How Filipino Americans Break The Rules Of Race | KERA News

How Filipino Americans Break The Rules Of Race

Nov 14, 2016

Many think of Latinos as people with roots in Mexico, Cuba or other Latin American countries. That definition, though, leaves out Filipino Americans, whose culture was shaped by centuries of Spanish colonial rule.

On Think, Krys Boyd talked with sociologist Anthony Ocampo about how both Asian and Latin heritage influence the Filipino American identity. He’s the author of “The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race.”

The KERA Interview

Anthony Ocampo on:

… how Filipinos identify with Latino culture:  

“For Filipino Americans that grow up in the United States, particularly those that grow up in places like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and the Bay Area — I’ve even heard from Filipinos that grow up in Texas, or in parts like Dallas-Fort Worth — where they grew up around a lot of Latinos, primarily Mexican Americans. And just growing up they notice these similarities between their parent’s culture and Mexican-American culture, other Latino culture. They’ll say things like, ‘Hey, all of us are Catholic, or some of the words in our language sound exactly the same, or hey, my last name is Rodriguez and your last name is Rodriguez.’’

… the influence of Spanish colonization on the Philippines:

“There’s certain parts of the Philippines where the combination of Spanish and the local language eventually led to a more Spanish sounding language. So, like Chavacano, which is in Zamboanga, a region of the Philippines, they speak a language that sounds super similar to Spanish. In other parts of the Philippines, Spanish was reserved for more of the elite classes. And so because the Spanish didn’t want Filipinos to have unifying language with which they could then communicate with each other and rebel, they actually taught Catholicism in local languages.”

Filipinos having Spanish last names:

“I think about things like LinkedIn or Monster where you upload a resume and 80 percent of Filipinos have last names that sound like Torres, Rodriguez, Gonzalez. You’ve got to imagine when an employer sees that resume automatically they think of that person as being Latino. I’ve heard from Filipino actors that go into auditions, they submit their names, and they’ll get emails back from the casting directors saying, ‘Oh, you know the Latino auditions are actually next week. This week is for the Asian actors.’ Even on dating, I’ve noticed ways in which Filipinos will get perceived to be Latino based on the last name that they upload on one of these online websites, and it affects people’s dating patterns as well. The impact of something as small as a last name — it’s far reaching.”