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.
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.