The discrimination against Amerasians in the Philippines and in America follow the same circular Colonial Mentality process that E.J.R. David describes in internalizing inferiority to the oppressors. Amerasians are not really considered American or Filipina/o (Mental Schema). Since they don’t belong to either group, they must be worse. (Automatic Thought). “Full” Filipina/os are always only going to be Filipina/o which in their minds is inferior (Self-Schema). “Full” Filipina/os take out their anger and frustration about not being able to become American on Amerasians who they feel have better access to Americanization. Sometimes, they take out their anger and frustrations on Amerasians because they feel a sense of superiority over a group of people who they perceive to belong less in society than themselves (Behaviors and Mood).
It is hard to articulate the things that I want to say to Jimmy. Before I completely form my opinion on this seemingly horrible individual, I looked him up to hear more about why he did this. Another video came up with him being interviewed after ’20 reasons I dislike _____________. the Philippines’ went viral. It gave me a little bit of hope. Maybe this person is not so bad after all. Well I was only even more disappointed. I couldn’t even finish watching the video.
My intention was to humanize him to be able to discuss this offensive video in a more productive way but there is nothing that I want to say to Jimmy. He is just another ignorant white man perpetuating Western Colonization. I do not want to spend my time and energy arguing and defending my point of view when I can spend it on something more valuable. Is it my responsibility to educate him?
“I’m sick of mediating with your worse self
On behalf of your better selves”
–Anzaldua & Moraga (This Bridge Called My Back)
White Christmas where it never snows.
Through the documentary “White Christmas,” Michael Magnaye expatiates his experiences with the annual elaborate Christmas in the Philippines that is greatly influenced by the ideas of religion by the Spanish and commercialism of Christmas by the United States of America. He focuses on the paradox of filipina/os celebrating a holiday that was imposed on them by Spanish colonization and the paradox of filipina/os extravagant expenses to replicate an American concept of Christmas. Magnaye shares his ignorance about the American ornaments that were used by his family and other Filipina/os when decorating their fake christmas trees which symbolizes the way Filipina/os have “swallowed whole” the concept of White Christmas. In the documentary, there were a lot footage of the exorbitant parades during Christmas making a spectacle of what were supposed to be sacred figures. These processions show how Filipina/os have adapted these traditions for their own.
Through the discussion of Christmas in the Philippines, Magnaye is able to explore the different ways U.S. colonialism/imperialism influences the archipelago. He elaborates on American street names such as Yale, Stanford, etc.; English as the main language in schools; and the American dream engrained in the minds of Filipinos. The documentary exhibits both the paradox and the hybridity of Filipina/o American Identities.
The title “White Christmas,” represents Filipina/os use of Christmas to access their fantasies of becoming American, something that they never will be. During the Christmas “season” Filipina/os practice what they think is American: spending extravagantly, comparing successes, and giving excessively to satisfy what they have been socialized to consider as superior culture.
To be asked to give a general definition of Filipin@ American identity seems to be unfair but to not answer the question seems to be a cop out. It is easy to essentialize the meaning of Filipin@ American Culture/Identity because we tend to narrow it down to food, religion, physical appearance etc. which becomes problematic when we breakdown the history of these things just to realize that they are all influenced by Spanish Colonization and American Imperialism. The Filipin@ American culture is so much more than similar physical traits, food, and practices. It is a fluid identity that can be defined differently by each person who identifies with it. I think one of the underlying commonalities with those who identify with the Filipin@ and Filipin@ American culture is the history of struggle against the Spaniards, Japanese and Americans by the indigenous people who lived in the archipelago. Filipin@ American Culture/Identity has more to do with the identification with the resistance and continued resistance to become free from the hegemonic ideas and practices enforced by the trauma of colonization and imperialism. Various traditions were born out of this resistance that started to build a sense of community between the peoples of the islands now called the Philippines. Linda M. Pierce, in her essay Not Just My closet: Exposing Familial, Cultural, and Imperial Skeletons, provides a definition of being Pinay that resonates how I come to think of Filipin@ American identity and culture. She explains:
Being Pinay thus means having a relationship with decolonization whether active or passive, engaged, conflicted, opposed, or in denial, the relationship is automatic (and sometimes uninvited) by virtue of living in America. It means a constant awareness of ‘Philippines-ness’ in America, awareness of systems of colonial imperialism, awareness of which generation you or your family members were American born, awareness of the obstacles that your family has had and continues to face, awareness of your relationship to others.
Because the indigenous peoples of the Philippines did not begin to become united until the Spanish Colonization, we cannot divorce our definition of Filipin@/Filipin@ American culture from the different occupations of the archipelago and colonizations of our minds.
If this video were the first thing I have ever seen of the Philippines this is what I would think:
The Philippines does not care for it’s people. They let them live in hazardous shanty-towns some of which are in cemeteries. The Filipin@s living below poverty line seem to just accept their situations and try to make the best of it. They live such chaotic lives that doesn’t seem to make any room for upward mobility.
–> Intentional or not, this BBC documentary creates a perceptions of the Philippines that puts the blame solely on the poor, working class people of the Philippines and a little blame on the Philippines government. It does not shine light on the history of how the Philippines got to this dire, impoverish state which is deeply rooted in Spanish Colonization and American Imperialism that exploited and continues to exploit the resources and labor force of the Philippines for “First World” countries’ gains but NOT the Philippines’.
I felt the pressure to assimilate to American culture even before I moved to the Bay Area. The content of the curriculum in the private Catholic school I attended in the Philippines was not different from the content of the curriculum in the public school system in the United States. As a young child, I was told by my family that we had the chance to go to America. We were just playing the waiting game that most petitioned Filipin@ families go through therefore my family encouraged me to do well in English class as preparation. I took pride in excelling in reading, writing, spelling and speaking the English language. I thought for a fact English was the key to a successful life in America.
Although my ability to read, write, spell and speak English alleviated some of the alienation I began to feel as a filipina immigrant in an American public school, it did not change the fact that my success was limited to whatever a low-income Filipin@ immigrant family could ‘afford.’ This sense of limitation has caused me to hesitate identifying as “American.” In Locating Filipino Americans, Rick Bonus writes about the desire of Filipin@ communities to feel a sense of belonging that I was also craving for. He says, “…Filipino(a) Americans who want to be included also want a different kind of inclusion, on terms other than full assimilation. They want to be assimilated and integrated, but in ways that will not erase their identities as Filipino(a)s…in ways in which their representation will also amount to a recognition of them as citizens entitled to equal share of power” (p. 28). This kind of integration would open up real, equitable possibilities for Filipin@s to become full, accepted citizens instead of feeling unwanted.
Recreating the Pinay Rosie the Riveter
This idea was born out of a project that focuses on issues that affect Asian American communities. We chose to address the inability of filipinas to become self-actualized and become liberated because of the oppressive systems that are in place: white supremacy, capitalism, sexism/patriarchy, homophobia, and xenophobia.
“Pinayist praxis is a process, place, and production that aims to connect the global and local to the personal issues and stories of Pinay struggle, survival, service, sisterhood, and strength. It is an individual and communal process of decolonization, humanization, self-determination, and relationship building, ultimately moving toward liberation. Through this process, Pinays create places where their epistemologies are at the center of the discourse/dialogue/conversation and organizing. Pinays also represent Pinayism through critical cultural production of art, performance, and engaged scholarship that expresses their perspectives and counternarratives.”