A matter of the heart

By Herman M. Lagon

Amidst the hustle and bustle, a complex fabric of identities intertwines with the archipelago’s history. The essence of being Filipino is not just about nationality or cultural identity; it is truly a matter of the heart.

One striking manifestation of this sentiment is Justin Brownlee, a basketball phenom who once played for the U.S. and was naturalized as a Filipino in early 2023. Dubbed “Justin Noypi,” Brownlee did not merely adopt the Philippines as his second home. He internalized it. Brownlee has demonstrated an unequivocal love for his adoptive nation, from delivering on-court golden heroics for Gilas Pilipinas in the Asian Games to showcasing unwavering dedication by becoming a Filipino citizen. His impact resonates in arenas and the shared joy of Filipinos celebrating a victory as one.

Similarly, the journey of Canadian vlogger Kyle Jennermann, affectionately known as “Kulas,” is a testament to the Philippines’ allure. His YouTube channel “Becoming Filipino” does not just spotlight the country’s beauty but epitomizes his transformation. It is not just about the scenic locales but the infectious spirit of happiness that Filipinos inherently possess. Like Brownlee, Kulas’ choice to officially become a Filipino goes beyond paperwork—it is a profound connection to the Filipino soul.

Even in the realm of business, the Philippines has charmed hearts. Australian entrepreneur Peter Leslie Wallace, a country resident for four decades, has consistently contributed to the nation’s business landscape. His dedication and love for the country have been palpable enough for the Philippines to embrace him as one of their own officially.

These stories embody the ideals of being Filipinos for Filipinos. These individuals, from varied backgrounds, have seamlessly woven themselves into the Filipino tapestry, underscoring the notion that love and service transcend borders.

Being Filipino, thus, is a rich amalgamation of shared experiences, memories, and, most importantly, shared emotions. Whether through the thrilling victory of a basketball game, the allure of a vlog capturing the heart of a festival, or the commitment of a businessman who has made the nation his home, being Filipino is about embracing and being embraced by the heart of a nation.

This intricate tapestry of cultures, emotions, and experiences creates an undeniably unique Filipino identity. The essence remains the same whether born into it or embraced by choice. Moreover, as history has often shown, from the heroism of Jose Rizal to the modern-day stories of Brownlee, Kulas, and Wallace, being Filipino is, indeed, at its core, a matter of the heart.


Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.