I grew up ashamed of the fact that I lived in the Philippines because I had grown up with sisters, family members, teachers, peers, and basically everyone around me mentioning the miserable state of our country. They talked about the Philippines’ inferior standard of living to other countries. First World countries didn’t have as much corruption in their governments, and they had cleaner and better environments to live in, so why be proud of living in the Philippines?
Consequently, I disliked the fact that I was Chinese because maybe if I weren’t Chinese, I could’ve gotten to live in a first-world country.
All of that intensified when I first discovered the book community. Most of the readers I encountered years ago on the internet were white and residents of the US. Although I recall there were Asian readers on the internet at the time, they weren’t very vocal about it because diversity wasn’t much of a hot topic back then. None of them were international-based readers as well.
I wanted so badly to have my own little corner in the book community where I talked about the books I read, but I thought that there wasn’t going to be a place for me if I wasn’t at least a reader living in the US. It might seem weird to you — why not just start a platform? There are no requirements for race, nationality or identity. Well, I can’t stress how important it is to see someone like you — who looks like you and is proud of the things you’re ashamed of — existing and thriving in a community, to feel like you’re allowed to be a part of it.
I realized that when I discovered the book blogging community. Before, I had only been aware of booktube and bookstagram. Sadly, I had no knowledge of people who blogged about books, instead of filming videos about them or taking photos of them.
One of the first blog posts I came across was a post from none other than Shut Up, Shealea. I remember Shealea using PHP (the Philippine peso) in that post, and I was so shocked that a well-off book blogger lived in the Philippines like I did.
After that, it was just a discovery of bloggers who were incredibly vocal about being Philippine-based and/or Asian after another. There was Kate @ Your Tita Kate, CW @ The Quiet Pond, May @ Forever and Everly, Julianna @ Paper Blots and so many more people. I also learned that Melanie @ Mel to the Any, a popular reviewer on Goodreads, was Filipino-American at around the same time, and that fact just made my whole life. If you’re an Asian and/or international book blogger whom I’ve interacted with, just know that you’ve validated me more than words can express.
I don’t think it’s far off to say that a decent number of book bloggers are international-based. Many still are Asian — and international-based at the same time! Seeing a community thrive off the work of people who share the same identities as I do has helped me start to appreciate myself.
My Asian and Chinese identity is validated through projects like the Asian Book Bloggers Directory, the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, and Augvocacy itself. International book bloggers’ voices are also so well heard-of in this community, with people like Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane books and CW @ The Quiet Pond advocating for them.
How could I be ashamed of being Asian when there are so many Asian bloggers out there promoting Asian books and actively making sure that Asian perspectives are heard? In the book blogging community, Asian and international voices are spotlighted and something to be proud of. So how could I not be proud of being Asian and international-based too?
Book bloggers have changed my whole perspective on my identity. Yes, the Philippines is a flawed country, but Filipino book bloggers appreciate its culture and promote Filipino books anyway. I’m still struggling to come to terms with the realities of being an international reader, like the fact that our libraries aren’t up to the same standard — but that’s a whole other can of worms. My point stands that book bloggers have drastically validated me, both as an Asian and Philippine-based reader, and I can’t express my awe and gratitude.
Augvocate for the Day
Caitlin has been a reader since she was a child. Now, she’s a high school student with a procrastination problem trying to squeeze in a few pages and blog posts in between homework. She’s Chinese, but has lived in the Philippines her whole life. Caitlin is proud of her Asian heritage, and hopes to show that through her support of Asian, books, authors and book bloggers.
This guest post is part of a month-long collaborative series called Augvocacy, which is shorthand for August with an advocacy. Essentially, this project aims to bring together like-minded individuals — be it bloggers, authors, or readers — in actively forwarding a particular advocacy. All contributors to this project are referred to as Augvocates — and each Augvocate will share their thoughts on my blog from the 1st day of August until the 28th. Find the rest of the Augvocacy 2019 posts here.
For this year, Augvocacy hopes to discuss and encourage the importance of amplifying Asian voices in books and in media. While this particular call brings attention to the oftentimes-ignored demand for more authentic Asian representation, it also aims to debunk the bigoted view that Asian cultures are a monolith and to shed light on the nuances of struggle, privilege, and identity within and across our own communities. Learn more about Augvocacy 2019 in this post.
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I’d love to hear from you!
🌻 Can you relate to Caitlin’s experiences in the book blogging community? Have you ever felt uplifted by other book bloggers?
🌻 Have you ever struggled with accepting your identity? Has the book community ever helped you with that struggle?
🌻 Let’s spread a little bit of love around! Who are some book bloggers whom you look up to?