Social Question

pleiades's avatar

Am I Filipino-American? American-Filipino? Or half and half?

Asked by pleiades (6566points) April 9th, 2014

Ok so if a Filipino family had a child here in the USA that child would be what? Filipino-American? American? Or what? What do they fill out on the ethnicity slip that is handed when signing up for just about anything.

Also as it pertains to me personally, I have a an American father who at the time was in the Navy and married my mom who is from the Philippines and native there. She became a citizen etc etc I was born there in the Philippines and spent only one year there before coming here to San Diego. So… What am I on the checklist? White? Filipino? Other? Asian American?

In other words, how do I satisfy “them” whoever is taking in the data for entry. Also, as it pertains to my artist profile, how do I address this? Do I tell them Filipino-American? Is this equal to the first example of the Filipino-American kid born to two Filipino parents but born on U.S. soil?

See what I’m getting at here you pure breds! :P

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17 Answers

muppetish's avatar

I think it is entirely up to the individual. Hyphenated identities can be an issue of controversy for some people. It was really interested to read about and study in my American Literature courses!

My father’s grandfather moved here from Mexico. My father grew up in California. My mother was born in Ohio and raised in California. Her great-great-grandparents were from various European countries. I was born in California. I knew nothing outside being Californian (specifically, Southern Californian). There was nothing inherently European or Mexican about my experiences growing up. So I checked off “Other” or “Decline to State” on surveys. I didn’t feel like any one thing in particular.

A close friend of mine, however, felt much closer to her Vietnamese heritage than her French colonial background. As a result, she was able to check off “Vietnamese” on surveys without hesitation. But when you throw American into the mix, it becomes confusing again. What makes one American? When, if ever, does one stop being Vietnamese? Is that identity based on traditions? Appearance? Language? Proximity?

I have always viewed this particular labeling as a subjective portion of our identity that can change over time. As a result, to respond to your last question: why would you want to satisfy them at all? What would the label communicate to you, and how would it communicate to them?

JLeslie's avatar

It’s up to you. If you identify as Filipino you can check Asian if that is available, or check Other and fill in what you consider yourself to be. Or, fill in Hispanic if you identify with that more. If you identify as caucasian there are no nationality or race police who will be upset. If you feel Filipino then you are Filipino-American. In America we usually put America after the hyphen if you are currently an American citizen. The only time I seeif flip around is with religious affiliations. For instance I see and hear both Jewish American and American Jew, but I never hear American-Italian for American citizens whose family came from Italy.

I almost never hear people actually say they are Filipino-American or name a nationality-American in casual conversation, nor do I see it worded that way on forms. If you are in America and someone asks where you are from, I would think you would just explain your mom is from the Philipines and your dad is American.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

If you’re born in the USA you are an American.

You can choose the Filipino check boxes if you like,
and those who see you may immediately be thinking Philippines,
But rest assured that you are an American.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dan_Lyons I don’t think there was ever any question that he is American.

Kropotkin's avatar


Yeah. Not helpful.

I hate those silly ethnicity questions on forms.

zenvelo's avatar

You get to choose whatever you like. Racially, you get to choose between whatever your dad is (I take it from what you wrote he is white?) or you can put Asian. Up to you.

Filipino? American? Hyphenate? Hapa? Multicultural? Multiracial? You get to choose, and no one can take it away from you.

JLeslie's avatar

Why did I think Mexican? Somehow I read the first answer and mixed everything up. Forget the Mexican part.

Too bad, Hispanic can help in some situations, although less and less.

Coloma's avatar

If you were born in America, you are an American. The rest is just ethnicity.
My daughters ex boyfriend of 4 years was half Filipino, if you wish to split ethnic hairs.
Filipino mother, caucasian father.

Who cares?
He did make a mean Lumpia….Mark, I miss you! lol

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma The OP was not born in America. It doesn’t matter anyway. If someone is a citizen of America they are an American. They don’t have to have been born here. People can be 3rd, 4th, 10th generation American and still identify with their family’s ancestry.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie True…my oversight.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I spent years overseas working with parents and kids of mixed ethnic backgrounds. Rather than use the term “half” we all used “doubles” since the kids often spoke 2 languages, had twice the cultural experiences, often lived in two countries, etc. It was just a different way of looking at it.

Which box to check? Whichever gives you the best advantage. Play the race card while it is still legal. .

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy That’s what I was thinking when I said too bad not Hispanic—race card. I don’t think being Asian helps with anything. I remember when I was going to school there was a situation where someone Asian wanted the “minority” requirement for the Engineering school. I guess his GPA was a little below the regular requirements. The school was saying Asians don’t qualify. I don’t know what happened in the end.

I like the double idea. It’s true double. I use the words bicultural or multicultural. I think by the second generation maybe that label begins to fade because with each generation people get Americanized.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@JLeslie We actually used the term in the foreign language. It was short and sweet – like saying “2 by” when you are buying wood 2×4, or 2×6 at the lumber yard.
Dual culture was a powerful tool in the owner’s asset list.

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy I see. Cute. As I think about it more it depends on who is talking and what the background it to how it is worded maybe? If someone is white in America, they might say they are or their family is half British half German and probably not say they are bicultural. I guess we perceive those cultures as not different enough at this point.

pleiades's avatar

@zenvelo Ah yes I didn’t state he is White or is Jewish more formal? Haha (Jewish) as a race/group is a whole different argument in itself!

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JLeslie's avatar

Filipino American makes perfect sense. That’s how we write it in America. Italian American, Jewish American, Irish American, Japanese American. and on and on.

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