Catholic & Filipina
Post 1/4 Hey y’all! I’m Krista Corbello, a Filipino-American speaker, activist, and artist in Los Angeles. My day job is in digital communications, and my background is in nonprofit communications, ministry, and education. I am pursuing my M.S. in Psychology at Divine Mercy University, am the founders of @EvenThisWay and @friendshipexplored, and the president of Rehumanize International. Raised in South Louisiana, I love the joie de vivre! In my free time, I am either planning my next party, writing a song, or going to Disneyland. I have many roles, but my favorites are godmother, daughter, sister, and friend.
Growing up Filipino-American (and especially being a second-generation immigrant) was an experience I shared with few people in south Louisiana. Some of the ways I interacted with my heritage was when someone else commented on it, questioned me about it, or in worst case scenarios, bullied me or my mom for it.
I was a perpetual “new kid,” going to a handful of schools before even getting to high school. I remember going to a new school in fourth-grade; I was nicknamed “Chinese girl” and asked if I ate cats and dogs. In ninth grade, a senior often said to me in the band hall, “Hey Eggroll, when are you going to make me some eggrolls?” Even as a graduate student and barista, a guest asked me if I was born in the States, if my parents were naturalized, following up these inappropriate questions by saying he was a former profiler and that I “didn’t meet the usual specs.”
All of these things are simple examples of a lifetime where I learned this: I had to make fun of my own heritage so that people would know that it didn’t bother me if they did it, too. It felt like the only way to be comfortable in my own skin. Not only did I struggle with the way I looked based on the cultural blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty standards, but I also didn’t meet the usual expectations of what my classmates thought an Asian student should be like: smart, good at math and/or computers, introverted. I’ve even had friends say within the last year or so, “Oh wow, I totally forgot that you were Filipino.”
I think everyone knows how it feels to be left out. For me, I felt fundamentally “other” for being Filipino.
My first taste of Filipino community was at a Catholic Women’s Leadership Conference conference, the GIVEN Forum. At a social hour, I met two wonderful new friends. Women were running up to the stage to gather small groups for pictures, “Everyone from California, let’s take a picture!” for example. Eventually, someone called “all Asian-Americans meet at the photobooth!” And that’s where I met Carmel and Candice. We maintained our friendship from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast, having zoom call gatherings to chat about life, faith, and family (before it was cool!)
I also recently connected with some long-lost family since moving to Southern California, and with it, I made a newfound connection with my Filipino roots. Living in Los Angeles, I made numerous friends my age who are Filipinos, creatives, Catholics, and leaders. We shared our family experiences, and for the first time, I felt like I could be myself without explaining my culture, a tradition, or making Asian jokes about myself. From the friendship of these women, I realized how important faith, family, and fun is to Filipinos!
Filipino Catholics are very devoted to the Child Jesus, the Crucified Christ, and the Virgin Mother. When I think of the two images of Christ most famous in the Philippines, I find it interesting that the royal imagery of Sante Nino is juxtaposed to the gory imagery of the Crucified Christ.
These two images of Jesus are a perfect representation of how I relate to the Lord: in his suffering and in his royalty. My favorite mystery of any of the rosary mysteries is the Crowning of Thorns. Christ was the King of Suffering, who wore a crown of thorns and whose throne was a cross. His royalty is not glamorous, golden and tidy but rather sacrificial, painful and bloody.
The Filipino devotion to Mary impacted my faith life before I even realized it! Since childhood, I can remember my mom always saying a rosary before Mass and on the road. I felt her presence and protection in my life since my first retreat at the age of fourteen. The patroness of the Philippines is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which is my feast day! In college, I did my first consecration to Jesus through Mary along with a 54 day rosary novena, concluding on December 8th and at the time, I didn’t know that my patroness was the Patroness of the Philippines as well! I feel such a consolation to know she worked in my life in profound ways even without me recognizing it yet.
Another beautiful component of being raised in a Filipino household is the importance of family. While no family is perfect, I am very thankful for mine. We show up for one another across state lines & even globally. This lesson of showing up teaches me selflessness, availability, and compassion, not only in my faith life, but in my community and in my work.
Lastly, Filipinos love to have fun! To me, they exude the joy of the Gospel. There is a word I stumbled upon recently, “Mabuhay,” which is not only a greeting but a lifestyle. My mom told me it has the same embodiment of the phrase “Long Live!” When I think of my life & the way I want to share Jesus to the world, I hope I can be a joyful and magnanimous witness.
Originally posted on @AsianCatholicWoman's Instagram