Lesson learned: Capture history now

by Catherine Ang

In 2004, my Lola passed away. She was the last of her siblings; and one of the last from that generation of “Lolas” and “Lolos.” The last time I saw her, I had had this idea of videotaping an interview with her. There was (and still is) so much I wanted to learn about her and my family’s history that I dreamt of capturing on film. Actually, it was more than an idea; I simultaneously had a strong gut reaction that told me that I should really do this. I had our video camera and plenty of blank tapes, but in the end, I lost my nerve and never asked her. I was worried that it was a silly idea and that she wouldn’t want to do it. It is one of my biggest regrets.

One of the [many] reasons I joined AU’s Board is because I strongly believe that learning about one’s family history can be a transformative, empowering experience. After Lola passed away, I remember sitting at her dining table with my Mom and Uncle as we sketched out the family tree; going back at least two generations. Doing this unearthed a myriad of stories that I’d never heard before which made me feel even more connected to my family. It was the first time that I had felt grounded in years.

However, since that time, I haven’t talked that much about my family’s history with either my Mom or other relatives. My desire to do my own genealogy research resurfaced in recent years after I became a Mom. I want my son, who is biracial, to know about his Filipino and Chinese roots and more importantly, to feel connected to them. I know that there are a number of ways in which I can help foster his feelings of familial and cultural connection and teaching him about his family tree is one of them.

If I could go back in time, I would muster up my courage to do that interview. However, since time machines have yet to exist, I can, at the very least, try to start capturing some stories now.


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