Mark Juaton, 30’s
Current Role: Educator
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
When and how did your family come to the United States? Where were you born?
I was born in the Philippines, specifically Zamboanga City in the Mindanao region. After many generations of living in the southern part of the Philippines, my family relocated to the Luzon region in the mid/late-90’s. We lived in Malabon, which was close to the capital, Manila. We moved to the United States in 1998, and lived in Los Angeles, where I spent the majority of my teen and early adult life.
What are the strengths and challenges of being Asian, Asian American, and/or Pacific Islander?
A strength of being Pilipino is having an early awareness of diversity. In the Philippines, there are so many dialects that may sound nothing like each other. I grew up speaking Chavacano, but that was not enough. Tagalog being the national language helped me understand early on that my world spans beyond my backyard, next to rice paddies. Aside from Tagalog, I heard (but did not learn) Visaya, Ilocano, and so many other dialects from different regions of the Philippines. Of course, I also heard (and learned) English with the help of Cartoon Network and the Discovery Channel.
A personal challenge of being Pilipino is the division of our cultures. Although we have connections being Pilipino, there are still variances in our culture, language, experience, etc. One instance of this was an experience I had teaching in San Diego. I received a new student who had just arrived from the Philippines. So, knowing that we had the Pilipino connection, I proceeded to communicate with her in Tagalog. About a week later, her aunt told me that she spoke Ilocano. Of course, I apologized to her and the child profusely, but it helped me learn that although we were all Pilipino, we still have divisions in our culture that may separate us.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is marrying the love of my life and living our life how we want to live.
What is one thing you learned or appreciate from your family growing up?
I appreciate acquiring my family’s drive and tenacity. It has truly helped me accomplish all that I have achieved today and will achieve in the future.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
I speak Chavacano and Tagalog from the Philippines. Knowing those dialects growing up helped me learn Spanish and (some) French through my schooling.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community?
Be YOU! Stay true to who you are. Understand your past so that you can grow into your future. And always present kindness, love, and understanding to others, regardless of who they are. We all have our own stories.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
My husband, Christopher, and puppy, Lucas, are the greatest joys in life. They are the best things to come home to after a long day’s work.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
Folks can find me on...
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Who are we?
Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voices in our communities.
This is a section for AAPI specifically because, coming from our Khmer culture, we often feel invisible in various spaces from school to the media.
We want to show the ways in which we are the same and different, and that all of our backgrounds and experiences are valuable to learn and celebrate. Let's uplift each other!
Want to share your voice?
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