Defining the Filipino

This week has been so excruciating for us here at the newsroom. Thanks to ‘Fil-Am idol’ Jasmine Trias who arrived in Manila just a few days ago. A week before that, the bosses were pestering me on how we could get Jasmine for an exclusive sit-down interview. I could not fathom how we had to go through all these brouhaha for a singer we call our own yet aspired to be the American Idol . The day after Jasmine arrived, headlines bannered “Jasmine Trias comes ‘home,'” “Homecoming for American Idol finalist.” This is after Jasmine herself said when asked if she was willing to stay in her supposed ‘home’: “I don’t think it’s possible at the moment. Besides, Hawaii is home for me.”

A month ago, during the Athens Olympics, all eyes were on Natalie Coughlin, the gold medalist swimmer whose grandmother, apparently, was a Filipina. Talks of getting her to play for the Philippines in the 2006 Asian games came about. An officemate agreed with me on how stupid the idea was. Being Filipino seems to have less and less meaning these days.

But who is and what makes a Filipino? For many of us, being born a Filipino citizen is the key. For some, just tracing your roots to one Filipino makes you one. As for me, citizenship is earned, not laid out on a silver platter. We work to earn the title of being true blue Pinoys.

Defining the Filipino is still a challenge for most of us but one thing I am certain, it’s not just ancestry or bloodline or eating adobo that defines us.

12 Replies to “Defining the Filipino”

  1. two pinoy novels in english i was required to read said that ours is a country of upheavals, of constant beginnings, and so we only remember only the last typhoon, the last crisis, the last military takeover, the last scandal. if nothing is etched in national racial memory, there is nothing much to remember as something to be proud of, and if pride is crucial to idenitfying with a race, then the current state of “Being Filipino seems to have less and less meaning these days,” is rooted in our shortness of memory. ours is a race of good survivors, sure, but so are hangers on, scavengers, slaves, and opportunists. it’s a depressing issue, really.

  2. Thank you, I just wanted to give a greeting and tell you I like your website very much.

  3. Filipinos are really weird. We have contempt towards the Chinese Filipinos, who sometimes are more Filipino than the native Filipino BUT adore those Foreign-born Filipinos are less Filipino than the native Filipino. What a craze. Personally, I consider the Chinese Filipinos Filipino and the foreign-born Filipinos NOT Filipino.

  4. hi I’m an austrlian who lived in the philippines and have deep ties to the country as my sister in law is from Tagig and my newphew and nieces are all half filipino’s. I think it’s incredbly important that they understand this part of their herigtage. I have noticed in other half-blood Austrlians there is almost a distinct lack of any knowledge of their heritage, in fact, it is considered a joke like beign An austrlian is somehow a more acknowledgable thing. or in Jasmine trias’ case American. All we hear about here of the philippines is the corrupt government (what country does not have one of those?) or thebeauty contests and the amount of poverty but having been there i can honestly say the philippines has so much going for it and I would be proud to call it my adopted country.

  5. Ay nako…. tama ka diyan. Dhay, napaka hirap talagang i-define ang pinoy. Tama rin itong pinay n ito. Hindi mo puwedeng sabihin n pinoy ka kung nakatikim ka lang ng sinigang o adobo kung saan-saan diyan sa mga karinderia diyan. Ako ay labing-tatlong taong bata lmang, na nakatira sa estados unidos, mahigit isang taon n ako dineh, marunong parring ako magtagalog! Diyos ko dhay! Patawarin! May mga bata dineh n anak ng mga kakilala ng mga magulang ko, patawarin, hindi marunong magtagalog o hindinakakintindi ng tagalog ang mga bata. Minsan nga iniisip ko kung sinadya ng mga magulang nila n hindi turuan ng tagalog ang mga anak! Huwag niyong sisihin ang eskwelahan na puno ng mga inglesero, sisihin niyo ang pamilya ng mga bata. Saan ba masmatagal ang bata sa paaralan o sa bahay?? Siyempre, dah, sa bahay. At sino lng ba magtuturo ng tagalog sa bahay, siyempre si ina at si ama. At oo nga pala, iang mga bold istar n iyan sa pilipinas, patawarin kayo ng diyos ama, kahiyahiya kayo! Akala ko ba konserbetibo ang kultura natin? Eh, bakit nakaluwa at nakaliyad ang mga dibdib niyo? At minsan iniiba niyo pa ang mga pangalan niyo, tulad ng “Keeana Reeves” na iyan, diyos ko, may-pangalan k namang Pinoy ayaw mo pang gamitin. Pinupuntirya ko ay sina, “Aubrey Miles”, “Maui Taylor”” at marami pang iba! Kaya mga kababayan, mahiya naman kayo sa ating inangbayan.

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