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A Kaleidoscope View - Quest for Filipino Identity in a Pluralistic Milieus

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A Kaleidoscope View: Quest for Filipino Identity in a Pluralistic Milieus

“My hair is dark so as my eyes, my skin is tanned, and my nose is misshaped.

I live in the Philippines; therefore, I am a Filipino.”

-A typical conception of being a Filipino

For about four decades of being a colonized island, the Philippines’ nationality, up until this day, is hardly defined. Our culture, traditions, and even our language are greatly influenced by our invaders. But I do believe that by understanding our roots we can understand more about who we really are. This paper aims to review the different documents that, in one way or another, gives rise to the concept of the colonial Filipino practices and traditions that will later be our identity; and provides us mental picture of the colonial structure of the Philippine society and how the “Indio Filipinos” uses arts, intellect and leadership skills as the threshold for transformation: from servitude to independency.

In the second chapter of Twenty Years in The Philippines (1854), the accounts of a French Doctor Gironiere (1854), provided mental picture of Manila and its two divisions: the suburb mercantile; and the military that is bounded by the sea on one side and upon another by extensive plain where the troops are being trained. It was then supported by a British Major G. J. Younghusband (1899) as he remarks the centuries in which Spain gradually strengthen her hold the islands. He states that the Spaniards colonization of the Island that been disturbed by Britain and by the 1762 it successfully descent on Manila City with the strength of 1,670 men under the command of Colonel Draper. However, in the year 1763, the authority on the city has been laid back to the hands of the Spaniards. This one event shows that The Philippine Island-and its waters really captivates the eyes of the powerful states, the reason why the Spaniards strengthen military forces and bound them by the sea coast.

In the year of British expedition in the Philippines, Younghusband, as he gets along with the natives, also remarks the centuries of Spaniard colonization: Spanish oppression, Spanish cruelty, and Spanish atrocity makes the native Philippine as an unquestionable downtrodden and ultra-subservient race. Which, I think is true. Up until this day, our country has been known as producers of foreign servants. It is evident to the increasing numbers of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). As we can all notice it became a native Filipino mentality to think of working for another country, given the conception that foreign states are always superior to us, as a goal to live by. However, as Younghusband compares the native Filipino servant to their British dependencies, his remarks about the mistreatment to the Filipino servants that every working hours are forced or otherwise threat-driven, makes me feel uncomfortable.

However, on the study of Borromeo-Buehler (1985), it states the native Filipinos can have rights of descent living, involvement in politics and access to education. But those can only happen in such circumstances such as: shortage of Spanish administrators; belongingness to a the clase media (middle class) or being an inquilino (land-owners) to have a descent living and became an illustrado (educated). The requirements make me rethink that living decently in the times of the Spaniards is not a right but a privilege. Buehler also concluded that the “privilege” to work as a town administrator or native official comes with harassment, discrimination, over-burdening and being poorly paid. Another thing that saddened me is the very fact that Spanish Catholicism enhanced class differences through the seat-placement in the church and in a very important sense the Church conveyed to its parishioners the idea that salvation was directly related to one's ability to pay for propitiatory masses, candles, indulgences, etc.

The account of Feodor Jagor (1875) gave us a glimpse of the early Filipino fashion sense, that are reflected to the caste that they belong. He descriptively enumerated the dress code of the Filipino settlers that are all depending on their castes. I love how Jagor questioned the blood of the beautiful Indian women. His statement is quite reflective to the famous beauty competition in which Philippines most commonly choose western-like featured women as the face of the Philippines to compete to international beauty pageants. We can notice that most of our country’s representative are half-blooded Filipino.

Another note-worthy in the accounts of Jagor is the Famous Filipino practice, “the national vice”, cock-fighting. He argued that as the only amusement for the natives, cock-fighting became an addictive activity, which, in time fed up the idleness and dissipation of the people. Jagor’s analysis that the vice affects the people’s ability to resist temptation of procuring money without working for it, is convincing to this day. It is evident



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