Monday, October 1, 2007

Filipino mestizos

By R. Arce, Filipino CulturedA picture says a million words.

Most Filipinos have the false belief that Spanish mestizos are supposed to look ... well, Spanish: light skin, brown hair, aquiline noses, there's a stereotype that a Spanish mestizo is supposed to look like Enrique Iglesias, Bianca Araneta, Mico Palanca, or la hermosa Pilita Corrales and be extremely rich, but a look at historic pictures of real Spanish mestizos show really how much of a false belief that is, because Spanish mestizos look like "normal" Filipinos. Spanish mestizos are normal Filipinos, although that's something that most Filipinos don't even realize because of an "us" and "them" mentality. Many Filipinos are mestizos, but they don't even realize it. You're a Filipino mestizo, and you don't even realize it.

Many Filipinos are mestizos and have Spanish blood, most times even without realizing that they're mestizo because the thing is that some Filipinos have more European blood than others, and often, only those Filipinos (the ones who look more European) are referred to as mestizos, although in traditional Spanish speaking society, they would be referred to as castizos or criollos, while those with less European blood, although are mestizos, are never perceived as mestizos by Filipinos because of that strong social perception that equates being mestizo with having strong European looks and being extremely wealthy, which is never always the case as most mestizos, just by looking at historic pictures of the first mestizos in the Philippines, real mestizos look like today's normal Filipino, meaning that many Filipinos are mestizos without even realizing it because of the social perception, and also because of the historical stigma associated with having Spanish blood out of marriage (las queridas), which happened a lot in Spanish colonies, and also in the Philippines, which would've urged many Filipinos to hide their Spanish ancestry in the past to avoid the social stigma of being la querida (mistress) or hijos de la querida (children of the mistress). It's usually only the officially recognized marriages between Spanish men and Malay women that were officially recognized as mestizos, because the difference is, the official marriages had the wedding documents historically to prove it, the out of wedlock mestizos born from queridas didn't, although the Spanish blood in their future children and grandchildren are just as valid and real in those Filipinos, even though those future generations (today's Filipinos) wouldn't even know about their Spanish ancestry if they're not informed about it even when it's very prominent in their facial features, or wouldn't believe their grandparents when they tell them about their Spanish great great-grandfather, which to young Filipino kids who look in the mirror and see that their brown faces don't match the PERCEIVED facial type of a Spanish mestizo, they believe what they're being told is a myth. But of course it's not.

Also another reason why this confuses young Filipinos is because not enough has been written about this topic because most Filipino historians don't think it's important. But they're obviously wrong, because a people's ancestry is a very important topic indeed in any culture, and if it wasn't important, then a lot of young Filipinos wouldn't have so many questions about this topic and be confused about it so much, and it wouldn't cause so much strife within the Filipino population during social discussions if it wasn't an important topic to research, which hasn't actually been done yet. Sometimes, they'll have paragraphs here and there about mestizos in history books, but it's always on the surface, saying mestizos were richer than the rest of the population, etc. but never fully exploring what the lives of those mestizos were like during those times and it's not fully explained like it is in history books about Latin America, which has entire volumes written about the mestizo colonial experience in Spanish America, which I've all read and have spent hours and hours reading in the library, which is why I understand it so much, which has also helped me understand my own Filipino culture. Now you probably understand why we say, to better understand Filipino culture, you should understand Latin culture, because the truth of the matter is, Philippine history books leave a lot of holes and questions unanswered that you could only find by reading books in Spanish or reading books about the Spanish colonial period in it's entirety instead of only books about the Philippines.

Pure-blooded ethnic Malays from which Filipinos are descended from don't have pointed noses or high nose bridges or light skin or big eyes and don't always have an eyefold (qualities which millions of Filipinos were born with and have in varying degrees), you just have to visit Malaysia or Thailand to see that (but don't be mistaken by the ethnic Chinese population and part-European population that dominate the celebrities, entertainment, and upper class there like many Filipinos are, you have to look at the indigenous population.

Contrary to what most Filipinos would believe, learning Spanish and exploring more about the Spanish colonial period and how it lead to the Filipinos' viewpoints of mestizos, wealth, and all that would only help to eliminate colonial mentality, not perpetuate it. The more we understand about "mestizos" and similiar cultural perceptions, the less it'll seem glamourized, and Filipinos will see the reality in it, and therefore, it grounds everybody and helps with positive mentalities.

To the people who doubt that there is in fact a large population of living mestizos in the Philippines, I have to say, what do you trust more, a book or encyclopedia (CIA World Book) written in the 21st century full of estimates with only a paragraph or or two dedicated to the Philippines or Spanish historical documents, pictures, and artifacts from the time period itself?

It is well known that even those population percentages that estimate European ancestry in Asian populations are exactly that - estimates, because even if it is a scientific study, even if it's from Stanford or Harvard University, it's well known that there is no single dna gene that is the "white gene", that determines European ancestry precisely, dna studies estimate and make guesses based on dna percentages by comparing dna from various populations around the world, but the fact that most humans share 99.9% of DNA makes it very difficult to exactly pinpoint where ancestry comes from, at best they can make an educated guess, and that's the best they can do, and I know this because I just saw it the other day on PBS watching this really cool educational program, and because I remember studying it in high school for God's sakes, and I'm only 24 so nothing has really changed at all since I graduated in 2001, it's basic science, so even Stanford University scientific studies on percentages of European ancestry in Asian populations that Filipinos love to hark on at Wikipedia's Filipino mestizo article are estimates themselves, and the first people to tell you that will be the scientists from Stanford University themselves, it's under the basic rules of population sampling that it's exactly that: a sample, meaning an estimate. And it's common sense, unless you analyze the blood from every single Filipino in the 70 million plus population, you're only taking a sample, meaning you're trying to determine the ancestry of an entire people by a handful of people, many times only 20 people at most. 20 people of one country even in a scientific sample cannot represent the entire country with complete accuracy, you can only come to an estimate, and it also varies depending on what blood types those 20 are from. If the 20 Filipinos they choose are very Malay-looking, then it will have an outcome saying that the Spanish ancestry is very small. If the 20 Filipinos they choose are more European-looking, then it will have an outcome saying the exact opposite. Filipinos love to hark on Standford University studies of population ancestries on that Wikipedia page, but if you were to ask those scientists who did the studies, they'd tell you the same thing: these percentages are only estimates, because my goodness, it's common knowledge in science, it's first year science class and sociology class that we learned in high school, and any real scientist and population demographic specialist will tell you that scientific sampling is always not completely accurate, which is why in results, this statement is always required: "Results may vary depending on [factors] [age] [weight] [family history] etc." Just because it's Stanford University, the Filipinos reading that treat it like it's the bible of God, because Filipinos are trained to believe in the superiority of anything Western, but hello? Don't they remember what we were taught in high school? Population samples are just that: samples meaning estimates, meaning that the results of such studies should not be trusted as 100% accurate because there are various factors that may alter the outcome of the study. It's basic science, first year high school science and sociology, and any scientist and population expert will tell you that, because they learned it in high school like the rest of us. That's why, don't ever trust anything on Wikipedia, especially articles about the Philippines, any uneducated person can go there and make an elephant look like a giraffe, and any Filipino can go in there and say that only 2% of the population has this much ancestry, and then change it to another number another day, as long as they have some kind of study they can reference to, even though they don't know anything at all about science, sociology, or cultural anthropology.

Basically the point is, the people who should be most educated about all of the aspects of a culture are the people who come from that culture themselves, but in many Filipinos, unfortunately, that's not always the case. So especially if your kids are growing up outside of the Philippines, educate them about their Filipino culture and involve them in Filipino activities so they feel pride in their own culture, and in themselves, so that they're secure and confident in their beings when they present themselves to the world's society.

The way Philippine history is portrayed in our history books is in desperate need of clarification and renovation to fix the errors and holes in many areas, because it affects everything, including how population estimates are done and how people are categorized. CIA World Book and their ESTIMATES (keyword) of the Filipino population including their ESTIMATES on the numbers of mestizos are not always 100% accurate, neither are they always CULTURALLY accurate, my people. Taking a gander at any book about Latin American peoples shows that this is a topic that is extremely important to many Latin American historians as well, because the way other cultures view race is different from the way the Latin culture views race, so racial estimates of countries in books written in English are never to be trusted as fact, because they're applying the viewpoints of an entirely different culture to another culture that the researchers don't always necessarily understand very well, the Latin culture and the structure of societies in Spanish-influenced cultures, which especially includes the Philippines.


Discovering Philippines: Center for Historic Studies of Public Works and Town Planning Exhibition in Madrid, Spain

Filipino Americans: Transformation and Identity

Very interesting book written in 1910, must be taken with a grain of salt, but provides a lot of first hand information and photographs from the time period:

The Racial Anatomy of the Philippine Islanders, Introducing New Methods of Anthropology and Showing Their Application to the Filipinos


Anonymous said...

That is false. In order to be a mestizo you should have at least 40-50% of Spanish (white) blood. That will make you a light-.brown skinned person with caucasian facial features, just like Mexican wetbacks. This blog shows how desesperate are you about being mestizos hahaha

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first anon, it just can't be. The Spanish treated Filipinos with more respect than Mexico. The Spanish raped and killed many of the people in Mexico. I know they made some Filipinos slaves however, they didn't do the same to us as they did to Mexico. I'm not saying there aren't any mestizos, I'm just saying not most of the Filipino population is a Spanish mestizo. I do think that there are many Filipino mixes. I've met Filipinos who are African, Spaniard, Mexican, Chinese, Caucasian, and more! I've only met about 2 of each however, it does show variety. I still don't think most of the Filipino population is a Spanish mestizo. If you can bring along more proof, maybe people will believe. Right now all you have is that picture. All DNA has to do is who's trait is dominant and who's is not and it's also all based on chance. :P

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NICO said...

Hello. Can you please recommend a book or journal article on the Spanish Mestizos in the Philippines? I already read about the Chinese Mestizos. Thanks!