A rarity: Half Filipino-half Jew individualsBy Ted Laguatan
The most famous part Filipino-part Jew person in the world is comedian Rob Schneider. I understand he has a Jewish father and a mother who is half Filipina and half mixed Caucasian. That makes him 1/4 Filipino 1/2 Jew and 1/4 something else. Very funny and talented guy.
Another celebrity with Jew-Filipino blood is Hailee Steinfield, the talented multi-awarded actress who was nominated in the 1996 “True Grit” film as Best Supporting Actress. I came across two other not so well known part Jew part Filipino individuals in the Internet and that was it. There were none others that I could point to.
Apparently individuals with Jew-Filipino blood are extremely rare on this planet. I imagine there must be some individuals of Jewish-Filipino extraction in places where many Jews and Filipinos live — like New York for example. I did meet a couple of Filipinas married to Jews but they did not have any children. So far, for the many years that I have lived, I have yet to personally meet a person with Filipino and Jewish blood.
However, around the second week of November this year, for the first time in my life, I will meet a half Filipino-half Jew individual. His Filipino blood comes from me and my wife and his Jewish blood comes from his father. Yes, the first half Filipino-half Jew person that I will be meeting in my life will be my first grandson.
I am fascinated, excited, thrilled and honored by the prospect of having a grandson who comes from “God’s Chosen People”, an ancient race from which my Lord Jesus Christ came from.
Who knows if within him, he carries the genes of the great patriarchs, prophets and personages like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Isaiah, David, Solomon, Blessed Mother Mary and her great humble husband Joseph or great thinkers, writers and artists like Karl Marx, Benjamin Disraeli, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Marc Chagall, Hannah Arendt, Woody Allen and so many others.
However I entertain no expectations on him being super bright or super talented even if genetically and potentially, on both his father and mother’s side, the genes that make that possible are prevalent. Every child is a blessing and being bright, talented, handsome or pretty are mere incidentals which should not be a factor on whether they should be loved and nurtured as they need to be. I will love him and accept him as he is.
But I do wonder what he will be like when he grows up to be a man. Will he be concerned about Filipino issues? Or will he be more concerned about Jewish issues? Or both?
It really makes no difference what particular issues he gets involved with — as long as it relates directly or indirectly to the sacred issue of being involved in trying to create a better world. Over dinner a couple of nights ago in a San Francisco Thai restaurant, his Jewish grandfather and grandmother who were visiting from Arizona — agreed with me that what is important in a person’s life is to live a meaningful life. We all understand “meaningful” as synonymous to helping others.
Our grandson will certainly have no lack of role models. His Jewish grandfather who retired from the World Bank some years back now volunteers his time helping the needy in fixing or repairing their houses whether it be carpentry, plumbing or electrical problems. His psychologist Jewish grandmother helps many with her counseling work. His own father was a peace corps volunteer in Thailand teaching various technologies to rural Thais to improve the quality of their lives.
On the Filipino side of his family, he will also have role models including a lawyer grandfather who will try to teach him to love God above everything else, to love his fellowmen as himself and absolutely be committed to truth and justice.
He will probably have his own special talents and probably be funny too like Schneider at times. He might formulate some hybrid delicacies unique to his species like bagel adobo sandwich, Bangus gefilte or mango strudel.
His father and mother have yet to decide on a name. Of course that decision is for them to make. “Benigno” or “Bayani” are not bad choices for a first name since he already will have a Jewish last name.
Even before my daughter met my son in law, she had already converted to Judaism. Initially, I was very much bothered when she told me of her pending decision as we raised her as a Catholic and all of her education was in Catholic schools. I told her to seriously consider what she was doing.
However, I do know that God works in strange ways and He certainly is far wiser than me. It is Him who must ultimately determine how He will lead my daughter to Him — not me. I should respect His way. What we believe in is a product of our own experience. Our spiritual journey is a continuing process that goes on as we go through life. What counts is our sincerity and openness to truth.
My belief that Jesus Christ is God is the result of personal experiences that I have gone through that have led me to this conclusion. I had not caused these experiences. But neither do I think that they were accidental. They were part of God’s plan for me. He may not have the same specific plan for my daughter or others — but that does not mean He will not bring them to Him through some other way.
A few days after my daughter told me she was converting to Judaism, I told her: “If you sincerely believe in your heart that this is the right thing for you to do in order to truly love God, then you must do it. In anything where you sincerely truly believe that you are doing the right thing, you must be true to yourself. Even if it means going against my wishes, you have to be true to yourself.”
I believe that when a person sincerely seeks to know and love God, as he or she journeys on through life in search of God’s truth — God Himself will find a way for him or her to eventually arrive at His truth.
That is why I am no longer bothered that my daughter had converted to Judaism. Neither am I bothered when she tells me that my grandson will have the same religion. As his mind and character develops, he will be more curious about his being half Filipino and also about his grandparent’s Catholic religion.
He will also wonder how his lolo arrived in the U.S. from the Philippines with only fifty dollars but somehow managed to go to a good law school and become a lawyer. I will definitely teach him the value of being courageous and taking risks when you are fighting for something worth dying for.
If he grows up with the thought of living a meaningful life, sincerely loving God above everything else and a commitment to truth — God will lead him through paths unique to him and eventually to a place in God’s heart.
Note: The California State Bar honors Atty. Ted Laguatan as one of the best immigration lawyers in the U.S. He is one of only 29 lawyers officially certified continuously for more than 20 years as an Expert Specialist in Immigration Law. He also does accident injuries, wrongful death and complex litigation. For communications: (San Francisco Area) 455 Hickey Blvd. Ste. 516, Daly City, Ca 94015 tel 650-991-1154 fax 650-991-1186 email firstname.lastname@example.org
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