miércoles, 24 de junio de 2009

¿Son los filipinos realmente asiáticos? - Are Filipinos really Asian?

Queridos amigos (English below)

En las página de YouTube existe un debate sobre la identidad filipina, y concretamente si el pueblo filipino es verdaderamente asiático. La mayoría son opiniones (Vlogs - en video) de jóvenes filipinos residentes fuera del archipiélago. Como es normal, conocen poco de su propia historia, pero parecen gente receptiva e interesada en nuevas opiniones e información objetiva. A continuación reproduzco lo que les he escrito a varios de ellos. He sacado bastante información de las contribuciones al foro de varios queridos contertuilios, especialmente Guillermo Gomez Rivera y el profesor Fernando Zialcita, que es experto en la materia. Abrazos a todos.

Dear friends,

There is an on-going debate on YouTube regarding the identity of Filipinos and whether Filipinos are really Asian. Most opinions (through Vlogs) are those of young Filipinos living outside the Philippines. As you can imagine, they do not know a lot about Philippine history (except for the basics) but they seem receptive and open to new opinions and information. Below is a message I sent some of them, giving some insight to Filipino identity, specially that related to the Hispanic component. For this, I have used information from messages by fellow members of this Circulo, especially Guillermo Gomez Rivera, and professor Fernando Zialcita who is an expert on this issue. Regards to all. Happy reading.


Much of the trouble with understanding Philippine identity comes from a lack of historical knowledge. Philippine history texts since the early 1900's have attempted to change Filipinos' own interpretation and understanding of history, particularly that of the colonial period. A number of historical stereotypes about the Spanish colonial period (and Spanish language) were created by the US administration at the beginning of the 20th century, in order to pave the way for American rule. For example: the general Spanish "oppression" , the "abuses of the friars", the "keeping Filipinos ignorant" and "not teaching the Spanish language to the natives", or the "Americans bringing democracy and civilization to the Philippines" . This is just an example of the many stereotypes and historical exaggerations which were taught to the population generation after generation, through revised history texts, to make the new American rulers appear as liberators of the Philippine people. It was a sort of historical propaganda through the national education system, which has taken root in the Philippine conscience ever since. But even nowadays, a century later, a time when information flows rapidly thanks to the internet and TV, Filipinos still believe many of these stereotypes to be true, and still consider the Spanish colonial period to have been basically "terrible".

I will not address any of these stereotypes to avoid making this message endless, but feel free to ask me about any of them, and I'll be happy to explain why they are basically untrue. The question is that these exaggerations about Philippine history, together with important omissions of historical facts, have created a sort of identity crisis, and even a "self-hatred" of Filipinos towards their own cultural roots. The reason is simple: Filipinos are a nation of Hispanic + Austronesian heritage (just like Mexicans are a nation of Hispanic + Aztec or Mayan heritage). But Filipinos have been taught to hate the Hispanic part of their heritage. Even worse, many elements of this Hispanic heritage have been hidden from them. A quick example: most Filipinos think the Spanish language was never spoken by more than 1 or 2% of the population at any given time, whic is untrue: Spanish was the language of trade, education, politics, literature and even the language of everyday life in the big cities like Manila and Cebu. The first Philippine State also chose Spanish as its official language. So by hiding or minimizing these important historical facts, many Filipinos generally think "they are not Hispanic". Plus, they don't speak Spanish and only know "negative" things about the Spanish colonial history. They even consider other Spanish-speaking Filipinos to be snobs or "descendants of the oppressors", which is ridiculous. So with these omissions and negative ideas about their past, the Philippine society has been alienated from its cultural identity.

Which brings us back to the "Are Filipinos really Asian" question. There is obviously no such thing as an "Asian culture". But if we can talk about an "East Asian" or "Oriental" culture, Filipinos are definitely NOT part of it. They stand out in Asia because they are Catholic, they write in the Latin Alphabet, they have Spanish names, they celebrate Easter, they celebrate "barrio fiestas", they have beautiful 17th century churches all over the islands, their traditional music and dances are Hispanic, their traditional clothes are Caribbean (the barong tagalog is a Philippine version of the Latin American guayabera), they eat "adobo", "lechon" and "tortas", they greet each other with a simple handshake (they don't bow, or put their palms together in front of their forehead), their national currency is called "Peso", and their classical literature is in Spanish.

So, if identity is about 1) geography, 2) race, and 3) culture, then the question "Are Filipinos really Asian" is ALL about culture. It is not about geography because the Philippines is obviously in Southeast Asia. It could be about race, but there is no such thing as an "Asian" race. So the question is very much about the culture of Filipinos. And because most people ignore the whole Hispanic element in Philippine culture, is why they cannot understand how Filipinos are so "different". The reason they are different is because the Philippines is an Hispanic-Asian country with many cultural elements common to Latin America. This makes it an outstanding country in terms of culture, as it blends Southeast Asian elements with Chinese, and more recently with Northamerican, all on a centuries-old Hispanic base.

So the answer to the question "Are Filipinos really Asian" is: yes from a geographical point of view, maybe from a racial point of view, but HARDLY from a cultural point of view.


Autor: D. Javier Ruescas.

10 comentarios:

  1. I like this article. It's very informative. However, I have experienced something contrary to what has been included in this post.

    " They even consider other Spanish-speaking Filipinos to be snobs or "descendants of the oppressors", which is ridiculous" --- not at all ridiculous. I used to go into this gym in Makati where there was a man in his 60's I guess, who looked mestizo and spoke spanish to his "alalay" or "yaya". Anyway, this guy would always switch the TV channel to TVE to watch some spanish show. One time I was watching MTV while on the threadmill when he came, switched the TV in front of me to TVE and went on to the threadmill next to me to use it. So naturally I was pissed off! But of course being civilized, I calmly approached the guy and asked in English if I could possibly switch the TV back to MTV since I was watching it. Guess what? Nothing! Nada! Zilch! Like he didn't even see me or hear me! I wonder why? Is it because I spoke English? Is it because I look like a "katutubo?" Hahahaha yeah right!

    I guess pinoys do have some reasons to brand these tisoys as snobbish. If it happened to me, it could have happened to others too.

    Good day! Mabuhay!

  2. That guy was being a jerk, of course, but that's hardly something 'mestizos' have a monopoly on.

    Let me assure you, though, that Spanish speaking Filipinos (and there are still a lot more of them than most people think) don't act like that. As a matter of fact, most won't even speak Spanish in public at all for fear of prejudice and pre-conceived notions of snobbishness.

  3. no entiendo el ingles, pero seguro que estos comentarios anglosajones son para provocar aqui en este blog, venga saludos a filipinas i que ojala hableis el idioma español todos jejeje, ya que el idioma español , es el mas multicultural del mundo, i por tanto el mejor que ahi en el mundo, vease hispania i sus idiomas jeje viene.... del latin, arabe,hispania romana, visigodo, iberom suevo, vandalo,griego, i mas culturas en ese tiempo de iberia e hispania, venga un beso a todos i en especial a todos los que tenga algo de la raza española en sus genes, nos vemos.

  4. Amigos y amigas filipinas deseo compartir musica, literatura, fotografias, videos, noticias, soy Colombiano, a pesar de las dintancias nos unen lazos comunes, mi e-mail es marcopinzon123@yahoo.es

  5. Tama ka nga dahil maliban sa Thailand lahat ng bansa sa Asia ay napsailalim ng pamamahala ng mga taga Europa. Idonesia - Dutch, Vietnam - France, China- Britain. Pero bakit ang mga Kastila sa Espana hindi nila itinuturing ang sarili nilang Arabics, hindi ba napasailalim din sila sa mga Moors na nagsasalita ng Arabe, pitong daang taon, samantala ang Pilipinas ay napasailim ng Espana ng 330 taon. At saka halos lahat ng bansa sa Europa ay napasailalim ng mga Romano kaya nga kumalat ang relihiyong Katoliko sa Europa (hindi Espana lang ang Katoliko sa Europa) pero bakit ang kultura nila ay hindi tinatawag na Latino?

  6. I saw the Colombian movie Nuestra Senora de los Sicarios and read the book too, both in Spanish. He tratado a aprender Castillano por casi veinte años por mi cuenta (desde que llegué aqui en Norte America) pero todavia no he tenido exito. La unica razon es que nadie en mi familia habla Castillano. Adivina que? Soy Filipina, morena y orgullosa por ser.

  7. First of all hating the Spaniards for having conquered the Philippines is wrong. The ones who did it are all now dead and nothing can be done about it. In the Spanish movies I have seen which have all been about Spain nowadays, they advocate acceptance of differences: creed, color, sexuality (remember that movie where Penelope Cruz' character was a nun who got pregnant by Esteban, a transvestite with boobs? I forgot the title of the movie), economic status, etc.

    I will be humble to say that we do not stand out among Asian countries. As for food, lechon, adobo, embutido, morcon are rich Filipinos food. For everyday, it is bulanglang, pinakbet, sinigang, paksiw, nilaga, tuyo. daing and sometimes "dildil" with bagoong and asin for the majority of the people like me. Not to mention lumpia, lugaw, goto, siopao, hopia, pansit and Kare-Kare. Also there is a food called Patupat among the Visayans, which is Petupat in Malaysia. Tortas, yeah but isn't that omelette also, well known to English speaking people? As for greetings from what I have seen among the Hispanics in US, they kiss each other on both cheeks, we do not. Both of my grandmothers (one was Kapampangan the other Bicolana) wore blouses which did not have the Maria Clara sleeves like the kind you see on the old pictures. My grandmothers' blouses were square neck blouses with very small flutter like sleeves and their arms showed. The women in my Bicolana grandma's place wore a tubular type of skirt with no waistband, no hooks, just twisting and they walked about in their hometown barefoot. The churches? Oh yes no one can deny it is because of the Spaniards.

  8. Saludos a los filipinos y saludos los demás también. Desde Praga

  9. ya que empezaste el comentario escribiendo en castellano, podrias tener al menos la gentileza de publicar tambien en castellano los informes que publicas en ingles. Los que no sabemos ingles, ¿como demonios vamos a entender lo que dices? saludos, no me sirvio de nada el comentario que pusiste, pero gracias igual

  10. Saludos a todos, soy Filipino de sangre, resido actualmente fuera de mi querido archipiélago. Mi respuesta a esta pregunta es la siguiente: No solo entramos en la zona denominada Asiática, sino que además pertenecemos al sudeste Asiático. Soy muy asiático y nadie podrá enfrentarse a Asia.
    Menos con esas preguntas tan estúpidas.