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When Turtles Come Home: A Memoir on Life in the Philippines

When Turtles Come Home: A Memoir on Life in the Philippines

Author(s): Victoria Hoffarth

Location(s): The Philippines

Genre(s): Autobiography/Memoirs

Era(s): Later 20th Century

When Victoria Hoffarth was at graduate school in the U.S., her lecturer, the anthropologist Margaret Mead, once told her class, “There are so many varied places in the world. It is incumbent upon us to search for one where we most fit.” Thus, despite having been born and brought up in the Philippines, Victoria never felt at home there. And so, she became a cultural refugee, searching for where she most fitted.

Her engaging and intimate narrative remembers back to the early 50s, when her little town was still recovering from the destruction caused by World War II, through thirty years of discontented wanderings to America and back, then onwards to the UK, Germany, and Canada. Victoria delves into Philippine culture, what is unique to their society and what can be learned by the wider world. Likewise, she suggests what Filipinos can learn from the wider world.  She further questions what it is to be Filipino, and if she can call herself that? Are you no more than where you are born and raised? A liberal globalist, two other issues uppermost to her are her being a woman in a setting where feminism is frowned upon, and her beliefs as an “a-la-carte” Roman Catholic, given the mindset of a deeply conservative and traditional society.

Much more than a memoir, this is the story of finding yourself and learning to look beyond what you know to find home – even if that is where you first began.

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