Are Filipinos, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander ? Really .



Last week , a Filipino co-worker asked me if I had ever encountered an official California document where Filipinos have to choose, identify and check  their  ethnicity off  the following list:  Asian,  Pacific Islander,  Filipino, Other. I said yes, I had, when I applied for a driver’s license, so Dennis, what’s wrong with it ? ” Look, Ren,  aren’t we Asian ? ” (  By the way, Dennis is half Italian-American, half Filipino but identifies himself as Filipino. He was also born in the Philippines. )


Anyway, I was confused.  I didn’t know what to make of it. I  did some research about this issue, and what I learned surprised me.  I do know about the Pacific Islander thing, but  it’s never been an issue to me. But, why are Filipinos in a separate group ?  Filipinos  are Asians.  To think otherwise is just so ignorant and stupid.  Just look at the map.



Here’s something that I found on YouTube.  Warning ! This video is highly inaccurate (  nevertheless , very  informative ) because the person on the video delves more on Chinese heritage rather than the more accurate   Indonesian -Malays who are actually the original settlers of the country.  Heck, we cannot even  tell a Malaysian, Indonesian, and Filipino  apart…  and yes, the Filipino language is very similar to Malaysian and Indonesian languages.  Ex: Thank you is Salamat in Filipino and Selamat in Indonesian.  ( Although about 40% of Filipino language is Spanish or has Spanish roots.  Filipinos even tell time in Spanish .) Filipino historians say Filipinos are of   Malay-Indo- Polynesian race.  It’s true there was an extensive trading with the Chinese, and I’m sure there were intermixing of  genes  at one point. That’s a given. Heck,  according to 23andMe ancestry, a part of my DNA belongs to Chinese Haplo-group.




Is it  because of Filipino culture and its shared heritage , history and culture with Mexico ?    Heck, both the  Philippines and Mexico even call their money Pesos.  In fact, at one point in Mexican and Philippine history,  the Philippines was considered a province of Mexico.  I was surprised  to learn that  the Filipino words for mother and father , Nanay  and Tatay , tiangue/ palengke ( markets )  and which I’m sure all Filipinos consider pure  unadulterated Filipino words,  are actually  Nathual in origin , an ancient Mexican language.

Anyway, I think I should write more about Filipino identity . There are more than 4 million Filipinos in the US, and this number does not even include half-Filipinos who  identify their ethnicity as Filipino, like my co-worker Dennis,  and Bruno Mars… or the wrestler Batista. Batista’s arm is tattoed with Philippine map, ha ha. That number is  more than the population of Koreans, Vietnamese, and Japanese combined .   Filipinos are not invisible here in the US,  neither here nor there. Not all Asians look like Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Vietnamese, you know .  Look  at Indians…they  are Asians, too.


Okay, this is all for now from a pissed off Asian. Bye and peace.



35 responses to this post.

  1. I was in the US Navy In ’76 with Filipinos and honored to to serve with supporters of the free world 🇺🇸 🇵🇭 I will never forget my buddies 😢 ‘Cats ass rats ass dirty old squawt We were US servicemen Who the #@&7 are them❓ (sorry for the refrained sailor language 😉 )


    • At one point, there were more Filipinos in the US Navy than Filipinos in Philippine Navy. Ha ha… And , correct me if I;m wrong , Filipinos are the only non-Americans who can join the US Navy.


      • I think a citizen from any country with reciprocity to the US 🇺🇸 can join the the armed forces. Arabs have been in the US 🇺🇸 Air Forse for 30 yrs that I know of 😉


      • That was a bad deal long ago when Gen. MacArthur said he would return 😢


        • Well, the US were all over fighting it out …. and the truth is, it was the American government’s priority to liberate Europe first before those small group of islands in the Pacific, even if they were America’s territory. Sad.


  2. Great rant. Too much importance is put on labels.


  3. I guess it’s because of the different cultures that we were born to that make Filipinos truly unique – Spanish, American etc. but we are Asians, right Ren?


    • I have a suspicion those who say Filipinos aren’t Asians are haters. These are Asians living in the US. I just read an article about this on San Francisco Chronicle.


  4. As a student of history (I started out as a History major in University), I enjoyed all the history mentioned in this excellently written blog post.

    I did not know that the Philippines was once considered a province of Mexico.

    Or that a few Aztec Nahuatl words had entered the Filipino language.

    It’s been my experience that government documents often show a vast ignorance of history.

    What you say about California government documents seem to confirm this.

    I find it frightening that government bureaucratic documents seem to be so concerned with a person’s racial/ethnic background.

    The same was true of the bureaucracy in Hitler’s Third Reich.


    • Re province of Mexico… Filipino historians are now revising the country’s history… at least the history textbooks. For example , for over a hundred years, the Philippines was ruled not directly from Spain, but via Mexico, until 1821 when Mexico got its independence from Spain. That was a significant part of history that was not in Philippine history books.

      I;m sure there’s nothing sinister about knowing a citizen’s ethnicity. I hope…. >_< +_+

      Hitler's Third Reich … ~_~


    • Nahuatl is Aztec ?? The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade started in late 1500’s , so I’m assuming there were Mexicans who could still speak the native language that sailed to the Philippines .

      Did you watch the video ? especially the linguistic similarity between a Filipino dialect ( Cebuano ) and Pacific Islander s ?


  5. I don’t know if this is true, but could “Filipino” being a separate category have something to do with the Philippines being a former colony/territory of the USA?


  6. For me this is a no-brainer – of course you’re Asian! I think you come across different stereotypes though. Your line about indians are Asian too made me smile. In the UK, we think of indians and Pakistanis as Asian first THEN think of Japanese, Filipinos, Indonesians etc!

    However, the term ‘Asian’ is a bit hopeless. If covers 60% of the planet, and cultures vastly different. From Russia (yes, considered geographically Asia) to India to Indonesia and right across Iraq and through to Turkey. There’s very little in common in religion, tongue, looks, dress or anything! 😂


  7. That is interesting. I thought Filipinos were Asian. 🤔


  8. I would not despair over this unfortunate action as many nationalities are being tracked wrongly under our racist immigration policy of “you no who.”


    • I did a few readings , and I must say, it’s mostly the Filipinos’ fault. Living in the US made majority of Filipinos ambivalent towards their real identity. The older generation and first generation Filipino Americans were confused … they couldn’t relate to other Asians due to cultural differences ( could relate more to Latino countries because of religion, language, and shared history) . They were caught in between, hence, the separate category.. It’s weird.


  9. Thank you so much for the education, my lovely friend.


  10. People love to categorize don’t they!? There is some discussion for some places.

    Mauritius for example, is technically in Africa, but the majority of people there are of Indian ancestry.

    When a white South African guy moves to the USA, is he now an African-American?

    But I think most people would agree the Philippines is in Asia and Filipinos are asian.


  11. Just a guess but perhaps the goal was to distinguish Asians from geographic locations under heavy American influence like having major base stations as opposed to the Asian countries that don’t, or give the inhabitants of those places an opportunity to identify with their local region.


  12. Of all your anger, which is reasonable that you have it, I have learned everything related to your country in a more exact way than looking for it in Google. For example I had no idea of ​​the number of you in Usa. I found it a highly instructive article. Thank you for sharing your nationalist ideas and feelings.


  13. Hi Renxkyoko, German language also uses a couple of Aztek loan words, like Tomate (from tomatl) or Schokolade (from chocolātl). And do you know that the word “robot” (a loan word in many languages) has slavic origin (from a Czech novel by author Karel Capek). I would not draw too wide conclusions from single words. To which ethnicity someone belongs is very often the starting point of discrimination, be it a suppresive one or a positive one (“affirmative action”). All in all, mankind all origined from east-Afrika. Of course one can ask if the Philippines geographically belong to Asia or to Polynesia or maybe to Antarctica (Don’t laugh please, the highest mountain in Swizerland, peak Matterhorn, is a fragment of the African continental plate).
    One might also ask from where the ancestors of present Filipinos came (usually a mixture of several ways). But to classify someone as belonging to this or that usually leads to nothing good. I know that in some countries the passport mentions “ethnicity” (or even race) of its holder. I dont know what this should be good for. I hope that one day people wont ask this any more, and judge people more by their tallents and personality.
    best greetings, Michael


  14. Hello Ren. Long time no visit. Right now, I am staying here in Fiji, a Pacifican Island country or Melanesian to be precise. As much as Pacificans (Micronesians, Melanesians, and Polynesians) and Filipinos have traits in common, we Pinoys are truly South East Asians. Thais tell me I look Thai. I was mistaken as a Vietnamese once and someone guessed I am from Indonesia. Cambodians and Myanmar friends look Pinoy to me. Malaysian Bahasa and Filipino languages (Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Tagalog) have a lot in common. I know an Indonesian who learned Tagalog and Ilocano easily. I knew a Filipina who mastered Indonesian Bahasa though she is in jail. Facial features, filial piety, and language is what makes South East Asians alike. We have Hispanic traits simply because of Spanish colonization. Aside from China, Japan even has trading ties with Manila way back centuries ago and we even have Japanese village here more than a century ago in Manila (there is a Japanese statue in Paco in honor of Takayama Ukon). Some Japanese expressions have Filipino equivalent (e.g. kuuki no yomu is pakikiramdam or simply reading between the lines). Ethnic Formosans (now known as Taiwan) look like Pinoys from the Northern Luzon. Frequent travels and friendship with fellow Asians informed me these first-hand.


    • Kuya Allen ( can I call you Kuya, ha ha.) I have another reason why I made a post about this, I notice that a Asian character in a movie is always, always, always represented by a Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. I read an article about how Filipino wanna be Hollywood actors/actresses are told they are not Asian -looking enough. There are other jobs where “Asians ” are needed , but Filipinos don’t get them because they are told they need Asians who look like Chinese.

      Yes, I know about the people who inhabited Taiwan before the Chinese from the mainland came. They looked like Southeast Asians.


      • Sure! You can call me Kuya or just Allen. Fijians can even tell we are Filipinos by our looks because they love watching old Filipino dramas. They even borrowed the “palo-palo” in washing their clothes by just watching it done on TV. At least Ned, the best friend of Peter Parker, is a Filipino. John Wick had a Filipino enemy on the film. Martial Artists in US at least know about Kali, a Filipino martial art. Samuel Jackson loves Durian. I had an American classmates who loves eating Lumpia and adobo and knows we love basketball. If film makers don’t know about Filipinos being Asian, then they know nothing about South East Asia at all. We also have our own version of crazy rich Asian Filipinos here and most of them are in politics, show business, and real estate. Discrimination sometimes happen because of plain ignorance.


  15. Posted by Karen on July 5, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    I think we can call ourselves “South East Asian” to be specific because I believe there are Western Asia and South Asia as well. Regarding the idea of having a separate ethnicity in a document you are filling up is kind of weird. Could there be a huge crowd of Filipino community in the business area?


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