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.
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.
ARE FILIPINOS REALLY ASIAN?
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.
Publicado por @Canal de Filipinas.