Friday, June 12, 2009
Seriously, defining Filipinoness is a difficult task. It is so because I believe that the activity involves looking beyond the surface value of things considered Filipino. In other words, being a Filipino goes more than the issues of geographical location, of blood and marital relations, and of physical features. To be defined Filipino, one may be born and may live permanently in any of the 7, 107 islands of the country, but then, there are Filipinos displaced by migration across the globe and remain Filipinos by citizenship despite the case. In the opposite vein, there are Filipinos who have never gone out of the country and seem foreigners to their own lands by way of their gestures, language or thinking. Likewise, to be defined Filipino, one may be related to kin of Filipino descent or marry someone with Filipino lineage; then again, there are Filipinos who, for some reason or another, abhor such relations that they hide the fact. Finally, to be defined Filipino, one has to possess the common physical characteristics associated to people with Malay features: brown skin, black hair, chinky eyes, slender body, upturned nose, high cheekbones, full lips. Then again, Filipinos have intermarried with their colonizers and in effect, acquired mestizo features like light skin, doe eyes, brown hair, patrician nose, thin lips. With all the variations affecting the definition of Filipinoness, I can only think of the conventional meaning of the term as a process continuing to evolve over time.
This process nonetheless, the Filipinos have created and must sustain such as a created identity through other sensibilities such as the social, cultural and the political factors. Whether or not the Filipinos are defined by way of geography, blood and marriage ties and/or physical looks, the Filipino consciousness may still emerge out of the values Filipinos manifest socially, culturally and politically. The extended family orientation, the regionalistic association, the Catholic conservativeness, the hospitable and smiling disposition, the industriousness, the love for fiestas and certain things stateside, the prowess in gossiping and videoke matches, the starstruck complex, the people power attitude—these are just some of the characteristics that define the Filipino sensibility. Filipinos possessing any or all of these features are Filipinos in the real sense of the term.
Now, the question: are you a Filipino?