When worlds mix - A rich kaleidoscope of thoughts and feelings

2nd Gen Filipino siblings on their mixed Filipino-European heritage and upbringing


For this issue of the “Roots and Wings” online magazine, we asked a group of second-generation Filipino siblings about their mixed Filipino-European heritage and upbringing. Thanks to Armando & Robert, Mariangela & Giulia, Mikhail & Marga, Cristina & Patrizia and Marc, who found time in their busy schedules to reflect on their mixed backgrounds, a rich kaleidoscope of thoughts and feelings has emerged. We hope you enjoy exploring them as much as we did!


The first topic we investigated was the self, asking our panelists about their experiences growing up in a multi-cultural family. All fully grown adults today, some with families of their own, there was a resounding appreciation for the value of diversity. However, multi-culturalism is a challenge when there is a need for true inclusion and many struggled with being different from their peers when younger, some more and some less, depending on how international their environment was. As expressed by Giulia: “Growing up it was sometimes a bit tougher because I didn’t like to draw attention to myself and being different makes you stand out.” Cristina said: “Growing up, I started appreciating my origins and reached the point of making my differences my strong suit in all aspects of life.” The transformation from outsider into one with privileged insight was best stated by Marga: “I feel like it is something beautiful as it has allowed me to see the world without boundaries or horizons, and the exposure to different cultures allows me to relate to others easily.”


The question of national identities was never a point of discussion in any of the families. As put by Armando: “My identity is not defined by either of my nationalities. I believe individual life experience plays a bigger role in one’s identity.” Mikhail commented that: “It’s more like the various identities co-exist.” However, Giulia does “encourage younger families to do so” and Marga recommends that we “expose [children] as much as possible to both roots and origins.” This can help overcome feelings of “being different”, and for which the family itself is the best support. As put by Mariangela: “There is an unspoken understanding that my sister is the only person in the world that shares the same cultural background and childhood events as me.”


In connection with friends and colleagues relating to the Filipino in our panelists, according to Robert: “I work in the Philippines, so if anything, Filipino colleagues tend to be more curious about my views on things related to the UK (like for example the Royal Family, the Beatles or Sherlock Holmes)” This was mirrored by Marc’s comments from London: “The fact is I’m not English and that sets me apart, so whether I’m Danish, French or Filipino makes no difference to most of them.” We see that those who are truly interested in enriching their knowledge, take the opportunity to learn from those who are different from them.


We asked our panelists what they like most about the Philippines and many recognised their innate love for Filipino food from mango and prawns to Jollibee sweet spaghetti sauce, lumpia, pastilles de leche and bistek Tagalog. The other shared Filipino love is for social gatherings, to spend time enjoying both friends and family (while eating good food).


The question whether the slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” is true, ignited a deep longing for the beautiful beaches and delicious food, massages, heightened by the warm weather and even warmer people, “but sometimes the family gets overprotective of you because you are a 'foreigner', adds Cristina. As summarized by Patrizia: “Yes. Filipinos are very friendly people; they like to have fun,” and Mariangela emphasizes this point with “No one throws a party like a Filipino!”


The union of Philippine and European culture has given birth to a generation of open and insightful young people, privileged to be born in interesting and distinct cultures. They gladly acknowledge their roots; clearly understand the challenges but feel that the various paths they take in life is what will ultimately define them.

Armando Manalo

Works in the banking industry in Manila. He is 33 years old, half English and half Filipino. English is his first language, but he also understands some Tagalog. As soon as travel restrictions are lifted, you are likely to find him enjoying the inspiring and underrated natural beauty of the Philippines.

“People would say that my most Filipino trait is my sense of time.”

Robert Manalo

works in commercial banking in Makati and finds that his commute to and from work is more eventful than anything he has experienced in other countries. He is 31 years old, half English and half Filipino. English is his first language, but he also understands some Tagalog and French. You are most likely to find him playing video games and chess or watching a movie.


“The Filipino in me enjoys Jollibee sweet spaghetti sauce.”

Giulia Giuliani

Works in the charity sector in London. She is 38 years old, half Italian and half Filipino. She speaks Italian, English, German and Spanish (but no Tagalog). You are most likely to find her involved in personal development through yoga, meditation, hypnotherapy, sudoku, reading, hiking and, most, recently roller skating.

“The most Filipino thing about me is that I sometimes raise my eyebrows to say yes.”

Mariangela Giuliani

Works in marketing in London. She is 40 years old, half Italian and half Filipino. She speaks Italian and English as well as some French, Japanese and Korean (but no Tagalog). You are most likely to find her cooking from scratch and volunteering for a local, community-led organic vegetable buying cooperative.

“The most Filipino thing about me is that I cook steamed rice to perfection.”

Mariangela & Giulia Giuliani, London

Marga Schemm

Works in fashion in Paris. She is 31 years old, half Swiss and half Filipino. She speaks English, German and Italian as well as some French and Spanish. She also understands a little Tagalog. You are most likely to find her enjoying music and the arts or spending time in nature – she always looks forward to enjoying every single visit back to the Pinas and the incredible nature on offer there.

“The most Filipino things about me are my love for sharing important moments with friends and family, and my love for food.”

Mikhail Schemm

Works in the culture, events and music industry. He has just moved from Manila to Rome. He is 34 years old, half Swiss and half Filipino. He speaks English, German and Italian as well as some French, Spanish and Tagalog. You are most likely to find him either indulging in his passion for culture and music or outdoors, bouldering, climbing and trekking.

Mikhail asks us all: What is it to be truly Filipino? when asked what is Filipino about him.

Patrizia Spagnolo

Works for the United Nations in Rome, as a budget officer. She is 34 years old, a quarter Lebanese, a quarter Italian and half Filipino. She speaks English, Italian and French and understands a little Tagalog. You are most likely to find her travelling or diving / playing tennis.


“Filipinos are a very religious people and the faith I have and my beliefs have been passed on to me, thanks to my Filipino side.”

Cristina Spagnolo

Works for the United Nations in Rome, in international development. She is 38 years old, a quarter Lebanese, a quarter Italian and half Filipino. She speaks English, Italian and French and understands a little tsismis. You are most likely to find her seeking calm through yoga, happiness through food and travelling to faraway lands for energy and excitement. Occasionally, she might be taking a random course such as Arabic lessons or African dances.

“The Filipino things about me are: having Maria added at the beginning of my name; love for food and a good massage; having lots of cousins who although living in other countries I feel close to.”

Marc Viarnaud

Works in strategy and finance in London. He is 38 years old, a quarter Danish, a quarter Filipino and half French. He speaks English, Italian and French and uses a few Tagalog expressions like ropero and malikot at home. You are most likely to find him playing football, analyzing numbers or reading up on the latest scientific studies.

“The most Filipino things about me are my sense of family, and it takes me ages to grow a beard.”

Tania Viarnaud

Works in the banking industry in Milan, specializing in strategy and communication. She is 40 years old, a quarter Danish, a quarter Filipino and half French. She speaks English, Italian and French but only knows a few words in Tagalog. It’s a mystery where you are likely to find her as the lockdowns have made her question all of her hobbies except for running and reading, but not at the same time.

“The most Filipino things about me are my strong family ties and my optimism.”