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patulong mga kaibigan

seryosong wala akong tulog at sinulat ko 'to kaya maraming kailangan ayusin. can you guys go over this paper just to check any errors, loopholes, unclear points, things like that. also i'm pretty sure i'm going to end up changing the personal disclaimer statement at the beginning of this paper. i need to remember to mention that i a not an activist. i dont like forcing people to do stuff. so there.

basic instruction is this: Identify a social issue that you care about and discuss how you would use something that you learned in class to engae in social change aroud the issue.

to my knowledge, only dedicating one page to social change does not completely fulfill the basic instruction. so anyway, pabayaan nyo lang yun... just, if you guys have time, please read this. it's not due til tuesday but i've got to seriosuly study so i had to write this asap... kind of. so. there.

love you guys.

and here is the paper.

Filipino Americans: The Silent Minority




I spent the first months of my life on American soil. Some time soon after my birth I was brought back to the Philippines. My mother has often told me there was a reason I was born in America: the blessed Blue Passport, my ticket to every corner of the globe, my ticket to education whose caliber cannot be found in the Philippines, my ticket to opportunities, money and success, my ticket to the land of White men. Anyway, I grew up in the Philippines, spent the first 17 years of my life in a land of… well, heat, pollution, traffic jams, and corruption from those in power… every stereotype of a “third world country” is most probably true in the Philippines. But I grew up in what I like to call the upper middle class. I got a good education. I made good friends. I had a roof above my head all the time, food on the table, vacations to Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore, regular trips to the US… things that pretty much the majority of Filipinos don’t get. So you can say I was, am, lucky.


I will confess that I didn’t think very highly of the mostly poor masses. I never liked their taste in movies, which of course what was always produced by the entertainment industry in the Philippines so, aside from less than five maybe, I never watched a Filipino movie. I never understood what in the world they were thinking when they voted in the eventually booted out President Estrada. I grew out of telanovelas (very popular among the masses; we do like our escapism) pretty quickly and never watched another soap opera after the age of 11 maybe. I was called “conyo”, which pretty much means that I was a high class, does not associate with the masses, kind of person, which I was/am. There was a reason after all that one of my lowest grades ever was from the only class taught in Filipino, Filipino. I was a better English speaker than a Filipino speaker. I liked shows like Buffy, Friends, CSI. I watched movies that were produced by Hollywood. Basically I grew up immersed in American culture and subconsciously and partly consciously, I was not particularly proud of things I associated with the “massa” Filipino.


So I graduated high school in June 2005 then I started college here. Suddenly I was barraged with the question “why do you speak without an accent? You have such good English!” And I had to ask myself, in a serious kind of manner and not just a passing thought kind of way, ‘why is it, Keisha, that you were so… Americanized in the Philippines that you were never “culturally shocked” when you finally got here?’ That’s why I joined Psych 340: Filipino-American Decolonization Experience. My agenda in that class (and consequently this paper), after I finally got over my denial of the problems imbedded in the Filipino-American community and my role in it, was to learn more about this community that I, by virtue of my blood and lineage, my Blue Passport, my fondness for America TV and my future here in this country, am a part of so that I can spare the people near and dear to me (future or otherwise) from the problems we have now. I want to help my cousins realize that, hey, they’re Filipino too and not just American. I want my future children to learn Filipino, even if I myself am horrible at it. I want them to know how to be empowered Filipino-Americans by becoming one myself.


Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in History


It was not until 1571 that King Phillip II’s army conquered the natives of the Philippine Islands that had been ‘discovered’ by Ferdinand Magellan some 50 years before. What followed was more than 300 years of oppression from Spanish conquerors. In 1898 following the Treaty of Paris, Spain sold the Philippines for $20 million dollars to the United States of America. After more than 400 years of foreign subjugation, in July 4, 1946 America granted the Philippines their independence. That in a nutshell is the history of the Philippines till 1942. Not stated are nuances of this prolonged subjugation that still affect Filipinos, either living in the Philippines or surviving on every corner of this planet.


Spain, for some three hundred years, called the natives of the land “indios”, made them their slaves, denied them a proper education, told them they were inferior in every way, raped and pillaged them. Meanwhile, the natives were made to believe that their treatment was only right because it was the price of becoming civilized, after all, without the advent of the Spanish invasion, they would still be savage uncivilized people. It was rather brilliant of them really to even use the Catholic Church as an “in” with the natives. From the priest’s pulpit, the “indios” were taught to fear hell and obey Spanish law so that they would become civilized and avoid the fiery pits. Spaniards spend decades after decades of instilling “colonial debt” in the natives, it is no wonder that even to this day, Filipinos carry this with them in one form or another.


American invaders only reinforced this sense of “colonial debt” which is still promulgated to this day. Official discourse in the Philippines characterizes Philippine-American relations as “special”. Filipinos were the “little brown brothers” and the Americans were the givers of democracy. And yet, Filipino’s seem to have forgotten that there was a Philippine-American War (not an insurrection as it is called in American history). After the treaty of Paris, Filipinos did not give up their hard one independence freely and the war lasted three years. It only ended through some devious warfare on the part of the Americans. But this war was buried in the history books. It was deemed a hitch in the plans for eventual self-government, a “misguided, even stupid, rejection of a gift of further enlightenment” (Ileto, nd). It is oft said that it is the winners that write the history books, and it was never as evident as in the written history of the Philippines.


Americans did many things differently than the Spanish. One of the most important deviations from the colonial style of the Spaniards was the establishment of schools. It was in the schools that the native Filipinos were taught to revere America, the “land of milk and honey”. Consequently, many Filipinos dreamed of leaving their poor land and live the American Dream. Thus began one of the major waves of migrants from the Philippines to America. What was not taught in the Philippine schools was that discrimination was rampant in America. Filipino immigrants would not be granted rights afforded by American citizens since they were only American naturals and therefore no better than dogs, as one sign prohibiting Filipinos and dogs from entering an establishment. But did Filipinos fight for their rights? Not many, maybe there were some written works about it, but was there real action? No, because, after all, colonial debt states that Americans saved Filipinos, discrimination is the price to pay.


The process of colonialism, either applied in the Philippines or every other conquered land across the globe, is a systemized denigration of the native that allows the foreign conqueror to invade the people, physically, psychologically and emotionally.  The classical colonial model described my Frantz Fanon in 1965 states that the first three stages of colonialism (territorial invasion with intent to exploit natural resources of the ‘discovered’ land, establishment of colonial society then the creation of the distinction between invaded and invader) leads to the fourth and final phase that involves the ‘establishment of a race-based societal system in which the political, social, and economic institutions in the colony are designed to benefit the colonizer and continually subjugate the colonized’ (David, 2006). Unfortunately, once the invaders have left, major traces of this “race-based societal system” still exist, even to this day.


The question now is what are these traces and what are their effects in the Filipino-American community, surrounded as they are by the majority White?


The Silence of Colonial Mentality


Colonial Mentality is characterized “by a perception of ethnic or cultural inferiority” (David, Okazaki, and web). It is the legacy of the colonial history of the Philippines. As a result of the systematic denigration by colonizers, the colonized comes to accept the stereotypes imposed on them by the invaders. They come to view themselves as inferior to the White man who became the ideal. Consequently, the native will reject everything that he views as inferior, his culture, his people, himself. The native will strive to become like his conqueror. This internalized oppression is exactly what happened to the Filipinos under subjugation by the Spanish and then the Americans.


Through familial socialization, these feelings of cultural inferiority are passed down through generations. In Filipino families (America based or otherwise) it is not uncommon for the parents to imply that being dark is ugly and that the children should stay out of the sun. There are also instances that parents would pinch their children’s noses for no other reason than to make the noses “taller” like the White Man’s nose. Parents also pressure their children to migrate to other countries plainly stating that the Philippines would never be able to provide all their financial needs. Girls are told to “marry up” by marrying a White man. All of these will make the children realize that being Filipino is inferior to being White, thus colonial mentality is passed down across time and oceans.


Filipino immigrants are particularly familiar with American culture thus assimilation is fast and more or less easy. However this did not equate to a particularly superb community. Problems include high suicide ideation and attempt rates among teenagers, high depression rates in adults, and high incidences of AIDS/HIV infection, teenage pregnancies, eating disorders and drug and alcohol abuse. In the area of education, the Filipino American population has one of the highest dropout rates among high school students and lower admission and graduation rates in college. Despite high education attainment in the Filipino immigrant population, they still yield one of the lowest socioeconomic returns with respect to jobs and salaries, especially in comparison to other members of the Asian American population. There is also limited representation of the community in government and even in the entertainment industry in spite of the fact that the community is the second largest Asian American population. However the research on Filipino Americans is very limited even with all the problems that community seems to be facing.


It is highly possible that colonial mentality can be blamed for these problems hidden in the Filipino- American community. First, the idea that the White Man is superior to the Filipino may lead many Filipino Americans, immigrants in particular, to satisfy themselves with jobs and salaries that do not reflect their true capabilities. They may feel that because they are inferior and foreign, the White Man deserves the higher paying job more. Perhaps also, they may think that because they were educated in a “third world” country, they would have weaker skills. Then there is of course the discrimination they suffer in the work setting that they simply swallow because that is their “price to pay”. Second, this rejection of the cultural self brought about by the familial socialization of colonial mentality leads to confusion especially in young adolescents. Because they are not fully educated in the colonial history of the Philippines, what little they know of their history makes them think that Filipinos were weak savages who were easily subdued because they were worthless. This confusion is exasperated by oppression and discrimination by the majority. David and Okazaki suggest that these lead to all the problems in the Filipino American community.


Who are the Filipino Americans?


  • The Immigrant Parents


On any given business day, the lines in front of the US Embassy in the Philippines are pretty much comparable to the Great Wall of China. The much coveted US Visa is worth waking up at the crack of dawn, battling Manila’s morning traffic, and standing in line either in the sweltering heat or in the pouring rain. After all, the Filipino dream is to live in America, get lots of money and meet a man that belongs to the same race as Brad Pitt… or at the very least meet Brad Pitt. The dream has been around since the Thomasites of the US occupation taught in the new schools that America is the “land of milk and honey”, failing of course to mention that you need to be White or at the very least battle ready to get said milk and honey. Filipino immigrants work hard at jobs that are mostly thankless. They may even be forced to hold down two jobs just to make ends meet, feed their children and send them to good schools in hopes that they’re sacrifices are enough to give their children chances they, the immigrant parents, never got while living in the Philippines.


Unfortunately they never have enough time or energy to focus on their children and learn about the problems their children face in school. Aside from the possible physical exhaustion that leads them to ignore the issues their children face, it is also possible that they’re just not willing to understand why their children can not just stomach their problems and just get through the day. They do it themselves after all. When their co-workers laugh at them for their foreign Filipino accents and habits, the immigrants themselves will laugh along, denying whatever hurt they may actually feel. It is the White Man who is laughing, and of course it’s no use fighting for their rights because the White Man will always win. It’s also not worth it to try banding with other discriminated “fresh off the boat” Filipino Americans because this denial of their suffering is pretty much a mass phenomenon in this community.


  • The Second Generation Children


It is pretty normal for parents and their adolescent children to be divided by the generation gap, however in the Filipino American community, we add the culture gap. The immigrant parents would like to raise their children in the tradition that they themselves were raised in. Unfortunately this may clash with dominant American values that the children see their peers adhering to. This creates conflict between the parents and the children. Girls are especially caught in this conflict. It is not uncommon for Filipino parents to give their daughters earlier curfew than their sons. It is only natural for these girls to rebel more especially if they see that their White female peers have the same check in time as their brothers. In general, children are pressured to do well in school because their parents sacrificed blood and sweat to give their children these educational opportunities.


Discrimination, as rampant as it is, touches the children too even if they are without “strange foreign accents”. They are Brown, not White, therefore the majority will treat them as insignificant. Like their parents, they ignore this prejudice and continue on as they were, tolerating the racism. They accept and tolerate it because they have been shown by their parents that being Brown was to be irrelevant in the country. The internalized oppression carried on from the colonial history of the Philippines lives on with in them in the form of colonial mentality. This rejection of the cultural self, as previously stated, is not particularly healthy. Add to this the pressure from the parents get to the children thus leading to the disturbing mentioned in this paper, i.e. high rates of suicide ideation and attempts, teenage pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.


  • The Majority


“Tacos and Tequilas”, “Hollywood in the Hood” and “Ghetto Fabulous” are three parties where young educated people got drunk and had a good time. However each of these parties became the reflection of the blatant racism still existing in today’s society, educated or not. What is truly tragic is that these organizers who were supposedly getting a “good education from a diverse university” even thought of such bigoted themes. If society was truly diverse, then the thought of holding a party called “Tacos and Tequilas” where people would dress as Mexicans who were farmers, gang members and pregnant women, as if that was all they were as a community, would never have been seriously considered. Yet these actions are not particularly surprising when the “institutionalized racism” particularly in this campus is taken into consideration. Racism was given an invitation to fester by the administration who refused “to take prompt, decisive action” against the instigators of the “Tacos and Tequilas” party (DI, Dec. 8 ’06). The privileged White Society is still so used to being the conqueror that even though the era of colonialism is technically long past (only technically because current events in Iraq are arguably new forms of colonialism) they still revel in their “supremacy” over the colored people.


Self-absorption is one criticism against the privileged White Society.  It is highly doubtful that they realize that some of their actions are considered prejudiced and not at all appropriate. Latinos are not the only victims of bigotry, blatant or otherwise; the simple act of refusing to learn that there are different communities lumped together under the label “Asian American”, that there is a distinction between Chinese, Japanese, Korean and every other Asian living in America. Thus it is no surprise that Filipino Americans are still victims of discrimination in society.   


Decolonization as Social Action


Unfortunately, one required Gen Ed class is not enough to teach diversity and cultural awareness. This is just a classic example of first-order change where this customary solution actually may be part of the problem. Forcing people to attend a class about diversity may instead develop a sense of resentment in the students, especially those who may feel targeted, i.e. the privileged White society, creating a backlash that could be even more dangerous than the original discrimination. What is needed is a program that encourages conversation between parties and stakeholders. The privileged White must become aware that he is indeed in power and that his actions oppress those not in his societal sphere. But this awareness must be awakened in a democratic manner and that all following conversations between parties must also be dictated by the rules of common courtesy.   


On the other hand, changing the majority will not solve all the problems in the Filipino American community. There is still the matter of colonial mentality and as in many problems in the world the first step to solving it is to identify the problem. Scholars who have actually looked at the Filipino American community have identified colonial mentality as one of the main sources of the community’s often hidden problems. What is needed now is a way to disseminate this information to the rest of the community. Consciousness Raising is crucial.   There needs to be an invitation to open up the pathways of conversation among the different generations of Filipino Americans, between immigrant parents and American born children. There needs to be acknowledgement of the problems that the community as a whole denies. The recognition of colonial mentality and all its manifestations as a major root of the community’s problems will hopefully slow down its spread across generations.


Community Development is the next step. One major flaw in the Filipino American society is this “crab mentality” where in one Filipino would put down another Filipino who has attained some measure of success. The community cannot achieve anything if its members are undermining each others efforts. Instead of sabotaging each other, the community must work together to resolve the issues that they face. For example, discrimination in the work place can be much more effectively addressed by the administration if several voices together raise the issue and demand resolution. In line with this the community as a whole must also band together with other disenfranchised groups to form coalitions to efficiently address the problems inherent in being a minority in this society with “institutionalized racism”.


Unfortunately, a possible a barrier to these solutions is the fact that many Filipino Americans would rather concentrate on becoming and staying financially stable instead of becoming culturally fulfilled emotionally and psychologically. What needs to be done must start small. There are Filipino Americans who have had the opportunity to learn about colonial mentality and the problems hidden in the community, it is then their responsibility to converse with people, spread the word. A conversation with a family member may just be the first step needed to change and improve the whole community. Planting the idea that there is something wrong with the fact that Filipino Americans have a habit of rejecting their cultural identity into the consciousness of even the busiest and most overworked parent may be enough to inspire reflection once the parent actually notices that he or she does it too. And really, that’s all that’s needed to get the ball rolling on social action.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 27th, 2007 03:27 am (UTC)
excellent paper- explore more!-richard wyse
Feb. 21st, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
Colonial Mentality...
Your Are Totally Right!!!
Feb. 21st, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC)
Colonial Mentality...
Your Are Totally Right!!!__ Aldrich Layam... Filipino
Mar. 6th, 2008 01:53 pm (UTC)
cosciousness rising
hello, thanks for the good read. I appreciate that you had a complete turn around where your Filipinoness is concerned. One of the most shocking attitudes most elite Filipinos have is our seeming blindness or denial of the negative spiral spin the country is taking. Whether we admit it or not, whatever happens to us (individually) wherever we may be, reflects on our country; likewise, whatever happens to our country, inadvertedly affect us as well. We always seem to pretend everything is alright, the financially secure are comfortable and so were oblivious to the suffering of the majority. The poor masa could not help themselves, it is mostly up to us, educated elite Filipinos to bring on change and consciousness, You are right, consciousness rising is a must... Filipinos had been sleepwalking, wake up !!!! from aop.
May. 5th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
I lived here in America and I never deny of being a Filipino.Our problem is that we are too americanized "feeling sosyal".I'm proud of being a filipino. I grew up in poverty and it helps me realize how to become a true filipino.Filipino American,majority of them are "mayabang" im proud to say im not...I Love US but,my true love still remains in my motherland...
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


it's supposed to be just songs
keisha the pretty

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