The Green Jins of California: Home away from home

Residing in the United States is nothing new for Filipinos, particularly because of the close-knit ties between the two countries that started early in the 20th Century. As their numbers continued to grow, so too did their presence, with the state of California being among the areas with a huge Filipino presence. Because of this, it may not be surprising to hear about the buzz surrounding Filipino-American Jordan Clarkson, who now plays point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers but was raised in San Antonio, Texas.

The LaSallian caught up with some of DLSU’s Green Jins who hail from the state of California. Rookie Mitch Agapito of Rancho Cucamonga, California and brothers Kyle and Kris Uy of Concord, California join the likes of former Green Archers Mike Cortez and Willy Wilson in taking their talents to the shores of the Philippines. The trio is currently pursuing their passion for Taekwondo while embracing a new culture. Though most Filipinos migrate to the States by taking the trans-pacific flight eastward across the Pacific Ocean, Mitch, Kris, and Kyle have chosen to do the opposite by flying westward to the Philippines.



When asked about how their families ended up in the United States, the Uy brothers shared how their parents were highschool sweethearts who met again as both migrated to the US.

“After talking with his parents, and some discussions, [my dad] decided to move there for work, and he met up with my mom again because they were highschool sweethearts, and then I think they’ve been living in [the United States] almost their whole lives after college,” Kris said.

Meanwhile, Agapito shared that his father was already raised in the United States as a child, while his mother moved in for work, after which they eventually met and settled down there. In the end, the Uy brothers and Agapito were born and raised in the state of California until they found their way back to Manila.


Maintaining close Filipino ties

Amidst growing up in the States all their lives, the Green Jin Filipino-Americans still maintained at least some semblance of their Filipino heritage due to the large Filipino community in California. Much like the strong religious practices here, the three could relate to attending Filipino masses and their parents’ active engagement in the local parish. Similar to most Filipino households, a festive potluck party would usually follow.

“Back home, well my parents are really involved in Church,” Agapito shared. “So we have a Filipino choir so they always go to Simbang Gabi and all of the Filipino masses.”

When asked about how different the Filipino culture is to the American lifestyle, all three shared that the biggest difference between both cultures lies in family. “Here in the Philippines, it’s a lot more community-oriented as opposed to the States, where you normally do things on your own,” Kris added.

The younger of the Uy brothers, Kyle, expressed his admiration for the resilient Filipino spirit.

“I like the idea that no matter how tough your life is, that you’re going to work through it,” the junior Green Jin said. “And that’s what I really like about Filipinos is that even though times are hard in this third world [country], they still work hard to live as much as they can.”

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Best of both homes

All three Jins mentioned that they miss their family and friends on the other side of the world. Other than their loved ones however, all three commonly shared their desire for American cuisine back home.

“I miss the hamburgers back home in the States, like from In-N-Out. I’d definitely bring In-N-Out to the Philippines,” Kyle said.

“I personally miss the portion sizes,” Kris added. “I’m a pretty big guy so I naturally eat a lot. I’d want to bring over the ice cream, which is my favorite. There’s this place back home with a single scoop that is the size of a softball! If we could bring that over here then that would be great.”

Despite missing the cuisine from home, the California-based Jins expressed their appreciation for Filipino cuisine, particularly street food. Agapito mentioned, “I like stuff like kikiam and kwek-kwek. The thing about the street food [here in the Philippines] is that it’s 24/7, you can get it late at night unlike in the States.”

“I’d love to bring home the slow roasted lechon manok from the street,” Kris added. “It’s amazing.”

Despite being a thousand miles away from home, the Green Jins of California still feel that sense of “home”, given that they have each other, their teammates and coaching staff, and the entire Lasallian community to support them both on and off the mats.

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