The World As A Village That Has The Bayanihan Spirit

When I was a child in the Philippines, I briefly learned about the Bayanihan Spirit. This is what I learned:

In the olden days, houses in the rural areas of the Philippines were made of bamboo and palm fronds. They were light and portable. Therefore, when a family had to move their homes to a different location, the whole village would get together to help the family move. The strong men put the house on their shoulders and together they moved it to the desired location. The movers had musicians walk along with them, strumming their guitars singing traditional folk songs. The other men and women helped carry belongings and some of the women cooked up a feast at their new location. After the men secure the house, everybody had a party.

Over the years, I have forgotten all about it until recently. I saw the devastation Typhoon Haiyan caused in the Philippines. I read all about horrors these poor people experienced. I shared with millions of people around the world the same sick and helpless feeling as photos and videos of the devastations and anarchy that followed slowly emerged for us to see. Then, we start reading and watching heroes who risked their lives to save their fellow man, simple humanity unexpected in a place that is in hellish chaos that the natural order of things were survival of the fittest and every man for himself.  As logistically possible, we slowly watch the world quickly come to their aid.

In my neck of the woods, I too wanted to help. As soon as I ironed out the logistics on how to get the donations to the survivors, I reached out to my friends. The majority of them are not Filipino. In the last two weeks, they filled up my van with diapers, formula, food, clothing, medicine, etc. I was touched by their generosity and humanity. My email asking for donations was forwarded to other generous moms who chastised me for not including them in the email. Even my children’s pediatrician, whom I took a chance to ask for some formula, reached out to another office and between the two practices, donated over 200 cans of formula. These generous donors thanked me, but it is I who needs to thank them for their generosity. Without them, I had nothing to deliver, and without them, there wouldn’t be anything to airfreight to the Philippines.  Every little bit counts toward the greater good.

I know that people around the world are doing the same thing. Young and old, rich and poor, people gave what they could afford. Stories about some street urchins in Manila who knew of a woman who was putting together relief boxes for the survivors, scraped together what they very little they owned, knocked on her door, and handed their donations. Countries such as USA, Japan, Israel, and UK were in ground zero as fast as they could get there.  Countries and corporations donated millions and dispatched their own people — as large as a whole battalion to a crew of 2, they came to aid a country crippled with devastation. It was the most touching sight to see.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote a book “It takes a Village And Other Lessons Children Teach Us” when she was First Lady. I always liked the phrase “It takes a village”. The concept rings true on the impact of individuals and groups outside the family have on the well being of children.

In 2006, I battled breast cancer, and my community helped me get through the ordeal. My girlfriends all came together and helped with carpool, meals, kept me company during chemo, etc. That was when the phrase “It takes a village” really meant something.  My village got me through my illness.

Fast forward to November 2013. After I saw the world come together to help out the survivors of the typhoon, I just realized that the phrases “It takes a village” and “the Bayanihan Spirit” have the same meaning. We don’t have to be children to be raised by a village, nor we don’t have to be Filipino to have the Bayanihan Spirit. The phrases ring true towards any community that comes together to help a cause. Therefore, I would like to say, thank you world, for having the Bayanihan Spirit. Thank you world for being a wonderful village that has made a great and positive impact on helping out my people. Thank you!  Thank you!

Reading and Book Signing in Virginia! December 7-8, 2013, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. – Sweet City Desserts, Vienna VA


Poster Board 12x18


I am so excited to bring “I am Flippish!” to Virginia!  Sweet City Desserts is hosting my reading and signing for both days.  Thank you to my cousin Manuel Tagle and Mitzi Pickard for inviting me and organizing this event.

There is nothing like having a personally signed book to give to kids for the Holidays.  So get some of your Holiday shopping done, and preorder your personally signed copies of “I am Flippish!”  Please email me at to reserve your copies.

SweetCity_logoCMYK-2 copy

Please click image for Sweet City Website

131 A Maple Avenue West, Vienna VA 22180

(703) 938-8188


Will The Real Mrs. Ryan, Please Stand Up?

What’s in a name?  When you hear the name Leslie Ryan, how do you envision what she looks like?  Close your eyes and try to say the name out loud.  What do you see? You see a typical Irish lass, am I  correct?   Or when you hear the names Deborah Yamamoto or Lydia Bolts, what do you see? Would you think one is Asian and the other Caucasian?

Well, my friend Deborah Yamamoto is a fair skinned, red head of Scottish ancestry.  She married a Japanese American named Andy Yamamoto.  She told me that she always gets a look of surprise from people when they meet her for the first time.

What about my husband’s aunt, Lydia Bolts?  She is a petite woman with dark olive skin and black hair, whose family immigrated from El Salvador.  She told me that it wasn’t easy for her in the 1960’s when they got married.  They thought she was the nanny or the housekeeper, and couldn’t be married to my uncle who is Caucasian.  She has many stories to tell.  (Stay tuned for my next blog.)

Leslie Ryan doesn’t have blonde hair or blue eyes nor white skin.  She is a short Filipino American with tanned skin, brown eyes, and black hair – she is me.  I married a blonde haired, blue eyed handsome Irish American, took his last name and became Leslie Ryan.  It has been 13 years since we were married, and we still experience misconceptions and stereotyping based on my name.

If you tell me that when you hear those names I mentioned above you immediately thought Leslie Ryan is Filipina, Cindy Yamamoto is Caucasian, and Lydia Bolts is Hispanic, then you must be lying.  Thirteen years since I changed my last name to Ryan,  I have experienced several misconception on what a Mrs. Ryan should look like.  Here are my top five moments:

5.  Ten years ago, we moved into our home in a neighborhood that wasn’t very diverse. A salesman knocked on my door, and when I opened it, he asked to talk to the lady of the house.  I turned around and yelled “Hey, is the lady of the house in?”  Then I turned back to the guy, and I sweetly replied, “That would be me!” Then I closed the door in his face.  I guess I didn’t look like a homeowner.

4.   My husband and I were in the process of interviewing landscape contractors.  One morning, we had an appointment with the contractor, but  I had to drop off our kids to school and pick up my nanny.  When we got home, my nanny went into the front door first, and I was right behind her.  We were both in the entryway  when I saw that the two male contractors stood up and walked over to greet her and shake her hand.  My husband said, “That’s not my wife.  That’s our nanny.” Whoops! Their red complexions weren’t from working outside all day.  I took the high road and greeted them nicely. I think the guys tried to make up for their faux pas because they answered every question and concerns I had.  Sometimes when it comes to construction talk men usually would look and address their answers to their fellow men even if the questions posed came from a woman.  These guys knew how to get the contract because they looked at me and addressed me with their answers.  I think they knew that even if my husband liked them, I got the last word on whether or not they got the contract.  They had a lot of making up to do after the faux pas. They turned out to be the best contractors we ever hired.   They have always been respectful and went above and beyond to accomplish all my requests.

3.   Twelve years ago, I was on a flight home from Chicago.  I was almost six months pregnant, large as a house, uncomfortable, and dreading the six hour flight home.  With that in mind, my husband bought me a business class seat on United Airlines so that I was comfortable during the flight home.  After I sat down and put my seatbelt on, the flight attendant came over to me, huffed, and asked me in an accusatory tone “Where is Mrs. Ryan?”   By the tone of his voice, he probably thought I was from coach, snuck into Business Class and stole a seat.  If he asked me for my ticket and driver’s license, I probably would have lost my temper.  I politely replied that I was Mrs. Ryan, and the look on the flight attendant’s face was of surprise.  The only thing he said was, “Ohhhh…”  finally understanding how this short, dark, and pregnant woman could be named “Mrs. Ryan.”  He then turned around and marched back into the galley.  He was nicer afterwards.  Or maybe because he looked at my husband’s airline mileage plus status and saw that it was Platinum?   I couldn’t imagine how it was forty to fifty years ago when mixed marriages weren’t as prevalent.

2.   Recently, I had several really large and heavy pots delivered, and when I opened the garage door to let the guy bring the pots in, he asked me where Mr. Ryan was and if I worked for him.  Seriously?  I was even dressed up that day.  I was so annoyed, I made the poor guy move the heavy pots a couple of times.  Then I felt bad and offered him some water.

1.   This is the most recent and most ludicrous incident.  I schedule a one on one tutorial at an Apple store, and when I arrived, I was seated with three other women who were Caucasian. The Apple tutor I was assigned to went to the first woman and asked if she was Leslie Ryan.  She shook her head.  I raised my hand and said, “I’m Leslie Ryan.”  The guy ignored me and went to the second woman and asked if she was Leslie Ryan.  Second woman said, “No.”  He then went over to the third woman, who already shook her head before he asked her.  I was the only one left at the table, and he finally looked at me.  I gave him a look that says I’m the person he was looking for.  I couldn’t resist and asked him, “What, I don’t look like a Leslie Ryan?”  Awkward, right? The rest of the hour was a little disconcerting, to say the least.  Even though this incident happened an hour ago, I still left the store shaking my head in disbelief.

Some of the above incidents happened twelve years ago to just recently.  One would think there would have been progress where people no longer assume what a person looks like based on their name.

What about multiracial children?  My son’s name for example is Sean Patrick Ryan, but he looks more like me.  My husband and I thought it would be cool to give him a full Irish name.  Did we make a mistake by doing that?  Should we have included a Filipino name and hope that they would see he is half?  What is he going to experience when he grows up?  How will he handle situations of misperception and stereotyping?  I can only hope and pray that he doesn’t resent us for giving him that name.  So far, he hasn’t experienced any of this.

How do I teach my children to deal with misperception and stereotyping?  My husband and I discussed this matter, and we decided that the first thing is to make sure our kids have a strong sense of who they are.  As long as they are confident about themselves, nothing can break them.  Incidents like I have experienced will just roll off their backs and afterwards, they can laugh about how ignorant people can be.  The next is to lead by example.  If I get angry and throw a fit over every incident I have experienced, then that is exactly what they will do.  I usually say something funny or use humor.  It diffuses an awkward situation and makes the other party feel dumb.  However, if the situation is not based on ignorance but malice, then I will fight and stand up for what is right.  I pick my battles.  Hopefully my children will learn this as they grow up. I feel that I can’t protect my children forever.  Neither can I control what other people say and do.  All I can do is teach my children to be confident about themselves and try to lead by example.

Our country is the most diverse than it has ever been.   Mixed marriages are prevalent worldwide.  More schools celebrate and teach multiculturalism and diversity.  Parents seek to raise global children.  Traditional and social media often talks about multiculturalism and diversity.  Movies, television shows, and commercials are incorporating multicultural families to get with the times.  At some point in this century, issues like this will be a thing of the past.  One can only hope…

A Soldier’s Gift

In light of an impending war, and the anniversary month of 9/11, I wanted to write about something positive — about a precious gift we received and still cherish.  No, it is not an expensive gift like jewelry or an electronic toy, but it is a priceless gift that money cannot buy.  The idea for this blog came from my twelve year old son who decided to write an essay for his homework about two special souvenirs he received three years ago.  Until now, I did not realize the impact this gift has made on my children.

My family and I love to travel as much as we can.  We love to see new things, eat the local food, and collect souvenirs.  My two children have collected many souvenirs from every place they visited – Philippines, Italy, Singapore, Hawaii, Mexico, Hong Kong.  Some of the souvenirs are cheap tchotchkes that broke after we got home, disappeared somewhere in our house, or is now gathering dust in a corner shelf in their bedrooms.  The mean mom that I am would get rid of some of the junk, and surprisingly they did not miss or ask for them.  For the most part,  my children remember where they got each surviving souvenir, but the rest, unfortunately, remain insignificant.  As a mother who abhors clutter, I rather put them all in a box instead of giving my housekeeper another tchotchkes to dust.  However, there are two unlikely souvenirs my family and I treasure with all our hearts.  They are a small can of 7-up and a cheap plastic pen.


How could a can of 7-up and a cheap plastic pen be so important to a family? Pretty laughable, right?  These two items are kept in a safe place.  The soda will never be opened and drank, nor the pen will ever be used to write something down.  One time my husband accidentally put the soda in the fridge, and my kids threw a fit.  Yes, that is how valuable they are.  We received these items three years ago as a gift and to this day my children still remember how we got them.  They tell the story to their friends just like it happened on a recent trip.  That is how much we treasure them.  Even my husband who is not a sentimental person, he too now respects our treasure.

It happened three years ago when we decided to spend spring break in Oahu, Hawaii.  We noticed many soldiers on our flight from LAX and happen to sit across of one of them.  They were all young.  Young, exhausted, and battle weary.  Many of them slept for most of the flight.  Some just stared off into space, deep in their own thoughts, maybe relishing the peacefulness of their surroundings.  My husband told me that they probably have been traveling for over 24 hours from Iraq or Afghanistan. As I tried to get comfortable in our narrow seats, he also added that the uncomfortable economy seats are probably the softest bed they slept on in months.  I could not imagine what these boys went through, and my heart went out to every one of them.  My nine year old son who is a military buff was in awe to see real soldiers up close.

Airlines nowadays no longer serve free food on flights from Los Angeles to Oahu but have boxed lunches available for purchase.  With two picky eaters, I packed lots of snacks such as string cheese, cookies, candy, and for lunch, several slices of cold pizza.  As the flight attendant began drink service and selling their boxed lunches, passengers began taking out their wallets and purses to buy their food.  The soldier next to us was awake and looked as if he wasn’t going to buy any lunch.  It was a five hour flight, and I was sure he was hungry.  My husband and kids were starving by that time, so he probably was too.  I nudged my husband and motioned him to buy the soldier some lunch.  He understood and gave the menu to the soldier and told him to order whatever he wanted to eat and beer if he wanted that too.  The young soldier gratefully accepted the lunch but politely declined the beer.  I saw that he was ravenous.  He ate everything, savoring every bite.  When was the last time this soldier ate?  Airport food is not cheap, and I don’t blame the kid for not spending a fortune on crappy airport food.  I took out our pizza and doled them out to my husband and two children, I wondered how long since this soldier had pizza, so I gave him a slice too.  Yes, I didn’t offer it, I just put it on a sheet of the paper towel I brought and placed it on his tray.  He gave me a big smile.  I think he hasn’t had American pizza in a long time because he seemed to savor it too.  I normally don’t give food to strangers in an airplane it was just that my mama bear instinct kicked in.  This young man is not only a son of a mother I don’t even know, but he is also our country’s son.  He is giving his life to his country, fighting for us while we sleep peacefully in our warm and comfortable beds.  As a mother, I know what it is like to worry about my children if they are eating properly, or taking care of themselves.  Albeit they are still young, I cannot imagine being far away from my child let alone know that he is constantly in danger fighting for our country.

After lunch, the soldier took a nap and so did my children and husband.  After an hour or so, my children woke up and were hungry again.  What is it with flying that makes my children constantly hungry?  I dug into my snack bag and took out string cheese, Goldfish crackers, Oreos, and apple slices.  Then I divided them into three – my two kids and the soldier across from us. When I placed the snacks on the soldier’s tray, he  protested that he couldn’t take the kids’ snack away from them, but my kids assured him the snacks were good.  My kids probably thought he didn’t like them.  I told him to save the snacks for later in case he gets hungry.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw him munching happily just like my kids.  It made very happy to see him enjoying himself.

The soldier slept during the remainder of our flight, and once we landed, he profusely thanked us for feeding him throughout the flight.  We thanked him for fighting for our country, which, was far more important than our mere offering of pizza and snacks.

After we picked up our bags, my husband had to take a shuttle to get our rental car.  While waiting for him, the soldier ran up to us and asked us to wait until he got his bag because he wanted to give us something.  The soldier had to wait a long time to get his bag, and he frequently glanced at us as if he was afraid that we were going to leave.  I texted my husband to take his time so that it gave the soldier some time to get his things.  The bag finally came out of the conveyor belt, and he walked over to us and rummaged through his bag and took out a can of 7-up and a pen.

“I really appreciate your kindness in feeding me, and I just want to give you these humble tokens of appreciation.  I was in Iraq, and this can of 7-up is written in Farsi, and this pen printed with a hotline is what we distribute to the locals during our patrols so they can call us with leads.  They are just little souvenirs for the kids,” he said. The kids and I were surprised to receive a present.

I never expected anything from this young soldier.  I did what every mother would do without a second thought.  We chatted while I waited for my husband to return with the rental car.  We found out he is a Sergeant on a two week leave from Iraq.  His wife gave birth to a baby girl three months ago, and he was going to surprise his wife and see his daughter for the first time.  My son Sean asked him some questions about Iraq and what he did over there.  Sean loves anything that has to do with the military – past or present.  To be able to talk to the soldier was one of the biggest highlights of his trip. By then my husband texted me to tell me he was out front.  I offered to take him to where he needed to go, but he declined and was going to rent a car.  He offered his hand, but I gave him a hug instead and told him to enjoy his time with his family and to stay safe for the sake of his wife and daughter.

During our week long trip, my children talked about the soldier and how cool it was that he gave them presents.  They told the story to the relatives we visited during our vacation.  They even brought it to school for show and tell after we got back from vacation.  Throughout the years, my kids would still proudly show the 7-up can and pen and tell the story to their friends.  This is one story that will never get old. I don’t think the soldier knew how much his simple gifts had an impact on my family.  We live in a very material world where everybody clamors to get the latest and greatest toy or gadget.  Today’s gadget and toys are obsolete a few months later, discarded by their owners like Woody in Toy Story.

I am proud to say that my children still treasure the 7-up can and pen which is safely kept in a place where we could see it.   To my family, the 7-up can and pen is a symbol of the men and women sacrificing their lives to fight for our country and to remind us to be grateful for being able to sleep in our soft, warm beds every night and not be afraid of bombs, IED’s, and bullets when we walk out of the safety of our homes.  Every time I see these objects, I remember to say a prayer for the safe return of the soldier who gave them to us, along with all the soldiers fighting for our country.  Last Friday, my son finished his essay and returned the 7-up can and pen in its rightful place.  He informed me the can of 7-up has expired.  I told him it didn’t matter if it expired because we were never going to drink it anyway.  He agreed.  I then asked him why he wrote an essay about a gift he received three years ago.  This is what he said.

“Mom, he gave us the coolest gift.  He is fighting for our country, yet he gave us gifts.  That soldier is a cool cat.”

Yeah, I agreed the soldier is a cool cat.  Funny thing is we remember what he looked like, and every detail of the story, but we never got his name.  Keep safe soldier, wherever you may be.


“I am Flippish!” is coming to San Francisco! – Filipino American International Book Festival, October 19-20, 2013, San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch – San Francisco, CA

“I am Flippish!” is coming to San Francisco!

Filipino American authors and artists have come together to share their stories at the second Filipino American International Book Festival.  I am honored to be invited by Mrs. Linda Nietes of the Philippine Expressions Bookshop to participate in this wonderful event.  Come and get your signed copies of “I am Flippish!” and other wonderful books written by my fellow Filipino American authors.

This event will be held:

San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch
100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

My assigned schedule at the event is as follows:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

12:30 – 1:30 Fisher’s Children’s Center, 2nd Floor – Reading “I am Flippish!”

2:00 – 3:00 Book signing at Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s table – Table A

Sunday, October 20, 2013

1:00 – 2:00 Book signing at Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s table – Table A

Click Here For More Information About The Filipino American International Book Festival



#mondayblogs #hapa #multiculturalfamilies #biracial #mixeracefamily #filipino #irish #multicultural #kidlit #sanfrancisco

Wilmington Children’s Book Festival, Booth #35, Saturday, October 5, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. – Banning Residence Museum, Wilmington, CA


IMG_4629I had a wonderful time at the event.  Lots of enthusiastic children sharing their love for books. This was my second year participating in this fun event. Thank you very much United Way, Tesoro, Valero, and other generous sponsors for making this event possible.

Click here for more information about this fun event


A Plush for Plushkies!

My daughter had the pleasure of receiving Fabio – the Italian Plushkie as a gift.  Our family went to Italy for a family event and the kids learned as much as they could about Italy beforehand.  So when Linley saw Fabio, she knew instantly that he was from Italy because of his boot shape.  She also told us that Fabio wears the colors of the Italian flag.  What a smart concept for a cuddly toy!


I went to the Plushkies website and loved their concept of early multicultural education.  Teachers and Parents can use the Plushkies  to teach young children about other countries including the USA.  All Plushkies are shaped like their countries so that the children will recognize them on the map.  To finish it off, each country wears the colors of their respective flags.  I wish Ricardo and his team would make more Plushkies.   The ones available are China, USA, Mexico, and Italy.  My kids want Filipino and Irish Plushkies.  Especially if the Irish Plushkie is named Sean.

This is a great educational toy for young children.  Parents and teachers, if you are looking for toys to help shape your global children, then start collecting Plushkies!  The company’s website also has supplemental materials to go with their Plushkies.  Educational comments aside, the Plushkies are well made of soft materials that the kids would want to cuddle with them at night.  My daughter has had Fabio in bed next to her every night ever since she got him.  Now that’s a good sign.

I connected with Plushkie’s CEO Ricardo Jimenez and we shared our passion for raising global children.  Ricardo loved the concept of my book “I am Flippish!” and interviewed me for his blog.
Plushkie Interview: Raising Flippish Children


Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s Tent) — 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. Saturday, September 7, 2013, Point Fermin Park, San Pedro, CA

Come join me for a day of Filipino arts and culture.  I will be signing my book “I am Flippish!” at the Philippine Expressions Booth from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  See you there!

Pt. Fermin Park

807 West Paseo Del Mar

San Pedro (Los Angeles), CA

Click Here For More Information

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Author Visit, Target Free Family Saturday: Share Your Story! – Saturday, July 13, 2013 – Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, CA


I was invited by Heidi Durrow, New York Times Best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky to be a featured author for the Target Free Family Saturday Event at the Japanese American National Museum.

After the reading “I am Flippish!” I gave a Keynote presentation on the stories behind my book, my illustrator, and other fun facts.  My audience also got to pin on my map (pictured) their countries of ancestry.  I will never take any of the pins off.  I will be counting how many pins I get by the end of the year.

Thank you Heidi Durrow and JANM for inviting me to share my book to the families.

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Photo Credit: Russell Kitagawa

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Japanese American National Museum: Click Here For Details

Here are more details:

Celebrate the exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History and share your story with your family and friends! You won’t want to miss out on this fun Target Free Family Saturday.

• Create a memory book to jot down stories about you and your family.
• Make a family portrait collage.
• Ruthie’s Origami Corner: Fold a fun origami camera.

11AM: Doors open.

11AM-2PM: Make a salad and salad dressing that will soon become a family favorite with Kidding Around the Kitchen.

12PM & 2PM: Bring your memories and prepare to write! Instructor Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo will help you write your own family stories.

1PM: Take a tour of our exhibit Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History with curator Dr. Duncan Williams.

1:30PM: Join us for a ‘mixed’ reading with! Leslie Ryan will read her book I Am Flippish and Heidi Cole will read her book Am I A Color?

2PM: Join us for a screening of the documentary Searchlight SerenadeSearchlight Serenadeexplores the big bands that were formed by Japanese Americans while incarcerated during World War II.

2:30PM: We Tell Stories will perform multicultural tales in Proud To Be Me!

3PM: Allen Say will read his new book The Favorite Daughter. This tale, dedicated with love to Say’s daughter, is one for all parents who want their children to feel pride in their heritage, and to know their own greatest sources of strength and inspiration.

4PM: Doors close.

Generously sponsored by Target, these special Saturdays are filled with fun activities giving families unique ways to learn, play, and grow together.

In conjunction with the exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History

An Open Letter to Nielsen Company

Dear Nielsen,

On behalf of our nation’s multicultural families, I would like for you to start evolving into the twenty-first century.

A while ago you called our home and asked to speak to my children about the types of movies they like to watch.  I was kind enough to let you speak to them instead of telling you to take us off your list.  The survey was going very well until the end when your surveyor asked my children what ethnic demographics they fall in.  Are they Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, Black, Pacific Islander?  They both answered that they are Flippish.  Long pause.  The surveyor asked what Flippish meant and I told her they are half Filipino and half Irish.  Another long pause.  I repeated that they are fifty percent Filipino and fifty percent Caucasian.  I thought that a well regarded survey company such as Nielsen would have thought of the growing number of multiracial families all over America and changed their survey.  I never expected the answer we got.

“Ma’am, you can only choose one ethnicity,” replied the surveyor.

Really, Nielsen?  My children had to choose one ethnicity.  So if they are an even 50/50 why do they have to make a choice?  I told her again, that they are half, biracial, and it is unfair to make them choose an ethnicity.

“Ma’am, I don’t make the rules. Your children have to choose one ethnicity,” replied the exasperated surveyor.

During this time my children were looking at me, amused at what was taking place.  I don’t think they understood the significance of this situation.  However, they didn’t look upset as I was.

I could have done one of two things: I could have delivered some expletives to the poor surveyor who was only doing her job or hang up.  I chose neither. I let my children answer the surveyor.

Both of my children answered at the same time, “Filipino!”

The surveyor was satisfied, and put them down as Asian.  After we hung up the phone, my eleven year old son mischievously told me that the next time Nielsen calls, he will say he is Caucasian just to be fair with the Irish side of the family.

I explained to the kids that by calling themselves Caucasian the next time you guys call us, it will screw up your statistic.  Then my son told me that it is their fault and they should have let him put down he was both Caucasian and Asian.  My eight year old daughter asked me why did they have to choose?  They are Flippish!

So Nielsen, why did you make my children choose one ethnic background when you were told they have two?  Is this what you do when you call up multicultural families and make them choose one category?  Your website states “Nielsen Knows People” — do you really?  Don’t you know that there are millions of multicultural families in the US?  A company like Nielsen should be aware of this and change with the times.  Before you call my home again to ask to speak to my children, make sure you change the way your survey is set up and allow your surveyors to check all that applies.  Please get with the program or don’t ever call us again.


Leslie V. Ryan