Quantifying Your Filipino Identity

by Reese "How Filipino Are You?"

Have you ever been asked that question? Have you ever asked one of your friends/family that? Have you ever thought about what that really means?

"How Filipino Are You?" was the name of some quiz that was sent to me recently through Facebook. At first it seemed like an innocuous little game... something fun to pass the time, but after a little bit of reflection I realized that it touched a nerve. How do we quantify "filipino-ness"?

The questions themselves are harmless, and talk about the usual things like standard filipino iconography, food references, and in-grained behaviours. As funny and as stereotypical the quiz is, it wasn't the content of the quiz that upset me, but rather the scoring of, and measurement of what to me is an absolute value: my identity.

To me, being filipino is any or all of the following: 1) genetically filipino 2) raised by filipinos 3) raised in the philippines

Those three points speaks to the age-old "nature vs. nurture" argument to determine a person's physical and behavioural traits. To me it's a balance of both. You are what you are because you inherited it via your genes or via your environment. So it's a clear yes/no, true/false right? There's no room for grey when it comes to identity. I didn't think I could only be "sorta filipino", right?

Well, apparently this quiz, and other Filipinos, say otherwise. This is your textbook example. There's a different mindset between filipinos who are born Canadian, and those who became Canadian citizens which is quite understandable. We are worlds apart when it comes to how we were "nurtured". At the same time, it does not detract from the sheer common bond we all share. How can where I live make me less filipino than you? Do I not live the life of one who looks and is Filipino?

It's funny how there's this unspoken initiation into becoming something that I already am by sheer birthright. Do we have to "earn" our identity? Can't we take our fractured community which sees things through the lens of "what's different than me" and mend rifts by keeping in mind what keeps us united? I know fighting ignorance is key, but let's be inclusive and encouraging instead of disparaging and isolationist. A soft and encouraging voice that tells you a story about Filipino history, is far more effective than a frustrated grunt from someone who is annoyed that you don't understand Tagalog. Let's enable our brothers and sisters to be proud of what they can uniquely bring to the "filipino experience". There will never be just one experience... but rather a diverse collection of shared adventures, and we should celebrate that. We should encourage everyone to tell their story... because they are one of us.

All of that from a Facebook application. Oh, and if you wanted to know how I scored? I got ranked as "TURE FLIP". (Spelling mistake and all.) Irony. Mahal kita.


NOTE: The above graphic has nothing to do with the Facebook quiz.