Decolonization of the Filipino American Mind

Topics: Asian American, Higher education, United States Pages: 17 (5590 words) Published: December 5, 2011
The last Census revealed that Filipinos have grown to 1,850,314, the country’s second-largest Asian ethnic group behind the Chinese (2,341,537). The Filipino populous has become an “invisible majority”, with 49.72% of Filipinos residing in California. These figures beg the question, how can a group so large continue to be considered an underrepresented minority in our colleges and universities when in total, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are attending institutions of higher education more now than ever? Though faced with the same obstacles as other American families, Filipinos possess a unique set of cultural, social, historical, and financial factors that negatively influence their ability to attain a higher education. In addition, the myth of Asian Americans as being the “model minority” has also served to limit the ability of Filipinos to access institutions of higher education. Through the research findings presented here, I hope to propose some remedies to assure Filipinos rise up from the ranks of an underrepresented minority and contribute more to the diversity of the student population in California’s colleges and universities.

Textbooks provide a wealth of information of distorted truths on the history of the Philippines, yet little is known about the Filipino people. The diversity found amongst the Filipino people themselves is due to their origins in an archipelago of 7,100 islands and over eighty dialects. As Maria P.P Root states on page xiii in her book, Filipino Americans: Transformation and Identity: …People of Filipino heritage have experiences very different from those of other Asian American groups who are part of the fabric of this country. Not dominated by Confucian philosophy… coming from societies that have matriarchal structures… intersected and invaded by seafarers, traders, military, missionaries, and colonizers, Filipinos of America are seldom accurately situated in history or culture and are therefore misinterpreted. We share cultural affinities with people from Mexico, Central and South America, Cuba, and Puerto Rico because of Spain. We share shamanic and animalistic traditions with indigenous peoples throughout the world. We share cultural patterns of communication with Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Koreans. An archipelago of Malayan people, our braiding of cultures and phenotypes creates affinities with Pacific Island people, who are clearly recipients of African diaspora (1997).

Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the nationalist movement that secured the Philippines’ freedom from Spain, was betrayed by the Americans when instead of letting the Philippine people rule themselves, the United States secretly negotiated a deal with Spain to purchase the Philippines for $20 million. To assure compliance, Americans fired the first shots starting a war with Filipino nationalists on February 4, 1899. The Philippine-American War, lasting over three years, claimed as high as 1 million Filipino civilian lives, destroyed the first republic in Asia and established America as a colonial power (Pimentel, 1999). “The Philippine Insurrection, as U.S. History has named it, cast American troops as the heroes in a guerilla war against ‘villainous Filipino nationalists’… and Aguinaldo went from president to insurrectionist, just like that” (Guillermo, 2002). During their fifty-year stay, the United States imported Western ideals to the Philippines- ideals so unattainable that it corrupted the Filipino educational system, Filipino mentality, Filipino family structures, and Filipino politics. Ideals so unattainable that it misled Filipinos to venture overseas to the United States under the impression they would be treated as equals. The Filipino people were “pushed from the Philippines by poverty and pulled into America by ‘extravagance’” (Takaki, 1989, p.316).

American occupation brought about an overhaul of the...
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