At dawn on February 17, 1872,
three secular priests are publicly executed at Manila’s Bagumbayan
Plaza. One of the martyrs is Father José Burgos, the beloved
friend and mentor of a tall, serious young man standing among
the crowd of thousands of Indios. A seminarian and scion of
a wealthy family, Placido Mendoza watches in disbelief.
This is a pivotal moment in the history of the Philippines,
and in the life of Placido. It shocks the native Filipinos,
called “Indios” by the Spaniards, into putting their cultural
differences aside and coming together to free themselves from
their greedy and corrupt colonial masters.
Juan de la Cruz, born and
raised in Alabama, feels 100 hundred percent American. But
he doesn’t look American—at least not how most folks think
an American boy is supposed. Following some experiences with
exclusion, he decides he wants to be a Filipino, like his
parents. He spends long hours in the sun to darken his coffee
with cream complexion and learns to speak Tagalog. During
Christmas break, his mother takes him on a trip to the Philippines—a
place she still considers home and has always served as a
refuge—to help him become a Filipino.
But in the Philippines, Juan
finds that Filipinos, even his relatives, consider him an
American. They laugh at his wanting to be brown. His cousins,
with whom he has expected to develop an easy camaraderie,
fall off their seats whenever he tries to speak Tagalog.
For Juan, like so many children
of immigrants, the struggle to assimilate while also developing
their own identity is a challenging, sometimes heartbreaking,
and an ever evolving process. Set in the 1980s, Juan’s story
will ring true with anyone who’s ever experienced the search
for identity in a multicultural setting, or anyone who’s ever
struggled to fit in.
Javillonar Palileo received
her Masters Degree from Kansas State, and Doctorate from the
University of Nebraska - Lincoln. After21 years on the Sociology
faculty at the University of South Alabama, she opted for
early retirement, but continues teaching online classes.
Dr. Palileo and her husband have three
adopted children from the Philippines. Upon recognizing the
children were experiencing exclusion, she felt compelled to
write "Coming Home" to not only help her children,
but to reach out to children who may be suffering similar