But What Is Filipino...?

by alex [*the below was also posted on the Kilusan blog]

What is Filipino?

This is the Philippines, so this must be Filipino right?

The guy in all the pics above was born in the Philippines, so he must be Filipino right?

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I started really wondering about "Filipino-ness" on this trip.

The damn labels "Philippines" and "Filipino" bother me, we're a supposedly independent country that's still named after the crown prince of a country that long-ago invaded us.  Am I alone in this or is this crazy?  [*and yeah I do know that Marcos tried to change the name once, too bad he tried to name it after himself...]

The label "Filipino" didn't even apply to the natives of this country until the late 19th century, and even then it was appropriated by a mestizo class of native that only desired to take over the reins of power from the foreign colonials--a goal they eventually achieved (a state of affairs that remains the status quo to this day).

I cringe a little inside when I call myself "Filipino," I wish there was another option.  I'd almost rather still be called an 'indio' than to continue to use the name forced on us by conqueror that we already kicked out of the damn country.  I'd be happy to let the elites keep that label though, it suits them.  But obviously this is a completely emotional reaction, not an intellectual one, I realise that, yet these thoughts remain.

"What is Filipino?"

My point of view on that is nowhere near easy, neat, nor completely pleasant...  but the story isn't finished yet...

Next week the Kilusan collective will be presenting their work at Rolly's in Toronto.  I am sure that in our own ways, all our work will be explorations in this question...

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How would all of you answer the question:   What is Filipino???