Being Filipino Essays In English

The Metamorphosis of Filipino as National Language

by Jessie Grace U. Rubrico


Filipino -- the term used in both the 1973 and 1987 Philippine constitutions to designate as the "national language" of the Philippines, whether de jure or de facto, it matters not -- has come full-circle to prick the national consciousness and lay its vexing burden at the feet of our national planners, as well as of the academe. For indeed, the past six decades (since 1935) has seen "Pilipino" (or "Filipino," its more acceptable twin ) tossed in the waves of controversies between the pros and and the antis as each camp fires off volleys of linguistic cognoscente or even garbage, as the case may be, while the vast majority watched with glee or boredom.

With a strong constitutional mandate to evolve, further develop, and enrich Filipino "on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages" (Art. XIV, Sec.6, 1986 Constitution), our language planners were supposedly equipped to deal with the legal and administrative details of the problem, after the sad episodes appurtenant to its admittedly emotional sideshows in the 1971 Constitutional Convention (Santos, 1976) and the polemical articles of Vicente Sotto, et. al. (Rubrico, 1996), among others.

Key Issue and Sub-issues

But after more than 60 years, has Filipino truly metamorphosed into a Philippine national language? To what extent? What has been its "success stories"? Its failures? What is its current state or condition in the present? What needs to be further done? What is in store for the future? What are the development prospects of the other non-Tagalog languages of the Philippines for integration into Filipino?What are the
pervasive influence of English or of other foreign languages on today's speakers?

This paper is an indicative study of of Filipino's current lexicon, particularly borrowings from the English language --an ineluctable task, but necessary nonetheless, if one has to face honestly the current
phenomenon to be described more fully in this study. The researcher fully agrees with the observation that a national language can be a unifying concept of our continuing struggle against our colonizers
(Atienza,1996), of freeing ourselves from our colonial mindset (Maceda, 1996). Still, the illusory pitfalls (Constatino, 1996) warned about in the development of the national language compendium can be cause for some soul-searching pause, even as others deny them (Almario, 1996) with equal logic.

But if debates must continue, the let the "game" begin and may the best argument -as perceived by its arbiters. the officials and the public, especially--win. Language and culture are, after all, inseparable, with the people's lexicon mirroring their culture.

The Corpus

Virtually everyone agrees that media -print, radio, and television (and now, cyberspace) has had a profound influence on people, especially on their language. The Filipino spoken today, especially by the
young (35 years old and below) is undeniably distinctive, to use a loose term, and may have been so influenced by media to a greater extent. This Filipino is spoken by a significant segment of the population and it warrants a linguistic inquiry. Selected articles from Filipino tabloids and dailies, scholarly papers from the University of the Philippines Press, candid and structured interviews of college students, television news, sitcoms and talk shows, and radio programs in Metro Manila are some of the culled sources for the Filipino words, phrase, or sentences found in this study. Filipino, Tagalog, and Cebuano words are arrayed for cognate purposes, with English juxtaposed as a meta- or reference language. The corpus is found at the end of this paper as Appendix.

The conclusion derived therefrom form the bulk of the recommendations of this researcher, particularly on the "key success variables" that could ensure the continuing development and metamorphosis of Filipino as the national language of the Philippines in the next century.

Historical Perspective

The issue of our national language has been around for the past 60, or maybe even 90, years. The inhabitants of an archipelago with over a hundred languages need a common language with which they
could communicate with each other and express themselves as a people of one nation.

The 1987 Constitution provides that, "the national language of the Philippines is Filipino. As it evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis oe existing Philippine and other languages."

Perhaps it is unfortunate that when the Philippine Commission passed a bill in 1908 providing for an establishment of an Institute of Philippine languages and the training of public school teachers thereon, the Philippine Assembly rejected it through Leon Ma. Guerrero, its Chairman on Public Instruction who recognized the need for a common language for the Filipinos but who opted to adopt a foreign language instead of the native ones. Through him, the Philippine Assembly spoke, thus:

"The idea of studying the languages of the Philippine Archipelago is very plausible; but the present aspiration of  those who are interested in these languages is to unite them or reduce them into a single
language which, based on the principal dialects of the Islands, might constitute the means of inter-communication of ideas in the entire Archipelago, and which might obviate the absolute need now felt of using a common foreign tongue as a means of transmission of ideas, sentiments, and aspirations of the inhabitants of the Philippines." (Romualdez,1936: p.302).

In 1931, the ex-officio Secretary of Public Instruction, Mr. Butte, addressing the Catholic Women'sLeague, encouraged the use of the vernacular as medium of instruction in the primary grades (I to IV). He opined:

"If we may assume that one of the national objectives of the Philippines will be to preserve the important native languages, as far as practicable, the schools may contribute to the realization of this national objective by abondoning English as the sole medium of
instruction in the elementary schools . . ." (Romualdez,1936).

It must be noted that Lope K. Santos addressed the First Indepence Congress on 30 February 1930 by expounding on "The Vernacular as a Factor in National Solidarity and Independence." In 1932, Representative Manuel V. Gallego authored Bill No. 588 which provided for the use of the vernacular as the medium of instruction in all public elementary and secondary schools. In 1934 and 1935 the national language issue was discussed during the Consti- tutional Convention. And the Constitution mandated in Section 3, Article XIII: "The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of acommon language based on one of the existing native languages. . ."

The National Language Institute was established on 13 November1936 pursuant to Commonwealth Act No. 184, and it was tasked with "the study of Philippine dialects in general for the purpose of evolving and adopting a common national language based on one of the existing native tongues." This involved studying each language spoken by not less than half a million people, collecting and collating cognate sets and phrases from these languages, adopting a system for Philippine phonetics and ortography, comparing critically all Philippine affixes, and selecting the language which was the most develop in structure and
literature and widely accepted and used by most Filipinos --which will be the basis for the national language (Sec.V Art.1-5). The Institute was given a year to accomplish this.

Once the language is selected, the Institute is to prepare its grammar and dictionary within two years. Then it shall purify the language by weeding out the unnecessary foreign words, phrases, or other
grammatical constructions, and enrich it through borrowing from the native languages and dialects, from Spanish, and from English --in that order. And any word adopted into the national language should be subjected to the phonological rules and ortography of the Philippine languages.

In 1937, the Institute recommended Tagalog and came up with the Balarila and the Tagalog- English Dictionary. In 1959, the Department of Education called the Tagalog-based national language Pilipino. In
1965, some congressmen took the cudgels againsts the propagation of Pilipino, which to them is "puristang Tagalog," as the national language. This period witnessed the purists coining words like salumpuwit (chair), salimpapaw (airplane), sipnayan (mathematics), etc. In 1969, some non-Tagalog speakers, like the Madyaas Pro-Hiligaynon Society and some Cebuano groups complained against the movement of Manila toward "purismo." This gave rise to the problems that needed to be resolved before the non-Tagalog speakers could accept Tagalog as their own "wikang pambansa."

Be that as it may, the Board of National Education ordered in 1970 the gradual shift to Pilipino as medium of instruction in the elementary starting with Grade 1 in the school year 1974-75 and progressing into
higher grades, a level each year. It was also adopted as the medium of instruction for Rizal and history subjects in colleges and universities. In 7 August 1973, the Board of National Education introduced the
bilingual approach to teaching --that is, using two languages as media of instruction in the schools, to wit: the vernacular for Grades I and II, Pilipino for Grades III and IV, Pilipino and English for secondary and
tertiary levels.

This bilingual approach serves to promote the intellectualization of the national language --that is, to use it as medium of intellectual exchanges in the academe, government offices, as well as in other disciplines in the process of acquiring knowledge about the world which could be expressed by the said language. In addition, it will bring about a national unity and identity among Filipinos, as they can now express themselves and communicate with each other in a common language.

The 1973 Constitution states the National Assembly should endeavor towards developing and formally adopting a common national language to be called Filipino. Meantime, Pilipino and English remain the official languages unless repealed by law. Filipino is anchoredon Pilipino. Pilipino has borrowed and adopted a lot of words from the Spanish lexicon, Spain being the country's colonizer for over 300 years. These words are carried over to Filipino as Pilipino, as these lexical items have now undergone phonological and morphological processes and appear to be native terms. The borrowing from Spanish has now somewhat waned. What is prevalent in Filipino today is the rampant borrowing from English. Tabloids, dailies, weeklies, showbiz magazines, even the Cebuano weekly Bisaya are awashed with English words. The academicians as well as the newscasters in radio and television have adopted English words freely and liberally.

Filipino Today

The evolution of the Wikang Pambansa, now known as Filipino, has not remained uneventful, as one finds out from the its historical perspective in the previous section. From 1935 onwards, to the present 1990s we have seen this language develop, first as Tagalog-based that barely ill-disguised itself as the "national language"--a clear victory of Manuel L. Quezon and the espousal of the tagalistas over the Bisayan hopes of Sotto and his Ang Suga advocates-- then, in 1959 acquiring the term "Pilipino"given to it by executive fiat to remove the last vestiges of "tagalogism" and imprint its national character. In 1965, when the "puristas" (purists) attempted to enhance the vocabulary through artificial wordsmithing and thereby intensifying the 'word war" with their critics. Then, beginning in the 1970s which saw Pilipino finally being used as medium of instruction at the primary and secondary levels of public and private schools. And, lastly, from its 1987 constitutional enshrinement as "Filipino" to the present --an amalgamation of Pilipino/Tagalog, Spanish, and a preponderance for English in respelled forms.

Some lexical items given in the Appendix will now be discussed here as representing a type of dominant Filipino written or spoken in: (a) the academe;(b) a language journal; (c) a Cebuano weekly of general
circulation; (d) an article written by a noted Filipino linguists; (e) a series of TV news broadcasts, and (f) someMetro Manila daily tabloids. The choice of sources for these lexical items is rather arbitrary, albeit on firm linguistic ground that the best sources of data are the people themselves --what they speak, what they read, and so on. In this study,Tagalog and Cebuano speakers are taken as a combined language group comprising more than 50 per cent of the Philippine population (Atienza, 1996, citing NSO 1989 figures) with 92 per cent of Filipinos being able to speak the wikang pambansa, thus effectively establishing Filipino as the lingua franca of the country, if not, as the national language itself.

Exhibit A (please see Appendix) presents some lexical items used by professors of the University of the Philippines in their publications in Filipino on the same topic. These terms are arrayed alongside their
English equivalent. Thus, konsiderasyon is "consideration" (respelled form), natural is, likewise, "natural" (adopted form). The original data of about 600 terms show consistency on the aforementioned forms.

Exhibit B, with lexical items sourced from the writings of a distinguished group of Filipino writers, exhibits the same forms --respelled, affixed, or adopted (e.g., diyagram, kategorya, and minimal). Exhibit C, with lexical items from the highly popular and widely-circulated Cebuano weekly, Bisaya, shows a close congruence of Filipino usage as its staid counterparts above (Exhibits A and B). For instance, anowonser for "announcer," ideposito for "to deposit," and tiloring for "tailoring."

Exhibit D shows some lexical items from one of the works of the foremost proponent of the "universal approach" to Philippine languages (Constantino, 1974). These items are unabashed borrowing from the English language, such as fyutyur (future), vawel (vowel), tsok (chalk), sabjektiv (subjective), and diksyunari (dictionary).

Exhibit E is a transcription of terms used in selected, highly-rated TV newscasts in Filipino.Typically, the commentary is fast-paced, accompaniedby live "on the spot" camera footages, with words pouring out in staccato manner, like administrasyon, kovereyj, masaker, trafik apdeyt,insedente, aprobahan, and the like. (The respelling of these English equivalent in Filipino is the researcher's alone, consistent with the phonological rules of Philippine languages.)

Exhibit F lists lexical terms from the proliferating Metro Manila tabloids written in Filipino and read by the masa, the "man in the street" literally. Familiar words like mentaliti (mentality), sektor (sector), isyu (issue), and abroad (abroad).

Taken as a whole, the lexical items drawn from Exhibits A toF reveal a common, tell-tale pattern of usage one can ignore at his/herown peril. All point ot a heavy and consistent borrowing from the English
language. Why this phenomenon is so will be explained in the next section.

Towards a Theory of Filipino

What do academicians say about Filipino? Dr. Ernesto A. Constantino, a distinguished Filipino linguist says: "Ang pinili naming wika na idedebelop bilang wikang pambansa natin, ang tinawag naming
linggwa prangka o Filipino." [We chose to develop as national language Filipino, that which we refer to as the lingua franca] (Constantino, 1996:p.180). Atienza (1996) describes it as "isang wikang kompromiso, o lingua franca." Flores(1996) points out that Filipino is the language of the "kulturang popular na nagmula sa Metro Manila at pinapalaganap sa buong kapuluan." Another view is that of Isagani R. Cruz of DLSU who states that for him Filipino is the English-Tagalog code switch. On the other hand, Alegre (1989) expresses that "contemporary Manila Tagalog is the basis of Filipino." He claims that Tagalog is developing into the national language as it is the lingua franca of the non-Tagalog provinces.

Is the Tagalog-based Pilipino really Filipino? Dr. Constantino cites the differences between Pilipino and Filipino, to wit: Filipino (1) has more phonemes; (2) has a different system of ortography; (3) manifests a heavy borrowing from English; (4) has a different grammatical construction. Based on the trend of development of Filipino as manifested in the data presented in this study, as well as the actual usage by the linguistic trendsetters in Philippine society --newscasters (both in radio and television), Filipino writers and some academicians, showbiz personalities--it would appear that his theory is closest to reality.

There is a consensus, however, among the academicians above that Filipino is the lingua franca in MetroManila which is inexorably pervading the regional centers through the print and broadcast media,
through the songs that the local bands sing, through intellectual discussions among academicians, etc. It is the language through which a prominent Filipino linguistcommunicates (Exhibit D), as well as the medium of expression among academicians (Exhibit A), and of the "caretakers" or "authority" of national language development in the University of the Philippines System, namely, the writers and editors in the Sentro ng Wikang Filipino(Exhibit B).

Even the leading Cebuano weekly, Bisaya (which has been around for the past 68 years) has now printed in its pages loan words from English which, more often than not, retain their original spelling despite their being subjected to the Cebuano rules of grammar. One can safely say that Cebuano, like Tagalog, is undergoing linguistic change through lexical borrowing from English. Right now the Cebuanos adopt two alternate forms --the original spelling and the modified. Soon only one form will be retained, by theory of simplification as embodied in the universals of language.

At the moment, it is very clear that English borrowing has a dominant and pervading influence in the shaping of the lingua franca which is the penultimate form of Filipino, the national language. But will this
trend continue? Language is dynamic. This researcher is of the opinion that as long as English remains the official language of commerce, science,and technology the trend will continue.

Unfortunately, there isn't much borrowing from other Philippine languages. Maceda (1996) introduces some Cebuano words and phrases in her discourse. So natural was the insertion, the reader can contextualize the meaning. Atienza, in the same book included in his text "pakikipag- lakipan," the rootword of which, "lakip", is also found in the Cebuano lexicon. At the UP campus, one sees Cebuano signs like "Balay Kalinaw" and "Ugnayan sa Pahinungod." Would a little bit more adoption of words from other Philippine languages foster goodwill and unity among the etnolinguistic groups in the country in the future? Being a Cebuano, the researcher feels proud that some Cebuno terms are now significant in the national context. Probably members of disparate ethnolinguistic groups would most likely feel the same.

On the other hand, there are expressed illusory hindrances to the concept of a unifying language, to wit: (1) it is impossible to develop a national language from one of the country's 100-plus languages; (2) the emergence of a national language will wither the other languages; (3) it is equally impossible to develop a national language based on two or more languages; (4) regionalistic pride prevails over nationalistic aspiration --like the Cebuano who insists on using his own language over Pilipino.

But considering the rapid linguistic development of both Cebuano and the Metro Manila Filipino, there seems to be hope for Filipino. And this is manifested in the perceived convergence of Pilipino and
Cebuano through their respective borrowings from English. A few examples are given below:

I can't remember the exact moment I first realized I was Filipino-American. It was just part of who I was.

Perhaps it was because I grew up in a large Filipino-American community in the San Francisco Bay Area. Within a 20-mile radius were my 17 first cousins (and about 70 extended "cousins" who I may or may not have been actually related to). My earliest childhood memories involved running around cousins' houses, while the titos played mahjong or pusoy dos in a smoke-filled garage or basement. The dining room or kitchen always had a tableful of your basic staples: rice, chicken adobo, spaghetti with hot dog chunks, and pancit.

My high school was about 40% Filipino, and most of my friends were Filipino too. At our high school proms, we crammed 50 Filipinos into one group picture, just so we could have wallet-size photos to hand out to our friends. We wore "Filipino Pride" T-shirts and sang along to Jocelyn Enriquez songs on the radio. We could name all the famous Filipinos on TV and movies, mostly because there were so few of them.

There was Lea Salonga, Nia Peeples, Tia Carrere, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Rob Schneider from Saturday Night Live. Anyone with one drop of Filipino blood was considered family or someone to be proud of.

Despite this, we didn't really know much about what it meant to be Filipino-American. Only a few of my friends spoke Tagalog or another Filipino dialect; the rest of us spoke only English. And none of us were knowledgeable about Philippine or Filipino-American history. Although half of my classmates looked like me, our teachers didn't seem to acknowledge the diversity of our school, even though it was something many students talked about. We did have "Culture Week" once a year: We were encouraged to wear our native garb to school, and student groups performed their cultural dances during afternoon assemblies.

But for every other week of the school year, our classes focused on white American perspectives and histories. Instead of Jose Rizal or Jessica Hagedorn, we had Charles Dickens or Jane Austen. Instead of lessons about the Philippine-American War or the Bataan Death March, we had lessons about the Spanish Inquisition or the French Revolution. Given that the Philippines was an American colony for almost 50 years, it was baffling that nothing Filipino-related was ever mentioned in any part of the curriculum.

We had only one Filipino teacher in our entire school, an American-born Pinay in her late twenties. Ironically, she taught my world history class. The standardized curriculum she used primarily focused on what were considered the most important events in world history: the history of Europe. Even though she identified as Filipino-American, she couldn’t devote even one day's lesson to the history of the Philippines. The message we got was that our parents’ homeland was not important enough for us to study — at least not during school hours.

At home, my immigrant parents didn't talk much about being Filipino. Both my parents were the first in their families to emigrate (my mom in 1965, my dad in 1969), in search of opportunities for their then-hypothetical children. They said goodbye to their parents, siblings, and friends, not knowing if they would ever see them again. They made a new life in California with the help of a few older relatives (who arrived decades prior and worked as farmworkers and laborers) and each other.

When I was a teenager, my parents told me about the hardships they experienced when they first arrived in the U.S. While they were promised opportunities and open arms, they were actually greeted by racism and ignorance. My mom, a nurse, regularly encountered World War II military veteran patients who said horrific things to her because they assumed she was Japanese. They called her a “Jap” and an “Oriental.” Patients refused my mother’s care because they thought she was “the enemy.” When she’d say she was Filipino, the veterans usually relaxed, since they believed Filipinos were American allies — and sometimes even the “little brown brothers” of the U.S.

My dad, on the other hand, tried not to acknowledge racism at all. He believed no one should have the right to treat him as inferior or as a second-class citizen because he had a college education. Whenever someone assumed he didn’t speak English well, my dad would reply with his version of a perfect American accent, having learned English as a child in the Philippines.

As a teenager, my experiences were varied. Some saw me and my peers as “model minorities” — ambitious children of hardworking Asian parents who knew the importance of education. I knew many non-Filipino adults who enjoyed talking to my parents, because they spoke English fluently. However, many of my classmates made fun of my parents — thankfully, only to me — because of their heavy accents.

Others considered me a “troublemaker.” I’ve been pulled over or harassed by police officers for no reason. Security or store clerks regularly followed my friends and me around in stores or malls. At school, a few teachers and counselors stereotyped the Filipino students as gangsters and did not encourage us to our full potential. I remember a high school counselor telling me I shouldn’t take certain honors classes because he didn’t think I'd do well in them. He later insisted I should go to a community college.

It wasn't until I went to college at University of California at Irvine that I started to really develop my Filipino-American identity. My campus was 60% Asian-American and about one out of every eight students on my campus were Filipino. I joined — and later became president of — Kababayan, the Filipino-American student organization, 600 members strong. I danced the tinikling and singkil in our Pilipino Cultural Nights, and we sang the Philippine National Anthem at weekly meetings. And I finally read Rizal and Hagedorn and learned about the Bataan Death March.

In my Filipino-American Studies class, I learned that Filipino farmworkers like Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz led the Delano Grape Strikes of 1965, one of the greatest labor movements in U.S. history. In my Asian-American Psychology class, I learned about the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which put an end to immigration quotas and allowed for the influx of Asian immigrants like my parents to migrate to the U.S.

I was in college when I learned that October was Filipino-American History Month (FAHM). FAHM was originally founded by Fred and Dorothy Cordova and the Filipino American National Historical Society in 1988, and October was chosen to commemorate the first Filipinos who landed in the Americas: a small group of Filipino seafarers and servants who jumped ship en route to Spain. They landed in what is now known as Morro Bay in California in October 1587, decades before the Pilgrims would land on Plymouth Rock.

For the next 20 years, many states, like California and Michigan, and cities, like New York and Chicago, recognized the month with official proclamations. In 2009, the U.S. Congress and House of Representatives passed resolutions that officially recognized the month. And this past year, the White House hosted its very first FAHM celebration, as President Obama acknowledged that Filipino-Americans have "helped expand our Nation's promise throughout every aspect of our society."

I celebrated FAHM every year in college, so I was disheartened when I enrolled at Michigan State University to pursue my master's degree and discovered that no one celebrated the month. I became the adviser to the small, but growing, Filipino-American student organization there, and it was through these students I learned even more about my Filipino-American identity.

None of these students had similar experiences to mine. They were usually the only Filipino kid in their high schools (and sometimes the only one in their respective towns). By meeting them, I began to appreciate all the resources I had. It was then when I also realized I wanted to become a professor, so I could educate others about Filipino-Americans and other marginalized groups. I wanted to encourage young people to understand and get in touch with their own cultural heritages and identities. Because I'd never had any Filipino-American professors, I wanted to become one.

When I was accepted into a doctoral program in counseling psychology at Columbia University, I made it a point to study everything related to multicultural issues in psychology. I focused on how Filipino-American culture and identity affect people’s mental health. There was little research on the topic, so I wanted to be the person to change that. While there were books on black psychology, Latino psychology, and Asian-American psychology, I wanted to write the first book on Filipino-American psychology (and I later did).

Ten years later, I've learned a lot about being Filipino-American. I’ve discovered that Filipinos are the second-largest Asian-American group (just after Chinese-Americans) and are the second-largest immigrant population (just after Mexican-Americans). I’ve also learned about the issues affecting our community, like the fact that American-born Filipinos don’t go to college or graduate school as much as their immigrant counterparts, or that Filipinos tend to have higher rates of depression than other Asian-Americans and the general population, yet are less likely to seek mental health treatment.

Perhaps Filipino-Americans don’t attend college or graduate school because they are stereotyped or discouraged by their teachers and counselors, paralleling what my friends and I experienced in high school. Perhaps Filipino-Americans have higher levels of depression and seek mental health help less often because, much like how my parents taught me how to deal with discrimination, we try to not talk about our hardships or negative life experiences.

I’ve also learned that, because the Philippines has a unique colonial history, it's hard for people to place us racially. We Filipinos have brown skin like other Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders; some are even misidentified as black. Because of Spanish colonization, we tend to have Spanish last names and majority of us are (or at least were raised) Catholic, so we're sometimes mistaken for Latinos. The U.S. also colonized the Philippines for almost 50 years, so most Filipinos, including those in the Philippines, are fluent in English.

Perhaps this is why Filipino-Americans experience so many different types of microaggressions. In my research, I’ve found that Filipino-Americans deal with microaggressions similar to those experienced by other Asian-American groups, like being stereotyped as exotic, a “model minority,” or a perpetual foreigner. However, Filipino-Americans also encounter microaggressions often encountered by African-Americans and Latinos, like being assumed to be dangerous or intellectually inferior.

I’ve also studied how concepts like colonial mentality and ethnic identity affect mental health. Colonial mentality is the idea that people from colonized places tend to view values and standards of beauty of the colonizer as good, while viewing those of the indigenous as being bad. For instance, Filipinos tend to view those with light skin as more beautiful or attractive, and those who speak English without Filipino accents as smarter or more sophisticated. Perhaps this is the reason why so many Filipino-Americans, including me, were never taught by our parents to speak their native language.

In retrospect, the one thing of which I am constantly reminded is that Filipino-Americans are a resilient people. Throughout our history in both the Philippines and the U.S., we have overcome these instances of tyranny, brutality, and inequality. We have fought for independence in the Philippines and marched for civil rights in the U.S. We have organized movements, formed coalitions with allies, and persevered against systemic discrimination, ignorance, and oppression.

We have comforted each other in times of despair and have supported the trailblazers who have represented us well. We have moved forward and persevered, usually with a smile, and always holding the hands of future generations behind us.


Kevin Nadal, Ph.D. is a professor at the City University of New York, the Executive Director of CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies, the President of the Asian American Psychological Association, and a National Trustee of the Filipino American National Historical Society.

At home, my immigrant parents didn't talk much about being Filipino.
Because I'd never had any Filipino-American professors, I wanted to become one.
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