red line

The author and her Ilocana mother enjoying the ocean waves in Sydney

The author and her Ilocana mother enjoying the ocean waves in Sydney

By Alex Brown

I will never forget seeing the rolling of the forests. It was a sea of green, and as we carved through I realised that this scenery, and this nature, was not foreign to me. When we first moved to New Zealand my parents would take me on countless road trips, and as an only child this would mean hours of this same activity. It was here a wave started to rise in my body.

My intention for this trip was to better understand my mother, from a culture and people and place, different from the one I know. But as I watched the trees glide past me and felt the tension building at my neck, I started to focus on not the differences but the similarities surrounding me. She would have looked out at a view like this many times. Did she also use the time to reflect upon her life and ideas like I do? I thought of everything I’ve felt, and dreamt, when I’m lost in thought, and I thought about the lessons I’ve learnt on my own. The little joys and frustrations that I’ve had as a girl becoming a woman, and I saw my mother with the same laugh and furrow in her brow.

Also, alone. I saw her contemplating her future. Did she also have the same amount of raw determination but equal amount of confusion for the abundance of aspirations she held? When she thought of the family that she might have one day, how much love did she think they would give her? Did she think about the connection she might have had with her mother? I think about my own hopes and expectations for the future, and I imagine they are similar to hers. I desperately want to have been enough for the girl I think of, I wish I could have understood and made her happy, I want to go back in time and give my mother her dreams, but as the wave hits my eyes, I realise I haven’t and I can’t.

‘I want to go back in time and give my mother her dreams…’

‘I want to go back in time and give my mother her dreams…’

Now that I’m home, I look through some of her old photos and I feel so far away. I watch as she explores new countries, gets her first office job, meets the love of her life, and I hope she is happy at how it all turned out. I want to know more, and I think less about wanting to understand her, and more about accepting her for who she is and walking beside her on her journey. She is not an enigma that I need to study to understand. She is a human, she is a woman, she is my mother.

Like finding a rope in the dark, I feel as if this connection to her has allowed me to find the path to a part of me that I had always closed off. On the other side of guilt, shame and wasted opportunity, I find comfort in the laughter that I save for those situations of uncontrollable hilarity, an understanding of the physical touch I am unafraid of, and a home for the parts of myself that I’ve always felt are ‘too much.’

So, for this I thank my mother. A woman who I neglected to appreciate was the woman that fed me, clothed me, that gave up her career for me, gave up her family for my own opportunity, that climbed so much higher and harder for her success, and I am what she has to show for it. It is a privilege, that I’ll never forget again, to be your daughter.

Alexandra Brown is a 22-year-old Filipino-British woman who was born in the UK, grew up in New Zealand and now lives in Sydney, Australia. Her father is from England, and her mother was born and raised in Ilocos Norte, Philippines. She is currently working as an HR Coordinator with an ultimate goal of being as impactful as possible, by realising potential and bringing people together. A recent visit to the Philippines, through Diskubre Tour, inspired her to write this piece about her mother from one “privileged to be your daughter.”

© The FilAm 2018

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