Thursday, October 4, 2007

Filipino People's Real Ancestry

By R. Arce, Filipino Cultured
I always go into forums and read what other Filipinos have to say about Isabel Preysler and her kids doubting their "Filipino-ness" based on their sometimes warped views on what a Filipino is supposed to be or supposed to look like.

A lot of Filipinos are miseducated about this very important topic: Ancestry. Spanish blood does not disqualify someone from being Filipino, first of all because there is no such thing as a Filipino race, which means that unless we're talking about parentage in which one parent is a Filipino citizen and the other is a citizen of another country, nobody is really racially "pure Filipino" "half-Filipino" or a "quarter Filipino" or "1/8 Filipino" as I see often, because there is no such thing as a Filipino race, there is a Filipino people that is made up of the mixture of several races: Malay, Spanish, and Chinese being the major three ancestries of most Filipinos. And also because if that were true, my entire family and I would not be Filipinos and Pilita Corrales, Fernando Poe Jr., Jaime Fabregas, Amalia Fuentes, Armando Goyena, Maritess Revilla, Paquita Roces, Gloria Romero, Piolo Pascual, Kristine Hermosa, Cogie Domingo, Richard Gutierrez, Mico and Bernard Palanca, Aga Muhlach, Claudine Barreto, KC Concepcion, TJ Trinidad, Rica Peralejo, Lucy Torres, Richard Gomez, Rosanna Roces, Vic Sotto, Oyo Boy Sotto, Tito Sotto, Kempee de Leon, Eddie Garcia, German Moreno, and millions of other Filipinos of Spanish descent would not be Filipinos as well. Being Filipino should not only equal to Malay ancestry, but that's the way most Filipinos view it and use the amount of Malay ancestry in a person to qualify whether someone is a "real Filipino" saying things like "she's 1/8 Filipino" when they actually mean she's "1/8 Malay", they use the word Filipino instead of Malay because the word Filipino has become synonymous with Malay ancestry and Malay ancestry ONLY (which results in millions of Filipinos referring to themselves as "Filipino, Spanish, and Chinese", when they really should be saying they're FILIPINOS of MALAY, Spanish, and Chinese descent), and it's incorrect and a result of miseducation, which is why I'm very adamant about rewritting the way Philippine culture and history is written in our books and text books, because people from other countries use books written by Filipinos as a reference to their information, so if the information written by Filipinos themselves is incorrect in the way ancestry is viewed, then that incorrect information will be spread to the entire world (which it already has been) affecting everything, especially the amount of pride young Filipinos have in their own culture.

I don't know exactly when this mixup between the words Malay and Filipino occured, and when Filipinos started to view "Filipino" as an actual homogenous separate race instead of as a national identity made up of the mixture of several races, but what is fact is that it did not start before the 1898 revolution since Jose Rizal was quite fond of using the words "Malay people" in his works, but if you study history and are familiar with the culture that influenced and colonized the Philippines after the revolution in 1898, it's quite obvious that it probably came from the influences of that culture which has a history of segregating races and frowning upon people of mixed race that was imposed on the Philippines after the 1898 revolution. In other words, the concept of mestizaje, the concept which accepts racial mixture as a normal part of national life, which united the peoples in former Spanish colonies after their revolutions against Spain, the concept of mestizaje which unites a people as one regardless of their race was wiped out in the Philippines after 1898, and replaced by the cultural values of a new culture that was not compatible with the previous values, and which wrecked havoc and continues to wreck havoc on Filipinos' sense of identity even to this day. This has a lot to do with why nationalism died very quickly during the first half of the 20th century, and why Filipinos have a hard time uniting as a people today, because the nationalism ideals that took place in the late 19th century built on the ideals of the unity of a single people and country based on mestizaje, was quickly forgotten (obviously, since most Filipinos view being Filipino as a separate race instead of as a national identity, and most don't even know what that word means even though it plays a significantly important role in the history and formation of our country) and was replaced with the national anthem and the forced and imposed allegiance to the cultural values of the country of the Thomasites, something which still affects the Filipino people to this day, in both positive, but also overwhelmingly negative ways.

There were good and bad points to mestizaje, but one thing is undeniable in that it united the peoples in the countries of South America extremely well and instilled in them a sense of national pride in their country that could as well have happened to the Philippines. But it didn't, and it's history, and it's all done. What is important today for Filipinos is education, and more education specifically about the Philippines, because not enough Filipinos care about studying the Philippines, but the truth is, there's still a lot more things to be done, rewritten, corrected, clarified and discovered. A glance in any Filipino history textbook from the Philippines will tell you that.

Mestizaje is the reason why there is no such thing as a Filipino race, and there is no such thing as a Hispanic race as well, contrary to popular belief in most non-Latin countries that like to categorize people into neat racial boxes, which are never correct.

European/Spanish ancestry is always regarded by Filipinos as "foreign ancestry", but it's not really foreign as European/Spanish ancestry has been in the Philippines for centuries and makes up the bloodlines and family trees of millions of Filipinos, and not just in the upper class as most Filipinos are led to believe. Filipino is always referred to as "indigenous ancestry" again referring to how the word Filipino has become synonymous with ONLY Malay ancestry, but again Filipino ancestry is not always just Malay ancestry.

A people's history and ancestry is a very important topic for any country in the world, and education is the key to enlightenment.

It has to start with us, and it has to start with changing the way we use the word Filipino. For example, it's very common for Filipinos to say that a mestizo from the Philippines is of mixed Filipino and Spanish ancestry. This miseducation is so deep in Filipinos, that that's even what I saw written in my niece's history textbook when I visited the Philippines. And that is incorrect, because a mestizo from the Philippines is NOT of mixed Filipino and Spanish ancestry, but of mixed MALAY and Spanish ancestry, and the combination is what makes them a Filipino. Pilita Corrales is not of mixed Filipino and Spanish ancestry, she is of mixed Malay and Spanish ancestry, and she is a Cebuana, and she is definitely a Filipina. This is very important because correcting this simple error in the use of words will also help to correct the negative viewpoints and confusion that many Filipinos have about their ancestry, and also help in having pride in being simply Filipino if people finally accept mestizaje (mixture) as the norm in Filipinos instead of as something to be praised and put on a pedestal.

This will help everyone, those Filipinos who are more European looking than other Filipinos sometimes spend their entire lives trying to prove to other Filipinos how "Filipino" they are, because other Filipinos doubt their "Filipino-ness" because their facial phenotype doesn't match what their perception of what a "real Filipino" is supposed to look like. And it will help eliminate Filipinos' insecurities because it will stop the constant: "Is [Celebrity] really Filipino? He/she doesn't look Filipino!" because they will feel pride in Filipinos of all facial types and skin colors. And if we educate ourselves as Filipinos, and write correct information in our history books, we educate the world about us, and it saves us a lot of time and stress having to explain all the time about why certain Filipinos don't "look Filipino" or why some Filipinos look white and others look Chinese and others have dark skin, because it will be in there in the books, and hopefully written as culturally accurate as possible.

Related article:
Filipino Mestizos: A quick thought, why you're a Filipino mestizo and you don't even realize it

So back to Isabel Preysler and her kids, everytime I hear other Filipinos say "They're not really Filipino, they're Spanish!" I always remember this photo I saw on Isabel Preysler's website of Chabeli Iglesias and Julio Iglesias Jr. when they were kids dressed in traditional Filipino clothing. Chabeli is wearing baro't saya, and Julio is wearing the traditional costume for Tinikling. I also remember when Enrique Iglesias wore a Philippines t-shirt on MTV's Spring Break 2000, and the picture of Isabel Preysler wearing the Terno, the traditional national costume for Filipina women, at a social event in Spain.

Culture and the passing down of culture to future generations of Filipinos should be more important than racial ancestry, and Isabel Preysler has done a good job in that, which is a lot better than can be said about many Filipino parents in the United States or other countries, according to many young Filipinos who feel upset that their parents didn't teach them anything about their Filipino culture growing up, which seems to be a common thing among Filipinos growing up overseas, because you only have to strike up a conversation with other young Filipinos or visit other young Filipinos' various websites and read their stories to see that. Educating our kids about the Filipino culture is extremely important for their emotional well-being, and in their self confidence when they enter the world as adults.

A picture says a million words.
Enrique Iglesias with his lola, Betty Preysler at their home in Manila, Philippines.

22 comments:

Raquel Rivera Ford said...

I like your blog. Perhaps we didn't realize it but we Filipinos had always been called Malay Polynesians even way before the colonizers came. If you look at the words Polynesians use (I could only say the numbers, ie Samoans, Trinidad-Tobagoans, the maoris), their numbers pronunciation are pretty similar to ours...which is easy to explain: trade.
Having said that, so much has happened to our culture, that we lost this beautiful part of our culture. Thank you

Anonymous said...

Great accuracy. Most people tend to generalize the filipino people saying that we're pacific islanders or malaysians who picked up the spanish language. Thanks for clearing that up!

Anonymous said...

Filipinos are a mixture of Latino or English ancestry. I am Spanish Filipino and Chinese descent. My mom's friend's daughter is British Filipino. There are other Filipinos with other European mixed bloods.

Anonymous said...

I have a Norwegian friend she is part Filipino she lives in Norway

Anonymous said...

IMSCF
and proud of it ..
I am Spanish Chinese and Filipino .
and proud of it .
my DNA is the envy of a lot of people , hybrids are the new Master Race !!

I am cultured , educated
yet sensitive
I am gentle yet
will not hesitate to pick my gun or a bottle of beer the defend my family and honor !

Anonymous said...

your blog really really made it clear to me. thanks for all the info. now i know my true identity. haha. malay and spanish, great! i am a filipino. :)

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Filipino's are mix of all 4 or any of them

Anonymous said...

Filipino's are mix of all 4 or any i guess?

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Joanne Ramos said...

Thank you for clearing up what ethnic group, americans, seems to perceive us as. My mother's side is mixed up of Chinese,French ,Malay and spanish ancestry. My father side is hispanic and malay.
People think I am either Chinese, Vietnamese, and sometimes, Filipinos will ask what nationality I am.

Anonymous said...

You are pretty spot-on on how "Filipino" is misused to represent a race, instead of a cultural collection of diverse peoples. I only disagree with you on the concept of mestizaje. No concept of mestizaje every existed in the Philippines before 1898. Manila was very racially segregated by their own imposition. One HUGE difference between their American colonies and the Philippines was their caste system (for financial gain), that was broken down to % of race. They were divided as such: Indios, malays who paid base tax, Sangleys (pure Chinese who paid 4x base tax), Negritos (base tax), Mestizo Sangleys (paid 2x base tax), and Insulares and Penisulares (ethnic Spanish who paid NO tax). Mestizo Spanish were also exempt for Tax. There are other l classifications that break race down to 1/4 and other mixes. I guess my point is how was mestizaje supposed to exist post-1898 when it never really existed in the first place? Unfortunately, it is those same perverted ideals brought from the Spanish conquistadors, that still divide Filipinos today. Otherwise, great post!

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Anonymous said...

very well said :) me too is a mixed race of spanish, filipino, and chinese (i think? not sure maybe from ancestors)thumbs up to you!

Romi said...

Another misconception that most Filipinos have is in calling themselves as Orientals. They are confused as to what race they are. Filipinos are of the Brown Race, the Malay Race, and with the Pacific Islander Group since the Philippine Archipelago lies in the Pacific Ocean,...it just so happens that it is closer to the Asian Continent, and is thus tagged as being Asian. Otherwise, Filipino is the nationality of anyone born in the Philippines, and is of the Malay(Brown) Race, and a Pacific Islander, neither Asian nor Oriental. Filipinos by and large are of mixed ancestries of European (Spanish/French/British, etc),Asian (Chinese/Japanese/etc), and Pacific Islander. No matter what the mix of combination is, the individual remains to be Filipino,of the Malay (Brown)Race,, and a Pacific Islander.

Anonymous said...

Your opinion is unfounded, I am an expert of ethnic, race and religious identities and you really need to research what you say and reference where you get this info you use. your statement are quite dangerous, for written words create and actually fuels connotations and presumptions of hate by dislocating an already exodusof identity. Your identification of race is outdated, and its wrong. And highly dangerous.

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Anonymous said...

it should interest everyone to note that not all indigenous peoples in the philippines can be termed "Indo-Malay". there are scientific studies that posit that some peoples, as those in Northern Luzon (e.g. Batanes, Cordilleras, etc.) share a common ancestry with the aborigines of Formosa (now Taiwan). specifically, the Tao Tribe of Southern Taiwan share a common language and culture with the Ivatans of Batanes, Philippines. and we also need to note the Aetas, previously known as Negritoes. Then there is the large influence from India. it would be best, then, to re-educate the Filipino on these realities.

Anonymous said...

Romi you dummy. You're talking about people and race based only on it's location on the map. Maybe you should check out The philippine history to note that the negritoes were the first settlers, then came the malays , then the indonesians, later on the spaniards colonised the philipines for three centuries giving rise to filipinos of spanish descent. Then, of course with war came the japs and americans to further add into the mix of gene pool, not to mention the chinese and indian immigrants. The pacific islander groups and their gene pool are also mixed due to colonization. Also read about capt. Cook. You'll find it educational.