am i really filipino?: the unintended consequences of filipino - NCORE



AM  I  REALLY  FILIPINO?:  THE  UNINTENDED  CONSEQUENCES  OF   FILIPINO  LANGUAGE  AND  CULTURE  COURSES  IN  HAWAI‘I     Daniel  B.  Eisen   Pacific  University     Kara  Takasaki   University  of  Texas  at  Austin     Arlie  Tagayuna   Lee  University     Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity     Volume  1,  Issue  2  |  2015                             Copyright  ©  2015  Board  of  Regents  of  The  University  of  Oklahoma  on  behalf  of  the  Southwest  Center  for   Human  Relations  Studies.       Permission  of  the  Publisher  is  required  for  resale  or  distribution  and  for  all  derivative  works,  including   compilations  and  translations.  Quoting  small  sections  of  text  is  allowed  as  long  as  there  is  appropriate   attribution.    


Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

Am  I  Really  Filipino?:  The  Unintended  Consequences  of     Filipino  Language  and  Culture  Courses  in  Hawai‘i       Daniel  B.  Eisen   Pacific  University     Kara  Takasaki   University  of  Texas  at  Austin     Arlie  Tagayuna   Lee  University     The  colonial  mentality,  a  perception  of  Filipino  cultural  inferiority,  results  in  many   Filipinos  distancing  themselves  from  their  Filipino  heritage.    In  Hawai‘i,  the  colonial   history  of  the  Philippines  is  reinforced  by  the  history  of  Hawai‘i’s  plantation  era  and   the   creation   of   a   “local”   identity,   which   marginalizes   the   Filipino   community   and   strengthens   the   colonial   mentality.     A   content   analysis   of   105   essays   written   by   Filipino  students  enrolled  in  college  level  Filipino  language  and  culture  classes  in   Hawai‘i   was   conducted   to   critically   examine   whether   and   how   educational   curriculum   is   used   to   challenge   the   colonial   mentality.     Data   analysis   shows   students   often   entered   classrooms   with   a   colonial   mentality   that   they   learned   through  familial  socialization  and  experiences  of  ethnic  discrimination  outside  of   the   family.   Although   these   language   and   culture   courses   helped   students   to   reconnect   with   their   Filipino   heritage,   many   students   developed   a   positive   and   essentialist   construction   of   a   Filipino   identity,   which   reduced   the   individual’s   agency  in  constructing  an  identity  and  facilitated  processes  of  othering.       Developing  an  identity  is  facilitated  through  one’s  ability  to  identify,  understand,   and  navigate  the  symbolic  and  social  boundaries  that  define  the  various  “kinds  of   people”  that  exist  in  a  society  (Appiah,  2005;;  Hacking,  1999;;  Lamont  &  Molnar,  2002).   Through  social  interaction,  individuals  learn  which  groups  society  will  allow  them  to   associate  with,  the  boundaries  of  these  groups,  and  the  prestige,  resources,  and   advantages  each  group  is  afforded  (Appiah,  2005;;  Cooley,  1902;;  Goffman,  1959).   These  group  boundaries  often  define  social  identities,  limit  the  available  categories  one   can  identify  with,  and  facilitate  the  creation  of  stereotypes  applied  to  individuals  for  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

being  a  certain  type  of  person.  Ultimately,  one’s  personal  identity  is  intimately  defined   by  larger  social  identities  (Appiah,  2005;;  Brubaker  &  Cooper,  2000;;  Cornell  &  Hartmann,   1997).   This  process  of  identity  formation  is  problematic,  as  the  process  of  boundary   creation  stigmatizes  some  social  identities  and  creates  a  system  of  stratification  that   privileges  some  people  over  others  (Goffman,  1963).    The  stigmatization  of  social   categories  is  created  and  maintained  through  the  media  (Klein  &  Naccarato,  2008;;   Lewis  &  Jhally,  2008;;  Lichter  &  Amundson  2008),  humor  (Labrador,  2004;;  Nilsen  &   Nilsen,  2006;;  Okada,  2007),  and  other  subtle  cues  that  are  projected  in  social   interactions  (Steele,  2010;;  Sue,  2010;;  Sue,  Bucceri,  Lin,  Nadal,  &  Torino,  2007).    It  is   common  for  people  who  are  characterized  as  belonging  to  unfavorable  social  categories   to  alter  their  behavior  or  appearance  to  distance  themselves  from  such  categories   (Goffman,  1959;;  Steele,  2010).    After  all,  Allport  (1958)  notes,  “one’s  reputation,   whether  false  or  true,  cannot  be  hammered,  hammered,  hammered  into  one’s  head   without  doing  something  to  one’s  character”  (p.  42).    The  constant  bombardment  of   negative  depictions  of  one’s  social  category  strengthens  the  associated  stigma  and   leads  many  individuals  to  internalize  the  negative  depictions  of  and  discrimination   toward  their  associated  group  (David,  2011;;  Pyke,  2010).        

Racial  and  ethnic  identities  become  stigmatized  through  processes  of  

racialization  (Omi  &  Winant,  1994)  that  have  enabled  the  creation  and  maintenance  of   racial  and  ethnic  stereotypes.    The  insidious  nature  of  racism  in  the  United  States   fosters  self-­hatred  in  many  individuals  (Pyke,  2010),  who  employ  tactics  of  defensive   othering  (Schwalbe  et  al.,  2000)  to  improve  feelings  of  self-­worth  and  to  avoid  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

experiences  with  racism.    Individuals  who  engage  in  defensive  othering  often  become   labeled  as  “whitewashed”  or  “selling  out”  (Pyke  &  Dang  2003)  because  they  attempt  to   align  themselves  with  the  dominant  racial  or  ethnic  group  by  presenting  themselves  as   exceptions  to  the  existing  stereotypes  (Schwalbe  et  al.  2000).    While  defensive  othering   may  increase  an  individual’s  status,  it  does  not  challenge  stereotypes  or  stigmas  that   encourage  individuals  to  engage  in  social  distancing;;  rather,  it  strengthens  and  affirms   stereotypes,  while  maintaining  a  hierarchy  of  kinds  of  people.        

This  research  examines  the  process  of  Filipino  ethnic  identity  development  in  

Hawai‘i.    Specifically,  this  research  focuses  on  the  consequences  of  Filipino  language   and  culture  courses  at  a  four-­year  university  in  Hawai‘i,  which  attempt  to  reconstruct  the   boundaries  that  define  what  it  means  to  be  Filipino.    These  courses  attempt  to  redefine   the  cultural  narrative  about  being  Filipino  by  highlighting  “core  Filipino  values”  and   transforming  a  negative  framing  of  Filipino  into  a  positive  one.    Overall,  this  research   demonstrates  the  importance  of  carefully  and  critically  examining  the  ways  that  we  use   education  to  teach  about  ethnic  identity  in  culture  courses.  Even  in  courses  that  present   “positive”  representations  of  ethnic  and  cultural  heritage,  boundary-­making  around   ethnic  identities  continues  to  create  divisions  between  immigrant  Filipinos  and  Filipino-­ Americans.       Filipino  Identity  Construction     Over  400  years  of  colonization  in  the  Philippines  has  consistently  denigrated   indigenous  Filipino  culture,  promoted  Western  culture  as  superior,  and  led  many   Filipinos  to  develop  a  colonial  mentality  (David  2011;;  David  &  Nadal,  2013;;  David  &   Okazaki,  2006a).    The  colonial  mentality  is  characterized  by  (a)  adherence  to  the  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

ideology  that  Filipino  culture  is  inferior  to  Western  culture,  (b)  an  attempt  to  distance   oneself  from  the  inferior  status  of  Filipino  by  adopting  Western  values,  attitudes,  and   beliefs,  and  (c)  a  belief  that  colonization  was  necessary  for  the  Philippines  to  become  a   civilized  progressive  nation  (David,  2011;;  David  &  Okazaki,  2006a;;  Nadal,  2004).    The   colonial  mentality  is  essentially  internalized  racism  (Pyke  2011),  operates  on  a   subconscious  level  (David  &  Okazaki,  2010),  and  presents  itself  in  the  form  of   individuals  denying  their  Filipino  heritage  in  attempts  to  become  what  Bonilla-­Silva   (2004)  calls  “honorary  whites.”    

Distancing  oneself  from  one’s  Filipino  heritage  can  affect  the  process  of  ethnic  

identity  development.  This  occurs  because  the  main  components  of  ethnic  identity,   exploration  of  one’s  ethnic  background  and  commitment  to  an  ethnicity,  are  stifled   (Erikson,  1968;;  Marcia,  1980;;  Phinney  &  Ong,  2007;;  Phinney,  Romero,  Nava,  &  Huang,   2001).    Umana-­Taylor,  Yazedjian,  and  Barmaca-­Gomez  (2004)  recognize  this  and   include  affirmation  as  a  third  vital  component  to  ethnic  identity  development.    They  use   the  following  example  of  two  Filipino  women  to  illustrate  this:   two  Filipino  women...have  both  explored  their  ethnicity  by  attending   cultural  events,  reading  books  about  the  history  of  the  Philippines,  and   talking  to  their  families  about  Filipino  culture  (i.e.  exploration).  In  addition,   they  both  feel  confident  about  what  being  Filipino  means  to  them  (i.e.   resolution  [commitment]).  However,  one  of  the  women  feels  very  positively   about  her  Filipino  background,  while  the  other  woman  feels  negatively   because  of  the  history  of  colonization  of  the  Philippines  by  multiple   countries,  which  she  feels  has  resulted  in  a  lack  of  Filipino  culture  (i.e.   affirmation  (Umana-­Taylor,  Yazedjian,  &  Barmaca-­Gomez,  2004,  p.  14).     Here,  both  individuals  have  explored  their  ethnic  background  and  have  a  commitment  to   their  ethnicity,  but  the  colonial  mentality  and  negative  collective  representations  of  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

Filipinos  discourages  one  of  the  individuals  from  developing  positive  affect  towards   being  Filipino  and  prevents  that  individual  from  asserting  a  Filipino  ethnic  identity.        

Nadal  (2004)  outlines  a  six-­stage  Filipino  American  identity  development  model  

that  accounts  for  the  historical  and  sociocultural  factors  that  influence  the  development   of  a  Filipino  ethnic  identity.    The  model  includes  the  following  stages:    ethnic  awareness,   assimilation  to  the  dominant  culture,  social  political  awakening,  panethnic  Asian   American  consciousness,  ethnocentric  realization,  and  incorporation.    These  stages  are   not  linear,  and  not  every  individual  will  experience  every  stage.    For  example,  “if  [an   individual]  lives  in  a  predominantly  white  community,  he  or  she  may  dwell  in  the   Assimilation  stage  for  his  or  her  whole  life”  (Nadal,  2004,  p.  60).  Like  Umana-­Taylor  et   al.  (2004),  Nadal  (2004)  emphasizes  the  importance  of  situating  the  process  of  ethnic   identity  development  within  a  specific  racial  and  social  context.  Nadal’s  (2004)  argument   suggests  that  in  environments  where  Filipinos  are  marginalized,  the  colonial  mentality   will  be  strengthened  and  individuals  will  attempt  to  assimilate  to  the  dominant  white   culture;;  whereas,  in  environments  where  positive  constructions  of  Filipino  are  fostered,   individuals  will  be  more  likely  to  move  into  the  integration  stage,  where  they  take  pride   in  being  Filipino  while  respecting  other  racial  and  ethnic  groups.      


Filipinos  in  Hawai‘i     Although  it  has  been  demonstrated  that  Filipinos,  in  general,  suffer  from  a  

colonial  mentality  (Bergano  &  Bergano,  1997;;  David,  2011;;  David  &  Okazaki,  2006a,   2006b;;  Eisen,  2011;;  Nadal,  2004;;  Revilla,  1997),  one  could  argue  that  the  colonial   mentality  is  especially  salient  in  Hawai‘i,  where  the  plantation  era  and  the  establishment   of  a  local  identity  has  created  an  ethnic  hierarchy  that  continues  to  marginalize  Filipinos  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

(Labrador,  2004;;  Okada,  2007;;  Okamura,  1990,  1998,  2008,  2010;;  Takaki,  1998).    After   Western  foreigners  acquired  large  tracts  of  Hawaiian  land  and  transformed  them  into   lucrative  plantations,  they  imported  low-­wage  laborers  from  Japan,  China,  Korea,   Puerto  Rico,  and  the  Philippines.    To  reduce  the  likelihood  of  co-­ethnic  labor  uprisings,   the  imported  workers  were  housed  in  ethnically  segregated  camps  with  Filipinos,  one  of   the  last  recruited  groups,  experiencing  the  harshest  living  conditions  (Okamura,  2008;;   Takaki,  1998).    Racist  ideology  depicting  Filipinos  as  obedient,  docile,  “stoop  workers,”   whose  dark  skin  and  short  stature  made  the  grueling  work  of  the  plantation  easy,  led  to   further  marginalization  and  poor  treatment  of  Filipinos.        

While  racist  stereotyping  of  Filipinos  in  Hawai‘i  originated  in  the  plantation  era,  it  

continues  in  the  present.    In  1926,  Porteus  and  Babcock  described  Filipinos  as  “a  race   in  an  adolescent  stage  of  development…whose  departure  from  the  normal  balance  of   maturity  are  to  be  seen  in  their  egocentric  attitude,  in  their  rather  obtrusive  habits  and   desire  for  personal  recognition,  in  their  super-­sensitiveness,  love  of  display,  and  noisy   self-­expression”  (p.  67).    Cariaga  (1974)  notes  that  in  1934  a  survey  at  the  University  of   Hawai‘i  found  that  Filipinos  were  viewed  as  emotional,  temperamental,  primitive,  child-­ like  individuals,  who  had  a  low  standard  of  living  and  consumed  unpalatable  food.     Hawai‘i’s  continued  practice  of  ethnic  humor  perpetuates  these  stereotypes  and  reveals   the  legacy  of  social  and  racial  hierarchies  from  the  plantation  era,  as  ethnic  jokes   currently  depict  Filipinos  as  violent,  uneducated,  child-­like  individuals,  who  are   employed  as  janitors  and  other  low-­wage  service  sector  workers  who  are  incapable  of   speaking  English  without  an  accent  (Labrador,  2004;;  Okada,  2007;;  Okamura,  2010).      



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    


Although  Hawai‘i’s  plantation  era  ended  in  1950,  many  Filipinos  were  funneled  

from  the  plantations  into  low-­wage  positions  in  the  service  and  tourism  sectors  that  lack   opportunities  for  upward  social  mobility  (Okamura,  2008).    U.S.  Census  Bureau  data   show  that  Filipinos  are  overrepresented  in  the  service  sector;;  from  1970  to  2000,  31.4%   of  Filipino  males  and  30.3%  of  Filipino  females  were  employed  in  service-­oriented   occupations.  Filipinos  are  less  likely  to  obtain  college  degrees  and  earn  significantly   less  income  than  other  groups  in  Hawai‘i.  The  structural  position  of  Filipinos  in  Hawai‘i’s   social  hierarchy  and  the  racist  depictions  and  stereotypes  of  Filipinos  in  Hawai‘i  create  a   social  environment  that  denigrates  the  social  category  of  Filipino  and  encourages   Filipinos  to  distance  themselves  from  their  ethnic  and  cultural  heritage  in  order  to  gain   more  social  status  (Eisen,  2011;;  Revilla,  1997).      

Filipinos  in  Hawai‘i  often  respond  to  stigmatization  and  marginalization  by  

asserting  a  “local  Filipino”  identity,  which  creates  a  boundary  between  Filipino-­ Americans  and  Filipino  immigrants.    This  practice  of  ethnic  identity  development  is  a   form  of  defensive  othering,  which  affirms  that  negative  ethnic  stereotypes  accurately   depict  Filipino  immigrants,  but  not  Filipino-­Americans,  who  gain  more  prestige  by   adopting  a  local  identity  (Labrador,  2004;;  Okamura,  2008;;  Schwalbe  et  al.,  2000).    By   claiming  a  local  Filipino  identity,  these  individuals  construct  a  narrative  that  draws  upon   the  central  frames  of  colorblind  racism  (Bonilla-­Silva,  2014;;  Bonilla-­Silva  &  Forman,   2000);;  local  individuals  become  viewed  as  a  single  group,  which  effectively  minimizes   experiences  with  racism  and  the  importance  of  race  in  organizing  social  relations.    This   process  of  defensive  othering  maintains  Filipino  as  a  stigma,  strengthens  the  colonial   mentality,  and  leads  many  Filipinos  to  distance  themselves  from  their  ethnic  heritage.      



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

  Challenging  the  Colonial  Mentality  with  Education      

Many  scholars  suggest  that  a  decolonizing  educational  experience,  which  

provides  students  with  a  space  to  question  the  ideology  of  “cultural  inferiority  based  on   master  narratives  that  portray  Filipinos  as  either  having  a  damaged  culture  or  none  at   all”  (Strobel,  1996,  p.  40),  can  challenge  the  colonial  mentality  (David,  2011;;  David  &   Okazaki,  2006a;;  Freire,  1970;;  hooks,  2010;;  Nadal,  2004;;  San  Juan,  2006;;  Strobel,   1996;;  Tuason,  Taylor,  Rollings,  Harris  &  Martin,  2006).    While  there  has  been  significant   growth  in  Filipino  centered  programs  and  curricula,  Halagao,  Tintiangco-­Cubales,  and   Cordova  (2009)  argue  that  critical  pedagogy,  critical  content,  and  critical  instruction  are   necessary  for  these  programs  to  be  effective.    Therefore,  classes  need  to  include   “content  and  resources  that  challenge  historical  and  cultural  hegemony  through  the   centralization  of  Filipina/o  American  resistance  and  counterhegemonic  narratives”  and   instruction  that  goes  beyond  the  superficial  approach  that  simply  teaches  students   about  “traditional”  songs,  dances,  and  foods  of  the  Philippines  (Halagao  et  al.,  2009,  p.   5-­8).   Instead,  Halagao  (2004)  argues  for  an  educational  model  where  students  can   actively  reflect  on  what  being  Filipino  means  to  them  and  does  not  simply  replace  one   master  narrative  with  another.  Engaging  students  in  the  process  of  decolonizing  the   mind  must  include  processes  of  naming,  reflection,  and  action  (Strobel,  2001).  The   process  of  naming  and  recognizing  internalized  racism  helps  individuals  critically  reflect   upon  the  colonial  narratives  that  led  them  to  develop  a  colonial  mentality.  This  reflective   process  often  helps  one  reframe  how  they  understand  their  ethnic  identity  and  facilitates  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

social  activism  towards  improving  the  visibility  and  empowerment  of  the  Filipino   community.     Therefore,  the  process  of  decolonizing  the  mind  provides  individuals  with  the   experiences  essential  to  develop  a  secure  ethnic  identity:  (a)  exploration  of  one’s   culture,  (b)  commitment  to  one’s  ethnic  group,  and  (c)  positive  affect  towards  one’s   ethnic  background  (Erikson,  1968;;  Marcia,  1980;;  Phinney,  1990,  1993;;  Phinney  and   Ong,  2007;;  Umana-­Taylor,  Bhanot,  and  Shin,  2006).  In  this  process  the  strengths  of   being  Filipino  are  highlighted,  which  requires  students  to  re-­evaluate  internalized  racial   stereotypes.  Often,  the  discourse  about  the  marginalized  group  shifts  from  a  deficit   perspective,  which  employs  a  white  middle  class  standard  to  examine  the  types  of   capital  communities  of  color  lack,  to  an  assets  perspective  that  acknowledges  the  many   forms  of  capital  that  are  possessed  by  communities  of  color  (Yosso,  2005).  The  shift   from  a  deficit  perspective  to  an  assets  perspective  often  helps  individuals  to  develop  a   more  positive  view  of  their  Filipino  ethnic  identity.   Methodology     The  data  for  this  study  come  from  essays  written  by  Filipino  students  enrolled  in   Filipino  language  and  culture  classes  at  a  four-­year  university  in  Hawai‘i  that  were   published  in  Katipunan  Literary  Journal1.  These  essays  all  examined  the  writer’s   experience  of  being  Filipino  in  Hawai‘i  and/or  the  writer’s  process  of  negotiating  a   Filipino  identity  in  Hawai‘i.  Although  the  essays  were  written  in  English,  Tagalog,  and                                                                                                                   1

Although  the  journal  is  publically  available,  the  data  analysis  was  conducted  with  deidentified  data  to   protect  the  writers’  identities.  Therefore,  quotes  presented  throughout  this  article  are  not  cited  in  a  manner   that  links  the  data  to  the  authors.  Since  this  article  presents  a  critical  analysis  of  the  writers’  ethnic  identity   development  and  learning  in  these  courses,  the  researchers  believe  deidentifying  the  data  helps  to   preserve  the  author’s  reputation  and  social  connections  they  may  have  with  the  instructors  of  these   courses.    



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

Ilocano,  the  researchers’  limited  knowledge  of  Tagalog  and  Ilocano,  along  with  financial   constraints  that  did  not  allow  for  the  hiring  of  a  translator,  limited  analysis  to  essays   written  in  English.    Furthermore,  essays  used  in  the  analysis  needed  to  include  a   discussion  of  the  student’s  experience  of  being  Filipino  in  Hawai‘i  or  reflections  on   developing  a  Filipino  identity.    The  use  of  these  two  criteria  resulted  in  105  essays  for   the  sample.       Modified  grounded  theory  practices  (Charmaz,  2006;;  Glaser  &  Strauss,  1967;;   Strauss  &  Corbin,  1998)  were  used  to  identify  themes  in  the  data.  Initial  coding  was   completed  through  line-­by-­line  coding,  a  coding  technique  that  forces  researchers  to   focus  on  small  bits  of  data  that  are  often  not  complete  thoughts,  as  thoughts  often  span   numerous  lines  in  documents  (Strauss  &  Corbin,  1998).  Upon  completing  line-­by-­line   coding,  each  researcher  completed  focused  coding  by  examining  the  initial  codes  and   organizing  them  into  broader  thematic  codes  that  emerged  from  the  data.  Employing   grounded  theory  practices  allowed  the  analysis  to  emerge  out  of  the  data  and  limited   the  insider  knowledge  that  the  researchers  could  have  applied  to  analysis  of  the  essays.   This  coding  approach  seemed  the  most  appropriate  for  the  analysis  because    two  of  the   researchers  are  members  of  the  Filipino  community  who  have  an  interest  in  seeing  the   Filipino  community  and  programs  thrive  in  Hawai‘i  and  also  know  many  of  the   individuals  who  teach  the  Filipino  language  and  culture  classes  in  Hawai‘i.  Therefore,   engaging  in  grounded  theory  practices  helped  address  many  of  the  issues  that  have   been  identified  with  conducting  insider  research  (Acker,  2000;;  Asselin,  2003;;  Brannick  &   Coghlan,  2007;;  Kanuha,  2000).  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

It  is  important  to  note  that  the  analyzed  essays  were  written  as  part  of  the  course   requirements,  which  has  the  potential  to  influence  the  content  of  the  essays.      While  the   writers  may  have  been  less  candid  in  their  writing,  as  they  may  have  been  attempting  to   please  their  instructors,  initial  screenings  of  the  data  suggest  that  writers  were  quite   candid  in  their  pieces,  expressing  struggles  with  being  Filipino,  asserting  a  Filipino   identity,  and  understanding  what  it  meant  to  be  Filipino.  The  grounded  theory  analysis   also  yielded  an  interesting  critique  of  the  classroom  experience,  suggesting  that  the   educational  experiences  reproduced  patterns  of  othering  and  were  not  always  positive.   As  discussed  below,  the  analysis  found  (a)  students  held  beliefs  consistent  with  a   colonial  mentality,  (b)  educational  experiences  enabled  students  to  assert  a  Filipino   identity,  and  (c)  the  assertion  of  a  Filipino  identity  often  reinforced  the  boundaries   between  local  Filipinos  and  immigrant  Filipinos.   This  methodological  approach,  which  allowed  the  researchers  to  address  issues   inherent  in  insider  research,  produced  a  robust  analysis  of  the  data  that  reflects   students’  experiences  of  being  Filipino  in  Hawai‘i.  Overall,  the  research  shows  that   students  experienced  familial  socialization  that  encouraged  them  to  reject  their  Filipino   identity;;  a  lesson  that  was  reinforced  by  the  students’  experiences  with  race  and  ethnic   based  discrimination  outside  of  their  families.  Furthermore,  the  research  demonstrates   that  the  students’  educational  experiences  helped  them  to  assert  a  Filipino  identity   through  an  essentialized  image  of  what  it  means  to  be  Filipino.  Emphasis  on  an   essentialist  image,  albeit  a  positive  depiction,  reinforced  the  division  between  local   Filipinos  and  immigrant  Filipinos  and  decreased  the  importance  of  an  ongoing  and  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

intersectional  (Collins  2001;;  Crenshaw  1991;;  Glenn  1992)  negotiation  of  a  dynamic  and   context-­specific  ethnic  identity.   The  Starting  Point:  A  Colonial  Mentality   The  majority  of  the  essays  demonstrated  that  the  students  often  entered  the   classroom  with  a  colonial  mentality  that  was  fostered  through  familial  socialization  and   experiences  with  marginalization  and  discrimination  in  the  broader  society.    One  student   summarized  his  or  her  experiences  with  being  Filipino  as,  “growing  up  all  I  knew  was   America—food,  language,  beliefs—and  my  Filipino  heritage  stayed  dormant  in  blissful   ignorance.”    Another  student  expressed  similar  sentiments  and  wrote,     Being  first  generation  Fil-­Am,  I  was  raised  American  style  because  my   parents  believed  that  was  what  was  best  for  me  to  be  able  to  fit  in  and   become  prosperous.  Because  of  this,  English  was  the  one  and  only   language  I  was  taught  to  read  and  write  in.       Both  students  described  experiences  of  being  shielded  from  exploring  their  Filipino   identity.  Filipino  culture  is  contrasted  against  American  culture,  with  American  culture   being  privileged.    One  of  the  primary  ways  that  students  were  socialized  into  a  colonial   mentality  is  through  family  members’  refusal  to  teach  children  Filipino  languages.    One   student  recounted,  “All  four  of  my  grandparents  were  born  in  the  Philippines  [and]   growing  up  I  would  hear  them  speaking  the  language,  but  they  never  spoke  it  to  me.    If   you  were  to  tell  me  something  in  Filipino,  I  can  honestly  say  that  I  would  not  recognize  a   single  word.”    Ultimately,  the  students  came  from  a  background  that  taught  them  to  view   Filipino  culture  as  something  that  was  not  valuable  and  should  be  left  behind.        

These  messages  were  reinforced  by  students’  interactions  with  oppressive  and  

marginalizing  structures  and  stereotypes  about  Filipinos  in  their  broader  social   environments.    Many  students  had  these  marginalizing  experiences  in  the  educational  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

system.    A  1.5  generation  Filipino-­American  wrote,  “[I  had  to]  repeat  kindergarten   because  the  school  administration  deemed  that  the  Philippine  educational  system  was   not  up  to  par,”  while  another  wrote  about  having  to  “take  a  special  class”  to  help   improve  his  or  her  English  and  felt  “embarrassed  to  return  to  a  classroom  full  of   opinionated  four  year  olds,  who  mocked  my  inability  to  pronounce  p’s  and  f’s  correctly.”     Beyond  the  educational  system  many  students  realized  that  being  Filipino  in  Hawai‘i   meant  being  “seen  at  the  bottom  rung  of  the  social  ladder”  and  being  the  target  of  “the   Filipino  stereotypes…that  [others]  assumed  applied  to  all  Filipinos.”    One  student   lamented,  “there  [are]  so  many  stereotypes  about  Filipinos  and  the  culture  that  I  have   been  alienated  by  all  the  stories  I  have  heard.”    Ultimately,  students  wrote  that  they  felt   alienated  from  their  peers  and  community  for  being  Filipino  because  they  were   disrespected  and  looked  down  upon.       This  often  led  many  students  to  exhibit  behaviors  characteristic  of  a  colonial   mentality,  as  one  student  wrote,  “I  began  to  feel  hate  towards  my  own  culture  and   wished  not  to  be  Filipino  at  all.”    In  order  to  “fit  in,”  students  often  attempted  to  adopt   American  practices  and  distance  themselves  from  their  family’s  practices.    One  student   wrote,  “The  fear  of  not  belonging…fueled  my  annoyance  with  Filipino  food…I  slowly   began  to  stray  away  from  Filipino  dishes…[and]  I  asked  my  mom  why  we  didn’t  eat   normal  food  (emphasis  added),”  while  another  wrote,  “I  never  mentioned  my  Grandma’s   kankanen  [snacks]  and  lumpia  [spring  rolls]  when  everyone  else  was  eating  sushi,   ramen,  or  mochi…I  ignore[d]  my  own  culture.”    Marginalizing  experiences  related  to   being  Filipino  and  failed  attempts  to  “fit  in”  reinforced  familial  socialization  of  the  colonial   mentality  and  led  many  students  to  “wish  [they]  had  no  connection  to  a  Filipino  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

background.”    Ultimately,  the  inculcation  of  a  colonial  mentality  seemed  to  help   individuals  to  remain  in  Nadal’s  (2004)  assimilation  stage,  as  they  believed  that  rejecting   being  Filipino  and  adopting  American  culture  was  the  way  to  be  normal  in  society.    One   student  demonstrated  how  powerful  the  colonial  mentality  was  in  his  or  her  life  and   wrote,  “My  parents  asked  me  what  I  thought  I  was.    I  didn’t  even  have  to  think  about  it.    I   told  them,  I’m  White.”   Asserting  Filipino  and  Processes  of  Othering    

Although  the  essays  demonstrated  that  the  Filipino  language  and  culture  courses  

helped  students  assert  a  Filipino  identity,  students  wrote  about  a  Filipino  identity  as   something  to  adopt  rather  than  construct.    Therefore,  identity  construction  was  a   process  of  adopting  the  characteristics  of  being  Filipino  rather  than  exploring  and   incorporating  knowledge  to  understand  what  being  Filipino  meant  to  each  individual.     The  distance  between  the  individual  and  a  Filipino  identity  is  evident  in  many  of  the   students’  essay  titles  such  as:  Rediscovering  my  Filipino  Culture,  Discovering  my   Identity,  Philippine  Values  and  Me,  and  Filipino  Values  and  I.    These  titles  suggest  that   Filipino  culture  and  identity  were  viewed  as  external  to  the  individual  and  had  to  be   discovered,  which  also  suggests  that  students  were  not  actively  engaged  in  defining,   creating,  and  understanding  how  their  ethnic  identity  emerged  through  situated  social   interactions  and  specific  social  contexts.        

This  externalization  of  Filipino  identity  was  further  evident  in  many  of  the  

students’  essays.    One  individual  wrote,     The  majority  of  topics  we  covered  in  this  class  are  about  the  different   values  that  Filipinos  have.  After  covering  some  lessons  I  stopped  and   asked  myself  ‘are  you  really  Filipino?’  because  the  Filipino  values  that   were  introduced  seemed  alien  to  me…I  could  relate  more  with  the  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

American  [values]…I  was  kind  of  disappointed  with  myself.  How  could  I   forget  to  be  a  Filipino?     Here  the  student’s  question  about  how  one  could  forget  to  be  Filipino,  suggests   that  there  are  distinguishing  characteristics,  values,  attitudes,  and  behaviors  that   one  must  adopt  to  truly  be  Filipino.    Another  student  argued  that  adopting  a   positive  Filipino  identity  was  easy  if  one  were  to  look  back  into  history  and  adopt   the  main  Filipino  cultural  values  that  allow  one  to  understand  what  it  meant  to  be   Filipino.    The  student  wrote,  “A  Filipino  cultural  background  is  who  we  are.    This   is  our  roots  and  they  make  the  person  we  are.    If  we  lose  sight  of  who  were  are,   then  we  are  lost…when  the  answers  were  right  in  front  of  us  all  the  time.”     Another  student  made  this  point  explicitly  clear  by  writing  that  the  only  way  one   can  understand  the  “importance  of  being  Filipino  [is  by]  accepting  [his  or  her]   native  language  and  culture.”    Therefore,  students  did  not  believe  that  they  could   merge  American  culture  with  Filipino  culture  to  cultivate  a  Filipino  identity;;   instead,  they  needed  to  choose  between  the  two  and  choosing  Filipino  culture   was  the  only  way  to  actually  develop  a  Filipino  identity.       It  is  arguable  that  this  externalization  and  adoption  of  a  Filipino  identity  stems   from  the  way  Filipino  identity  and  culture  were  presented  to  the  students.  These  essays   suggest  that  these  students  were  introduced  to  an  essentialist  argument  about  what  it   means  to  be  Filipino.  Therefore,  they  were  taught  that  there  are  certain  criteria  that  one   must  meet  in  order  to  be  Filipino.  If  an  individual  did  not  meet  these  criteria,  they  did  not   fully  understand  what  it  meant  to  be  Filipino  and  would  always  feel  like  Filipino  values   were  “alien  to  them.”     Filipinos  Speak  Filipino  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    


  For  many  of  these  students  the  essentialist  argument  about  what  it  meant  to  be  

Filipino  required  them  to  speak  a  Filipino  language.  The  students  wrote,  “language  is  an   essential  aspect  of  an  individual’s  culture,”  “language  expresses  culture  in  many  ways,”   and  “one  cannot  appreciate  the  traditions  and  customs  if  one  does  not  know  the   language.”  Students  were  taught  that  language  “affects  the  fundamental  beliefs  and   behavior  patterns  of  a  particular  civilization”  and,  therefore,  “language  will  always  play  a   significant  role  in  learning  their  culture  and  ultimately  learning  about  one’s  self.”  While   the  important  role  of  language  in  the  transmission  of  culture  should  not  be  downplayed,   many  of  the  essays  suggested  that  Filipino  culture  could  not  be  passed  down  through   generations  through  the  English  language.  Therefore,  it  was  essential  that  one  speak  a   Filipino  language  to  truly  understand  what  it  means  to  be  Filipino.    

Once  one  could  speak  a  Filipino  language,  they  could  begin  to  understand  and  

adopt  many  of  the  core  Filipino  values  that  were  presented  in  this  essentialized  version   being  Filipino.  One  individual  wrote,  “the  usage  of  both  terms  [manong  [older  brother]   and  manang  [older  sister]]  shows  how  language  expresses  the  Filipino  value  of  close   familial  relations  and  respect.”  Another  individual  stated,  “the  Tagalog  term  “lolo”  is  used   whenever  a  younger  generation  talks  to  their  grandfather.  This  particular  behavior  is   reflective  of  the  culture’s  reverence  and  respect  for  the  older  generation.”  Therefore,  to   be  Filipino  one  must  have  close  family  ties,  as  represented  by  “Filipino  parents  [who]   take  care  of  their  children  as  long  as  possible…[which]  is  an  example  of  utang  na  loob   (debt  of  gratitude).”  Many  of  the  essays  also  included  descriptions  about   multigenerational  households,  where  ‘three  generations  [are]  living  in  one  house.”  The   students  did  not  attribute  the  close  familial  ties  and  multigenerational  households  to  the  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

structural  concentration  of  Filipinos  in  low-­wage  jobs  and  the  high  cost  of  living  in   Hawai‘i,  which  could  have  been  an  opportunity  discuss  how  ethnic  identities  also   intersect  with,  for  example,  class  identities,  but  instead  these  experiences  of  family  and   household  structure  were  attributed  to  the  cultural  value  of  utang  na  loob.  The  students   argued  that  an  individual  without  close  family  ties  could  not  understand  what  it  means  to   be  Filipino.      

Furthermore,  the  students  were  taught  to  appreciate  the  value  of  hiya  

(shame)  and  how  it  maintains  hierarchies.  An  individual  wrote,  “Filipinos  speak  in   a  soft  and  gentle  manner…to  seem  very  passive  and  sensitive.  Filipinos  speak  in   this  manner  to  show  respect  towards  their  elders.”  Filipinos,  therefore,  are   required  to  adopt  characteristics  such  as  “passivity”  and  “docility”  as  they  have   “something  to  do  with  Filipino  values.”  Students  learned  that  this  value  of  respect,   shame,  and  humility  extends  beyond  the  family  and  into  society.  An  individual   wrote,  “Seniority  has  always  been  highly  regarded…young  ones  must  conform  to   the  wisdom  of  older  people  regardless  of  whether  it  is  right  or  wrong.”   Furthermore,  the  writers  were  taught  that  the  true  Filipino  is  modest  and  “tends  to   attribute  success  to  luck  and  God’s  will.  When  praised  for  an  achievement,   [Filipinos]  will  say  Sinuwerte  lang  (I  was  only  lucky)…  even  though  they  worked   hard  for  their  achievement.”     The  essentialist  construction  of  Filipino  created  two  groups  for  students:   individuals  who  understand  and  adopt  true  Filipino  values  and  those  who  do  not.  Unlike   the  colonial  mentality,  the  individuals  who  demonstrated  the  essentialist  Filipino   characteristics  were  privileged  over  those  who  did  not.  These  teachings  and  othering  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

processes  were  demonstrated  in  many  of  the  essays.  As  one  student  noted,   “Nowadays,  people  that  are  born  in  America  are  becoming  Americanized  and  follow  the   American  way  of  life  such  as  speaking  English…if  you  don’t  know  your  language,  then   you  won’t  know  your  culture.”  Here,  individuals  who  understand  the  Filipino  language   are  portrayed  as  cultured  and  privileged.  Other  writers  expressed  similar  sentiments.   When  discussing  family,  one  individual  wrote:   Unlike  a  Filipino  family,  many  American  families  do  not  have  this  value.   Although  American  families  do  care  for  one  another,  they  do  not  provide   care  all  throughout  one’s  life…  In  many  [Filipino]  homes  you  will  see  three   generations  living  under  one  roof.  These  are  the  grandparents,  parents,   and  the  children  who  all  take  care  of  one  another.     In  this  instance  Americanized  families  are  viewed  as  less  caring  and  less  supportive   than  Filipino  families.    Other  writers  criticized  local  or  Americanized  Filipinos,  while   privileging  those  that  abided  by  true  Filipino  values,  by  discussing  the  value  of  respect.   One  essay  included  the  following  passage:   Children  are  raised  to  be  submissive  and  obedient,  but  through  the   influence  of  peers,  and  because  of  outside  influences,  they  become  unruly   and  rebellious,  and  begin  having  characteristics  that  are  unlike  children  in   the  Philippines.  In  Hawai‘i,  it  is  common  to  see  Filipino  children  answering   back  their  parents  without  any  guilt.  It  is  obvious  that  the  values  of  hiya   and  utang  na  loob  are  obviously  not  preventing  them  from  acting  so   disrespectful  to  the  parents  whom  they  owe  so  much.       Another  individual  expressed  a  similar  sentiment  about  local  or  Americanized  Filipino   students  in  the  classroom  and  wrote,  “Students  speak  their  mind  regardless  of  what   other  students  feel.  This  is  an  outrageous  act  based  upon  my  social  value  of   maintaining  smooth  interpersonal  relationships.”  In  another  essay,  a  student  explicitly   defines  the  problems  with  local  or  Americanized  Filipinos:   I  see  Filipino  families  come  to  Hawaii  and  become  disoriented  from  their   family  values,  becoming  materialistic,  trying  to  show  society  their  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    


success…respect  is  important  but  is  slowly  disappearing  as  the  younger   generations  believe  that  respect  must  be  reciprocated  by  their   parents…there  are  many  negative  aspects  about  Filipino  culture  here  in   Hawaii.     Overall,  it  is  clear  that  these  students  developed  pride  in  being  Filipino  and  are,  

perhaps,  more  secure  in  their  Filipino  identity  than  before  they  enrolled  in  the  course.   However,  it  is  arguable  that  their  new  pride  in  being  Filipino  does  not  stem  from  a   decolonizing  educational  experience  that  allowed  these  individuals  to  create  and   understand  a  personalized  Filipino  identity.  Instead  these  individuals  were  presented   with  a  master  narrative  about  what  it  means  to  be  Filipino,  which  privileged  individuals   who  understood  what  it  meant  to  adopt  true  Filipino  values.  These  individuals  then  had   to  choose  to  adopt  or  reject  this  master  narrative  and  the  essential  construction  of   Filipino.  The  danger  of  these  kinds  of  educational  practices  mean  that  many   experiences  where  class,  gender,  race,  and  ethnicity  intersect  are  not  critically   examined  to  show  how  systems  of  oppression  are  pervasive  and  co-­constitutive.  The   essays  suggest  that  as  students  accepted  the  curriculum’s  positive  representation  of   Filipino  culture,  they  also  participated  in  the  othering  of  local  or  Americanized  Filipinos.   This  is  especially  clear  in  this  passage  from  an  essay:     To  attain  social  mobility,  she  had  to  do  something  about  it  and  not  wait  for   fate  to  decide  it  for  her.  My  sister  and  I  have  been  quite  ignorant  about   what  it  means  to  be  a  Filipino.  Now,  thanks  to  [this]  Filipino  [course],  I  am   learning  the  meaning  of  being  Filipino  and  I  can  remind  my  mom  of  the   values  she  left  behind  and  educate  my  sister.       This  statement,  as  well  as  many  others  presented  above,  suggest  that  Filipino  culture  is   in  conflict  with  American  or  local  culture.  Furthermore,  students  expressed  a  sentiment   that  there  is  a  correct  way  to  understand  what  it  means  to  be  Filipino.  In  the  last  quote   the  writer  clearly  suggests  that  now  that  he  or  she  understands  the  essentialist  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

construction  of  what  it  means  to  be  Filipino,  he  or  she  can  remind  his  or  her  mother   about  the  important  values  that  were  left  behind  in  order  to  achieve  success.   Discussion  and  Conclusions     This  qualitative  analysis  of  essays  written  by  students  enrolled  in  Filipino   language  and  culture  courses  demonstrates  that  being  Filipino  still  operates  as  a  stigma   in  Hawai‘i.  Although  Filipino  language  and  culture  courses  provide  a  positive  lens  to   understand  Filipinos  through,  students  often  write  about  the  transformation  as  adopting   an  essentialist  construction  of  what  it  means  to  be  Filipino.  Therefore,  even  if  the   instructors  are  attempting  to  engage  in  decolonizing  educational  practices,  the  students   may  not  be  experiencing  a  decolonizing  of  the  mind,  as  they  are  simply  replacing  a   negative  master  narrative  with  a  more  positive  master  narrative.  This  was  clearly   demonstrated  in  the  way  students  wrote  about  their  new  understanding  of  being  Filipino,   as  an  identity  they  adopted  rather  than  constructed.      

It  is  important  to  note  that  many  of  the  students  did  not  initiate  the  process  of  

distancing  themselves  from  being  Filipino.  Instead,  the  colonial  mentality  was   transferred  from  one  generation  to  the  next  through  early  familial  socialization.  The   fostering  of  a  colonial  mentality  did  not  allow  many  individuals  to  understand  what  it   meant  to  be  Filipino  and,  therefore,  they  could  not  critically  examine  the  negative   stereotypes  and  oppressive  structures  that  marginalize  Filipinos  in  Hawai‘i.  Without  a   firm  understanding  of  what  it  means  to  be  Filipino,  the  students’  experiences  with  racist   ideology  and  discrimination  encouraged  them  to  further  distance  themselves  from  being   Filipino  and  reinforced  a  colonial  mentality.    Thus,  the  students  were  socialized  to  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

inhabit  what  Nadal  (2004)  identifies  as  the  assimilation  stage  in  Filipino  identity   development.    

While  this  research  critically  examines  the  outcomes  of  the  Filipino  language  and  

culture  courses,  it  is  important  to  note  that,  as  previous  research  suggests  (David,  2011;;   Nadal,  2004;;  San  Juan,  2006;;  Strobel,  1996,  2001;;  Tuason,  Taylor,  Rollings,  Harris  &   Martin,  2006),  many  of  the  students  left  the  class  with  a  stronger  sense  of  pride  in  being   Filipino.  While  this  is  a  positive  outcome,  it  is  important  to  critically  examine  the  process   that  allowed  these  individuals  to  develop  a  greater  sense  of  pride  in  being  Filipino.  As   shown  through  this  analysis,  these  students  wrote  about  learning  to  be  Filipino  by   adopting  an  essentialized  image  of  what  it  meant  to  be  Filipino.  Thus,  Filipino  identity   became  a  checklist  of  values,  attitudes,  and  behaviors  that  had  to  be  adopted.  This   checklist  could  be  compared  to  an  alternative  experience  that  centers  around  self-­ reflection  on  whether  these  various  cultural  ideas  actually  reflect  students’  current   identities  and  daily  experiences  and,  moreover,  whether  forces  other  than  mere  culture   (for  example,  economic  and  political  forces)  that  shape  contemporary  Filipino  identity  in   different  social  contexts.    

The  representation  of  an  essentialized  image  of  Filipinoness  in  these  classes  can  

be  problematic  for  two  reasons:  (a)  it  justifies  many  of  the  stereotypes  about  Filipinos   and  (b)  it  continues  to  encourage  processes  of  othering  within  the  Filipino  community.   First,  the  essentialist  argument  that  all  Filipinos  are  docile,  humble,  soft-­spoken,   obedient,  and  fatalistic  appears  to  employ  a  core  frame  of  colorblind  racism  known  as   cultural  racism  (Bonilla-­Silva  2014;;  Bonilla-­Silva  and  Forman  2000),  which  blames   ethnic  minorities  for  their  inability  to  thrive  in  a  white  dominated  society.    Therefore,  the  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

low  social  status  and  marginalization  of  Filipinos  becomes  justified  and  explained   through  a  cultural  logic.  When  these  traits  are  highlighted  as  the  core  essence  of  being   Filipino,  they  can  be  used  to  explain  why  Filipinos  are  concentrated  in  the  service  sector   and  not  managerial  positions,  by  supporting  the  argument  that  Filipinos  are  content  and   well-­suited  for  subservient  positions  that  do  not  offer  opportunities  for  upward  social   mobility.  Ultimately,  this  representation  of  being  Filipino  is  problematic  because  while  it   allows  an  individual  to  feel  better  about  being  Filipino,  it  provides  a  cultural  explanation   for  Filipinos  economic  and  structural  subordination.  Moreover,  the  cultural  explanation   seems  to  suggest  that  culture  is  static  and  unchanging  and  not  influenced  by  economic   and  political  realities  (Lowe  1996;;  Ong  1999).      

Secondly,  the  essentialist  argument  about  true  Filipinoness  creates  a  dichotomy  

between  individuals  that  understand  what  it  means  to  be  Filipino  and  those  that  do  not,   with  the  former  being  viewed  as  the  privileged  group.  Therefore,  students  felt  the  need   to  “rediscover  their  Filipino  roots”  and  remind  others  about  the  Filipino  values  that  they   may  have  left  behind  in  their  Americanization  process.  These  students  began  to  argue   that  those  who  did  not  understand  being  Filipino  through  the  positive  image  presented   in  the  language  and  culture  classes  did  not  have  a  thorough  understanding  of  what  it   means  to  be  Filipino.  In  this  reframing  of  what  it  means  to  be  Filipino,  Filipino  became   constructed  as  a  privileged  status.  However,  Filipino  culture  and  American  culture  were   still  presented  as  a  dichotomy,  which  suggested  that  the  two  identities  could  not  be   reconciled  and  that  an  individual  would  have  to  choose  a  side.  These  cultural  tensions   were  especially  evident  in  the  students’  statements  that  an  individual  could  not  truly   understand  Filipino  culture,  attitudes,  or  values  without  speaking  a  Filipino  language.  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

The  attempt  to  develop  a  sense  of  pride  in  being  Filipino  reinforced  distinctions  of   difference  and  value,  suggesting  that  Filipinos  who  could  speak  the  language  had  more   value  as  real  Filipinos  than  Filipinos  who  could  not.  This  kind  of  boundary-­marking   undermines  the  goal  of  developing  pride  in  a  changing  Filipino  identity  and  community.      

Overall,  the  Filipino  community  in  Hawai‘i  has  been  quite  successful  in  becoming  

recognized  as  a  unique  ethnic  group,  which  is  evidenced  by  the  presence  of  Filipino   language,  history,  and  culture  classes  at  various  universities  in  Hawai‘i.  While  this  is  no   small  feat,  it  is  arguable  that  the  community  and  development  of  pride  in  being  Filipino   can  be  strengthened  by  reevaluating  the  way  these  courses  encourage  students  to   develop  a  Filipino  identity.  It  is  arguable  that,  perhaps,  these  classes  are  structured  to   present  students  with  an  essentialist  view  of  what  it  means  to  be  Filipino  because   professors  are  required  to  evaluate  their  students’  progress  and  assign  a  grade  to  their   intellectual  development.  This,  of  course,  is  a  problem  of  the  banking  system  of   education  (Freire,  1970),  which  depends  on  tests  and  the  regurgitation  of  information  to   prove  mastery  over  course  content.     While  this  method  of  learning  may  be  beneficial  in  some  courses,  courses  that   attempt  to  help  students  understand  and  develop  a  sense  of  pride  in  their  identity   should  strive  to  incorporate  problem  posing  educational  strategies  that  encourage   critical  thinking  and  move  students  beyond  memorization  of  information  into  knowledge   creation  (hooks,  2010).  Problem  posing  education  aims  to  decenter  power  in  the   classroom  by  allowing  instructors  to  move  away  from  essentialist  arguments  about   ethnic  groups  and  encourages  each  individual  to  contribute  to  knowledge  creation.   Ideally,  students  in  these  classrooms  would  be  better  equipped  to  understand  how  their  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

Filipino  background  intersects  with  their  other  identities  (e.g.,  gender,  sexuality,  social   class).  Helping  students  to  interrogate  essentialist  constructions  of  ethnic  identity  by   comparing  these  models  to  the  messiness  of  lived  experiences  will  intellectually  prepare   students  to  move  beyond  a  discussion  deceivingly  limited  to  ethnic  identity  formation.  



Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

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Journal  Committed  to  Social  Change  on  Race  and  Ethnicity  |  2015    

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