My fiance’s parents came to this country a little over thirty years ago from the Philippines. Their entry to America was by way of Hawaii then San Francisco then New York, where my soon-to-be husband was born. As a second generation Filipino-American he is bound by two cultures. Rejoicing in being an American and being Filipino. Of course he has been taught traditional Filipino culture from his parents, his family, and his community. As a third generation European-American I too come from a specific way of life that seems to me as completely normal. However, he is much more aware of the dichotomy and cultural norms he must adhere to in his different environments. I often assume my norms are “American” and not what my parents — an English-German third gen and a Bulgarian-English third gen–taught me.
Last February we went to the Philippines, lovingly called “PI” by second gens, and it shattered some of what he thought he knew, explained a lot of what he didn’t, and informed both of us about the nuances of his parents’ ways. We went for a wedding but this didn’t fully prepare me for the questions his mom would ask me about the wedding.
My mother-in-law-to-be’s main question since we got engaged was who our sponsors were going to be. “Sponsors?”, I thought. Are these people who will be paying for the wedding? That seems a bit “different”, I thought. No, no “sponsors” are individuals involved in your lives that will stand up and attest that you two should get married, and that you have the support of your friends, family, and the community. Basically saying, as elders, “we support this union.” From a little research this seems to be mostly a Hispanic Catholic tradition. The Philippines were ruled by Spain through Mexico City and in many ways their customs share similarities. Not being Catholic I wasn’t familiar with this term. So right now I am trying to brainstorm who in my family would be sponsors. His mom came up with examples for him. But who should be my sponsors? I’m trying to think of people with the same sort of “status” or relationship.
Typically for a Filipino this information goes on the wedding invitation. But do I want to have this on the invites? I think my friends and family will be confused by the term. I’ve got to figure this out before our wedding invitations can be printed! So by the begin of this project–by February–it has got to be planned.