I am Filipino. I was born in the Philippines on September 19, 1969. When I was just a year old, my father, having enlisted in the United States Navy, led my mom and I stateside to pursue a better life. At the time, it was just the three of us. Now, I have two younger sisters. This is my family.
After having watched "The Debut," I can't help but relate to the events that occurred and reflect on the issues brought up in the film. "The Debut" is the story about the struggle of a young Filipino trying to find himself amidst pressure from family and his own personal desires. He is a Filipino. But he has grown up in America. When I think about Filipino culture and Filipinos living in the United States, two things come to mind: culture and identity.
The film illustrates the sense of duty in the Filipino family. As a Filipino, one is expected to know one's place. You are expected to contribute to the family's well-being. You are supposed to respect your elders abide by their wishes.
In the film, Ben lives with his family in a home filled with the trappings of a traditional Filipino household: giant wooden spoon and fork and a barrelman. Even the smell of rice lingers in the house. Ben is surrounded by Filipino culture and values when he is at home. However, he himself is in a different world. Ben's closest friends are not Filipino, but a Mexican and a white. Ben's values are not the Filipino values of family, duty and selflessness. He values individuality and freedom. Ben's father would rather use hard-earned money for his children's benefit than buy himself a new car. Because of his sacrifices for the family, he feels Ben is obligated to do as he says and become a doctor rather than an artist. Ben's father wants only to provide a window of opportunity for his children to pursue a better life.
I understand how Ben felt when his father was against him becoming an artist. Growing up, I can remember how my...