For this blog, it’s sort of a continuation from my first blog which explored the colonial mentality. This time I’ll be talking about the idea of Filipinoness. When I talked about the colonial mentality, I defined it as the idea that ethnic identity is seen as a form of backwardness and that the individual suppresses that identity for assimilation into the mainstream culture.
Okay, so story time.
For those of you that don’t know, I also work in the residence halls here. I was talking with another resident advisor about a program they wanted to help host. The conversation then alluded to the topic of Filipinoness and Mexicanness.
When we got into this topic, my coworker started talking about her experience of others questioning her Mexicanness. She identifies as Mexican and told me that others had asked about whether or not she was Mexican. She responded with a stern “yes,” but the people questioning her didn’t accept her as Mexican. This was all based on her actions and what a Mexican is supposed to be and act like. They essentially placed her in a “box” that measured her Mexicanness as rather low. She then said that she felt rather confused after the whole situation because her own people wouldn’t accept her as Mexican.
When she finished her story, I then talked about the idea of Filipinoness for Filipino-Americans. Based upon the research I have done on Filipino-Americans and what I’ve seen with other Filipinos I know, too much Filipinoness is seen as a bad thing. It’s rather interesting because this mentality, the colonial mentality, is a product of the colonial legacy of the Philippines and it plays out daily in most Filipino-American’s lives today. Parents of some Fil-Am youth try to suppress the ethnic identity or the learning of Filipino heritage and history by using the amount of Filipinoness their child displays as a sign of backwardness.
I come from a divorced family and currently live with my dad. I’ve been with him these past twelve years or so and I’ve experienced this with him on a rather subtle level. As a former president of my Filipino student club in high school I would always try to tell him about things we did in our club that were about cultural awareness, but he would always respond with, “Why are you doing those things? They’re not important!” or something to that effect. It seemed as if knowing about his culture wasn’t important at all. That affected my mental state because for a good period of time I thought it wasn’t important to know about my culture.
I still strive to learn about my culture because it is part of my identity and something I am passionate about educating myself about. Now that I have the tools and knowledge to explain and reflect upon this experience, it is important for me to move forward because when I become a teacher I want to be able to support students through this same sort of experience. This idea of too much Filipinoness is something I hope to study in the years to come.
Thanks for reading y’all. Much knowledge, wisdom, and love.
by IAN ZAMORA