I told myself in my last blog that I was going to stay on time with these, but here I am again, again late. So, I’ll give this another quick try and hopefully I’ll be back on track come December 10th.
I’ve actually been thinking about writing this particular blog since October, thanks to both my own birthday and the birth of my new nephew. All throughout growing up, my family has always been proud of our family name. Family names in general are quite important to Filipinos, since often times the first thing a stranger you’ve just met asks you is what your last name is, and where your parents are from. While many of the “old school” tend to use our family names to pass some initial judgement over the people they meet, those of us of a younger generation for the most part really couldn’t care less. However, I find myself right in the middle, because as I’ve grown up, I’ve always been proud of our family name and our family history.
While details still remain a bit sketchy, according to my father, we can trace our family name back to the surrounding area of Madrid, Spain. I’ve actually researched it a little myself and based on what I’ve found, I can pretty much confirm what my father has been told all these years. Also according to my father and corroborated by my aunt (his sister), one of my great grandfathers was a relatively famous Philippine Army general who helped liberate a village in The Philippines, and supposedly to this day, all Ausejos get some sort of special treatment whenever they visit the village. However, without any means of confirming this (short of visiting this village), I really can’t say if this is true or not. On the other hand, I know for a fact that my father’s father was a Lt. Colonel in the Philippine Army during World War II and he and a few others escaped from the Bataan Death March. Had he not escaped, there’s no telling what would’ve happened to my father, and thus I might not even be around today.
On my mother’s side, her family name is Ham, but that’s actually a bit of a misnomer since when her grandfather came over from China, the last name was actually “Tam,” and he changed it to Ham supposedly to make it easier to fit in. That didn’t end up working out so well though, since even my mother was teased throughout most of school because of her last name. My mother’s father also fought in World War II, but he wasn’t able to escape the Japanese before he was tortured. I heard about the things that were done to him and even to this day it makes me sick.
As fate would have it, these two family names would meet in Manila during college and become one family, with my older brother and I being there to carry on the family name. About 10 years ago, an Ausejo family reunion took place in San Francisco, and I was able to meet half a dozen of my father’s cousins. Each one of them was very successful, and the eldest one (a surgeon from Chicago) pulled me aside to tell me how he can see “The Ausejo Charm” in me (apparently, we’re great with the ladies) and encouraged me to be the best I can be to carry on the family name. These words of encouragement were quite uplifting, but at the same time they also seemed to put some pressure on me. Was my choice of career going to be enough to reach these high standards set forth by the Ausejo clan? On top of that, what about my responsibility to carry on the family name to my yet-to-be-born son?
I’d like to think that in the 10 years following, I did pretty well for myself in the career area, but my current unmarried status isn’t really doing much for the carrying on the family name part. As I’ve gotten older, more and more pressue has been put on me not just to get married, but to have a son. Although it might seem more important for my parents that the family name is continued, I myself also see it as being very important too, which of course has stressed me out. However, when we found out earlier this year that my brother and his wife were going to have a baby boy, it was almost as if a big weight was lifted off my back.
Little baby Alec was born in September, and at least now I feel like part of my responsibility is gone. Nevertheless, I still very much want a son of my own eventually. I definitely want to help contribute to everyone remembering the Ausejo name past my own lifetime.
Armin H. Ausejo is a Filipino American born and raised in Seattle, WA. He currently works as a Marketing Director and Photographer. For more information, please visit his website: ArminAusejo.com