful to be learning (and unlearning) the things my ancestors experienced and carried with them.
I invite you to get curious about your own ancestors and your lineage. Learn about your history. Yes, understanding trauma (i.e. poverty) is important. But also, understanding wisdom is too.
I would absolutely love to hear about what you find. Just hit the reply button on this email.
Thank you for being in kapwa with me. In my language, it means the unity of the ‘self’ and ‘others’.
What a beautiful space that is.