‘Third-culture’ kids

Published January 15, 2019, 12:31 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza



Jullie Y. Daza
Jullie Y. Daza

She belongs to the universe now, but she is ours first, with Australia also claiming her as their own.

Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2019, can’t help it. She’s a child of a third culture. Her mother Filipino, her father Scottish. With blood of the Philippines and Scotland flowing in her veins, she was born in a third country, Australia, from which she departed when she was 18 to return to the land of her mother’s ancestors.

The term “children of a third culture” came from the pen of Jamil Maidan Flores, a classmate of mine in journalism school in UST, who wrote speeches for five Indonesian presidents until he retired some years ago. Now “childless” with Noreen in their empty nest, he continues to live in Jakarta, occasionally missing their two sons, who have chosen to live and work abroad, in Europe.

Jamil’s sons speak Bahasa and no Filipino, they love Indonesian food more than adobo and sinigang, and the thought of relocating to Manila has not crossed their minds. If their parents have ever discussed such a plan, it would not have been within earshot of the boys, because Mr. and Mrs. Flores know exactly what the two would say. No. It must be like smoking. Once the nicotine or the civilization – a way of life and living, friends and habits, the weather and the food, the very air and color of the sky – gets into your system. . . Jamil, also a philosopher and prize-winning poet, understands this. His sons have 100 percent Filipino blood, but they grew up in Indonesia, and now a third country is their home.

Catriona and Jamil’s sons were born into a contracting planet where, with airplanes flying faster and cheaper, travel and migration make it easy to find work and fall in love by long distance. Humankind will soon be a species comprised mostly of mixed races. So-called “pure” races will become rare, if not extinct.

Beauty queens with surnames like Wurtzbach and Raj are only the tip of the iceberg. Recall the movie stars whose “branding” is instantly more saleable with names like Ramsay, Curtis-Smith, Matsunaga. Are they children of a third culture? Maybe not, but their daughters and sons might be.