Recognizing Our Great Women: National Women’s History Month

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Raise your hand if you didn't know that March is National Women's History Month. A week ago, I would have counted myself among the guilty, until my Twitter feed taught me otherwise.

As the saying goes, "Behind every great man is a great woman." Until I Googled it to confirm, I actually thought the original saying was, "Behind every great man is an even greater woman." And it very well could (and should) be. While for me the "great man" part is a work in progress, the "greater woman" certainly rings true in my life, as my wife somehow manages with seeming effortlessness a career, our daughter, and...me.

Fortunately for me, the saying's truth spans generations and national borders, from my paternal great-grandmother, a tough-as-nails farm worker who fled Spain for Cuba with my grandfather in tow, just an infant then, to my fun-loving and bright little girl born in Chicago. My Spanish grandfather would eventually immigrate to the U.S. to box professionally and meet my grandmother, a gentle and sweet Italian immigrant who entered at Ellis Island and always had a kind word for everyone. My maternal grandmother, my Lola, was a crafty businesswoman from the Philippines who smoked cigarettes with the lit end in her mouth and saved my Lolo's company when he fell ill. Having lived with us for twenty years, she was known to dote on us grandchildren with amazing Filipino food made with hours of love, but would also curse at you in Tagalog and run you off the table for playing mahjong too slowly. I am blessed to have two incredibly talented and supportive sisters whom I admire, and as luck would have it, I gained a wonderful sister-in-law and mother-in-law, who in her own right is a successful entrepreneur from India. And of course, there is my mother, who came to the U.S. from the Philippines as a graduate student and bravely traveled the U.S. solo by bus and train to see all that the country offered, eventually landing in New York, where she met my father. Technically, there in New York is where my story began, but of course the influences that make me who I am today extend beyond New York, beyond U.S. borders.

Although this month is a great opportunity to recognize the women who shaped our lives, past and present, in the U.S. and abroad, be sure to appreciate them year round!

I encourage you to read these two articles on immigrant women:

From the Center for American Progress, 10 Facts You Need to Know About Immigrant Women by Ann Garcia and Samanta Franchim

From AsianWeek, Women are the Face of Immigration Today by Miriam Yeung of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum

Thank you, ladies.

Categories: Voices in Immigration