Are Filipinos Asian?
So, in keeping with my mission to further settle this matter once and for all, I thought I would do a follow-up article to a previous post I wrote entitled, Yes, Filipinos Are Asian!
Hopefully, we can convince those naysayers who claim that Filipinos are not Asian, and also persuade those Filipinos who are either unsure, think they are something else like Pacific Islander, or simply want to distance themselves from the Asian classification altogether.
Articles in the Series
The Official Geographical Definition
Note: Be sure to check out part two of this article!
Geographically speaking, The Philippines is, in fact, located in Southeast Asia. It is just as far from the Asian continent as Japan, only further south.
Taiwan and Hong Kong are just a few hundred miles to the north and northwest, and even closer still is Malaysia and Indonesia to the south and southwest, respectively.
So regionally, geographically and culturally, The Philippines falls within the boundaries of the Asian continent, and so it is correct for Filipinos to be classified as Asian, specifically Southeast Asian.
Filipinos Are Asian on a Nationalistic Level
The Philippines is a country in Asia with a similar history to Singapore:
- They both have had ties to European colonization.
- They both have been melting pots of various ethnicities (i.e Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, etc.)
- They both are located in Southeast Asia.
That said, if you are Filipino or Singaporean, then you are referring to yourself on a “nationalistic” level. Though ethnically, you may be Indian, Malaysian, Chinese, or any number of different ethnicities. But nationally you would be considered Filipino or Singaporean.
There is no doubt that Singapore is considered an Asian country, and that Singaporeans are considered Asians. Should there be any doubt then that Filipinos too are Asians?
Asian Americans are Americans of Asian ancestry. They include sub-ethnic groups such as Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, Indian Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Korean Americans, Japanese Americans, Cambodian Americans, Laotian Americans and others whose national origin is from the Asian continent.
Genetic Studies Show That Filipinos are Asian
Some interesting genetic studies have shown that Filipino origins can directly be linked to the Ami tribe of Taiwan, considered the closest genetic relative. Overall, genetic studies have connected Filipinos to Chinese, Korean, and Indonesian ethnic groups, all originating from Asia.
Some genetic studies, based upon very small samples of the population, have begun to provide clues to the origins of Filipino people. Much remains to be learned by larger studies of valid statistical significance about the ancestry of the various Austronesian Philippine ethnic groups.
A Stanford University study conducted during 2001 revealed that Y-chromosome Haplogroup O3-M122 (labeled as “Haplogroup L” in this study) predominates among Filipino males. This particular haplogroup is also predominant among Chinese and Korean males. That finding is consistent with the theory that people migrated from China south into the Philippines.
Another haplogroup, Haplogroup O1a-M119 (labeled as “Haplogroup H” in this study), is also found among Filipinos. The rates of Haplogroup O1a are highest among the Taiwanese Aborigines. Overall, the genetic frequencies found among Filipinos points to the Ami tribe of Taiwan as their nearest genetic relative.
A 2002 China Medical University study indicated that certain Filipinos shared a particular gene marker that is also found among Taiwanese aborigines and Indonesians.
A 2003 University of the Philippines study based on 50 participants each from the islands of Luzon and Cebu provided some insight into the various places of origin of early Filipinos. Some rare genetic markers were found which are shared by people from parts of Asia.
Why Filipinos Shouldn’t Be Called Pacific Islanders
First, let’s look at Wikipedia.org’s definition of a true Pacific Islander:
Pacific Islander… is a geographic term used in several places, such as New Zealand and the United States, to describe the inhabitants of any of the three major sub-regions of Oceania… Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia.
Wikipedia goes on to specifically explain that The Philippines is considered a part of Asia, and is NOT considered part of Oceania, and Filipinos aren’t recognized to be Pacific Islanders:
Inhabitants of Russia’s Kuril Islands, Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, and the Taiwanese, Japanese, Philippine, and Indonesian islands, although technically bordering edges of the Pacific Ocean, do not fall under the definition of “Pacific Islanders” because such islands are not actually located within the Pacific or therefore any of the three regions of Oceania (Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia)
Because of the above definition of “Pacific Islander”, and because The Philippines is excluded (along with other Asian countries such as Taiwan and Japan) from the regions of Oceania, then the above information leads us to conclude that Filipinos simply are not Pacific Islanders.
How Application Forms Caused Part of the Confusion
Many Filipinos in the United States may have filled out college or job applications and had come across the part where you had to check your ethnicity. Many times, “Filipino” was listed separately from Asian, leading people to assume that the two groups are separate.
Why was this? And what was the reasoning behind this? My theory, simply put:
- The Philippines was once a colony of the United States.
- The English language (in addition to the Pilipino langague) is an official language of The Philippines.
- Filipinos have the uniqueness of being under American influence throughout most of the 20th century.
- Filipinos were one of the largest ethnic groups of Asia immigrating into the U.S. during the 20th century.
Is there any wonder that part of the confusion may have originated from The Philippines being a former colony of The United States? And with a need to classify Filipinos apart from other Asian groups, application forms and the like were tailored so that various government, corporate and private organizations could further differentiate certain ethnic groups from one another for statistical purposes.
The Whole APA Fiasco
On the other hand, to add to the confusion, certain authoritative entities had lumped both Asians and Pacific Islanders into one ethnic group for simplicity’s sake… namely APA, or Asia Pacific Americans. Though it may have been innocently done and with good reason, group Asians and Pacific Islanders together into one group has proven detrimental to the identity of Filipinos everywhere.
Asian-Pacific American is a term that was used in the United States to include both Asian Americans and Americans of Pacific Islander American due to its official use as a race on the United States Census between the years 1990 and 2000. Since 2000 the United States Census Bureau has split these two groups apart because the majority of the people included in the term considered themselves to be two separate groups when questioned by the anthropologists who designed the racial definitions for the 2000 US Census. Now, Asian American and Pacific Islanders are two separate races on the US Census 2000, so the term Asian-Pacific American has decreased in use.
I just wanted to conclude with specific definitions from Wikipedia.org that show differences between Asian and Pacific Islander:
The definitions and differences between Asian and Pacific Islanders are also clearly defined:
Asian. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. Thus it includes “Asian Indian,” “Chinese,” “Filipino,” “Korean,” “Japanese,” “Vietnamese,” and “Other Asian.”
Subscribe: Get updates by email and stay connected.A native or inhabitant of any of the Polynesian, Micronesian, or Melanesian islands of Oceania. Some examples of the ethnic groups that would be considered Pacific Islanders are the indigenous peoples of Hawaii, the Marianas, Samoans, Guamanian, Chamoru , Tahitians, Mariana Islander, and Chuukese.
And I hope this finally settles the controversy and answers the questions… people have a right to be proud of their cultural heritage, but it’s important to know exactly what that cultural heritage is, and just as important to convey the truth. Then hopefully, the truth will speak for itself.
Another great read concerning this subject can be found here.
Continue on to Part 2.