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“Did she mean the Blondes Ate? No, maybe The Blind Date? Wait no, I think it’s supposed to say the blondes date?” NO! No! Annnd No! But being that my knowledge of Tagalog and Filipino culture is fairly new I thought it best to explain the history behind the hashtag name of our 3 girls, #theblondeates.
On September 13, 1949 Fe Esperanza Andijan was born in Negros Occidental, Philippines. She would go on to work and live in Manilla, Hong Kong and other various cities in Asia and have her first 2 sons.
In 1978 she would meet Billy Ryan from Oklahoma in Hong Kong. They would date and then go to Manilla and marry. On January 1, 1981 she would make the journey with Billy from the Philippine Capital City of Manila to the United States of America and the city of New Orleans. Billy worked off shore so being in New Orleans would allow easy access to the rigs where he would be working. In May 1981, Fe Esperanza, gave birth to the man my girls call Daddy and the guy with the best dimples anyone ever did see, Rhiannon “Rooster” Ryan.
Fe would stay and raise Rooster and his sister, Rae Ann, in New Orleans. She would then bring her 2 older sons from the Philippines to live with them. She would work hard in New Orleans, running 46 souvenir shops and finally having her own booth in the French Market for over 20 years.
In 2008 her son, Rooster and I would marry and I would begin learning all about things like the importance of Rice (The life line of the culture). Pancit, the delicious meal served at birthdays and celebrations and represents long life. The karaoke that goes down at almost every gathering. (If you are curious I make Cameron Diaz in My Best Friends Wedding sound amazing!) Work ethic drilled in them from birth. And my most favorite, the beautiful tight knit, connected, community.
Since we always lived far away from family-I learned this first hand when I met my now best friend, Maria, who happens to be a Pinay (beautiful Filipino lady). A longer story for another day, but in a nutshell our friendship came to fruition at her mothers house. My new friend, would learn my husband is a Filipino and invite us over to a birthday dinner her mother was hosting and BAM we found home away from home along with rice, pancit, adobo, lumpia (AKA yummiest egg rolls of life) and you got it, karaoke. All of it, right in our little Florida town. This family became our family. “Tita” (aunt in Tagalog) as my girls know her would demonstrate to them from birth and even moving abroad the importance of community. She has visited us in the UAE and she always welcomes us home with open arms, as does her entire family. Our children are like siblings. We are her son Ryan’s godparents and our husbands are best friends. We are family.
Living in the UAE we have been able to experience the Filipino love for community in an amazing way. My husband works with a few awesome Filipino families who have taken us in as their own. We have a lovely Filipina nanny, Eblyn, to love on our girls. She has introduced them to pandesal, Jollibee, Tagalog church services and more! She is even attempting to teach us Tagalog.
One day I noticed the Filipina girls frequently calling each other “Ate” (pronounced At-tay). “What does that mean exactly?” I asked. (Obviously, my Tagalog has a ways to go.) The response, “Sister or big sister.” “Interesting!” I responded. I began to notice it being said randomly in the house and by others more and more where it just kind of stuck.
The thing about my girls is, they are not fluent in Tagalog (yet!). They didn’t get the beautiful, dark shiny hair or the dark brown eyes like their NaNay and their Daddy. They got exactly what both Nanay and he prayed for, heads full of blonde hair and light eyes. So here we are with my stunning quarter Pinay’s with blonde hair. This is when it hit me, the blonde ates is the best representation of them and their beautiful mashed up heritage that I love ever so much.
There you have it the story behind the crazy hashtag/Instagram name #theblondeates and behind their beautiful Nanay who made it happen. Our hope that is in 2020 we can visit the Philippines with Nanay and allow, The Blonde Ates (and mommy) to learn more about their heritage and enjoy its beautiful landscape.
Please, join our instagram, @teamryanadventures and follow #theblondeates as they go on adventures, give reviews and experience all life has to offer between the ordinary and extravagant.