Thursday, June 6, 2013
Are Filipinos Hispanic?
Are Filipinos Hispanic? I have been ask this questions a number of times especially during the last census in 2010*. Here are the answers of Dr.Barbara S. Gaerlan, Ph.D., Assistant Director at the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies.
The answer could be "yes" or "no" or even "yes and no." It is a personal choice on how people wanted to identify themselves. The person's definition of the word "Hispanic" would be crucial in making the decision.
The U.S. Census Bureau defines "Hispanic" as a person of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin. By this they usually mean people whose ancestors originated in Spain and/or Latin American countries that speak Spanish today as their main language.
By this definition, Filipinos would not be Hispanics, since they come from an Asian country, and very few Filipinos today speak Spanish at home.
The most widely-spoken languages are Tagalog-based Filipino and English (the result of a U.S. colonial presence from 1898-1946 and continued close political, economic, migratory, and military ties with the U.S. since 1946). And, in the U.S. Census, Filipinos are included as a separate, Asian American category.
So for people for whom these criteria are most important, and who choose to define Filipino identity by the country's evolution during the 20th century, the answer would be "no."
On the other hand, a different definition of "Hispanic" could yield a different answer. Filipinos can be considered Hispanic if one prioritizes the definition that countries colonized by Spain are "Hispanic" because of that historical influence -- no matter what their location on the globe or current linguistic status.
Spain colonized the Philippines in 1565 and ruled most of the country until 1898 (333 years) -- a longer time period than in some Latin American countries. To research Philippine history during those 333 years, knowledge of Spanish is essential for scholars.
Ethnically, although there was not as much migration to the Philippines from Spain as there was to Latin America, quite a few Filipinos can claim some Spanish ancestry.
Migration to the Philippines from Spain was quite extensive after the Suez Canal opened in 1869. By this definition Filipinos could choose to self-identify as Hispanic.
Even today, the Philippines nationally continues to exhibit numerous traits inherited from Spain: overwhelmingly Roman Catholic religion and related cultural legacies, many Spanish personal names, Spanish musical traditions, many Spanish vocabulary words incorporated into Filipino indigenous languages, etc. People emphasizing this historical and cultural legacy could answer "yes," Filipinos are Hispanic.
Finally, people could acknowledge the complexity of Filipino history and say "yes and no" -- claiming some Hispanic heritage but recognizing that in the Philippines at least, it is receding as time goes by.
I definitely agree with the three answers to the question above. Now, please leave me alone and do not bother me again with the above question.
Read more: http://www.hispanic-culture-online.com/are-filipinos-hispanic.html#ixzz2UtvYuddM. Here's a video for further discussion.
Personal Note: I was born and grew up in the Philippines but immigrated to the US in 1960. However, I have Spanish blood since my great grandfather from my mother side of the family ( Balleza) was from Spain. But I do not consider myself Hispanic or Asian. I identify myself as a Filipino-American. I have also Chinese ancestry as my great great grandfather on my father's side originally came from China. Comments anyone?
Here's a video of an American artist singing Porque in Chavacano- the dialect of Zamboanga with Aria Clemente. Is this song Hispanic enough or not for you?
* In 2010, my daughter Ditas Katague was in-charge of the Census Operation for the State of California.