Hispanic Voices Series: Margery Samson Marcelino, Spain

Margery was kind enough to aslo unpack with us on Unpacking with BelaKharma.  Listen to that interview for more on her heritage and culture. 

It is Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States and to celebrate our Latina sisters, we’ve interviewed a handful of participants for our Hispanic Voices Series to provide a platform to share while we learn a bit more about their background, family life and well… heritage.  

Welcome, Margery Samson Marcelino from Los Angeles, CA 
What is your heritage/background? 
Do you speak your families native language?
Yes, Tagalog (Taga-ilog which means resident beside the river) is one of 8 dialects from 170 languages in our archipelago of 7,000 islands. Tagalog is the main dialect which is mixed with Spanish and the native indigenous tongue.
When did your family immigrate to the United States?
1977-my Papa & 1978 my Mama, brother & I 
Do you still have family in (insert country/ies)? 
Yes, we have families in the Philippine Islands & Barcelona, Spain.
The first generation that immigrated to the US in your family, are they still living?
Yes, both my parents are still living. 
Did that generation openly discuss their reasons for coming here or dreams, aspirations etc? 
We were under Martial Law under the former Dictator Ferdinand Marcos. My Mother worked for the Bank of Asia and used her connections with the Embassy to get us here to the USA.  We had all of our papers in order. 
Storytelling the fabric of many ethnic cultures.  Do you have stories that you have been told or tell that you cherish?
The main story of my lineage is the story or the youngest revolutionary General of the Spanish/American War, My Great-Uncle General Gregorio del Pilar from my Mother’s side of the family. There’s a second movie made about him which releases this month called “GOYO“.  He was half Spanish and fought against the colonization of the Spanish of 450 years in the Philippine Islands, thus the name which was named after their King Philippe of Spain. Because of our island’s archipelago of 7,000 islands, the Spanish roots are deeply embedded but rarely included when discussing the Latin influences mixed in with the indigenous roots of the Black Pygmies. I’d like to add that my Grandfather, my Mother’s father, Captain Alfredo del Pilar Samson, was in the US in the 20s for a few years as not only a Captain who served in the US Army but was also a secret agent, tailor, and boxer.  He told me about this when I was 12.  He was bed-ridden which was the last time I saw him before he returned to the essence when I was 15.
Do you have any family heirlooms, recipes etc that you pass down through your family? 
Yes, both.  Family heirlooms are mainly pieces of jewelry and yes various recipes my grandmother had but I remixed into a more organic and healthier version. 
What language was spoken in your home growing up?
Taglish (Tagalog & English)
Did you find it difficult growing up here with parents who were not from here? 
Sometimes it was difficult because they didn’t understand the streets that my brother & I had to survive in the barrios of Los Angeles.  I was blessed to have both parents with college degrees in business, and both came into the US as working professionals so, in that sense, my brother and I had a great start. 
Growing up, did you participate in any coming of age rituals? 
I decided to skip the traditional 18-year-old Debut.  I wanted to save that money for college.
As a mother, can you give an example or two of ways you have taught your children to be proud of their heritage? 
  1. I make sure we learn US History and World History. 
  2. We attend all the various cultural festivals that my family has in our bloodline and connect the dots of the various different heritages.
What is your take on the current administration and the outlook on immigration?
I know & understand change is constant. I see the current administration as a racist wild card & disgusting all in one. I call it a wild card because now, we, the people, can no longer stay complacent with its craziness. We must become more pro-active in whatever way we can, big or small. I feel sick literally watching the news so I can only take it in small dosages. There is a shift going on in our paradigm. Sadly, it will get worse before it gets better. There should still be respect and dignity given to all beings. In college, I learned that California was basically Mexico, so when they began to deport families and treat children in such an abusive way, I was appalled yet not surprised. This land belongs to the indigenous Mexican people. This country, after all, was built on blood and on the backs of African slaves and many other laborers brought onto this continent so what is happening is sadly not a shock for me. It just feels old. We must all do better with one another for our children.
Are there any organizations that you work with or donate money or time to that you would like to mention? 
My family & I support Paul Walker’s ROWW (Reach Out World Wide) who are the first responders to emergencies worldwide especially to places which no one will aide.  
Do you identify specifically to your heritage only (Puerto Rican, Mexican, South American, Cuban etc.) or do you identify as part of a Hispanic community and culture overall? 
I normally have to say “I am Filipino/Spanish, born in Manila with a mother who is also Filipino/Spanish/Mestiza mixed with a father who is indigenous to the islands.” 
What worries you about Hispanic culture?
I usually worry about division because just as there is an African Diaspora, I am not sure if that exists amongst my Latin family. Unity is Key. 
What are you most proud of? 
I am most proud of my Bloodline, the part of my family, who were freedom fighters/revolutionaries, artists, & business folks who were for the people’s liberation. 
What makes you laugh/happy? 
My son & family (including friends who are like family since we all have extended family everywhere.)
First Hispanic woman that pops into your mind...
Author – Julia de Burgos 
Legislator – Sonya Sotomayor 
Singer – Celia Cruz 
Musician – Linda Ronstadt 
Athlete – Rebecca Lobo 
Poet – Ariana Brown 
Actress – Rita Moreno 
Activist – Dolores Huerta 
Chef – Lorena Garcia 
Teacher – Rina Jakubowicz 
Mother – Maria Corazon Martinez Samson Marcelino (My own Mother)
Sister – Mercedes Martinez 
Dancer – Chita Rivera 
Scientist – Sabrina Gonzalez-Pasterski 
Doctor – Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias 
Comedienne – Shayla Rivera 
Social Media Influencer
Model – Joan Smalls 
Thank you for including me. I am simply honored to represent the part of history usually forgotten with where I am from. 450 years of Spanish colonization is a long time to not be included in Hispanic Heritage Month. 

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