From indio to Filipino
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - July 29, 2018 - 12:00am

One of the greatest homage ever made was when Ninoy Aquino proclaimed to the world: “The Filipino is worth dying for.” His martyrdom proved that he was sincere. But we can also sincerely ask ourselves, who is this Filipino worth dying for? Surely it cannot be those congressmen whose recent antics and machinations have been an international embarrassment. Neither can it be the ruling economic and political elite that have ruled this country for generations. Nor can it be the rich who have made money in this country; but, have spent it abroad rather than investing in their own country. Nor is it the countless politicians who parrot the same promises election after election.

In searching for this Filipino, it is important to look back at history and remember that before the 1880s, the term “Filipino” actually referred to the people of Spanish parentage born in the Philippines. The Malayan, native born inhabitants of the Philippine islands were called “indio” or “indigenta.” This class or group occupied the lowest level in a highly stratified class society. 

At the highest level were the “peninsular” who were of Spanish parentage and born in Spain. Then came the Filipino; next the mestizo, mixed Spanish and native parentage; then the mestizo chino or mestizo de sangley; then the chino or sangley. Considered as outsiders were the moro or Muslim;  the isolated indigenous tribes in the mountains; and roving bands of aetas.

It should be noted that the natives of these islands belonged to brown skinned peoples who arrived in Southeast Asia six millennia ago and through migrations spread as far west as Madagascar and as far east as Polynesia. They populated what are known as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. According to historian Luis Francia: “ Human settlements known as barangays, after the outriggered boats, were thus firmly in place in the Philippines well before the Spanish arrived, with a number of larger barangays trading with foreign ships that plied Southeast Asian waters.” The pre-Spanish colonial natives had all the characteristics of a civilization. 

Unlike neighboring nations like China, Vietnam and Siam, the very nature of the archipelago, with more water than land, meant the existence of numerous tribal groups with a few dominant ones – Tagalogs, Kapampangans, Ilocanos, Bikolanos, Cebuanos, Ilonggos, Warays, and the Mindanao tribes. The term indios was used to refer collectively to the different tribes. 

It was only in the late 1880s and 1890s that the term Filipino began to change to refer to “ people from the Philippines.” Historians believe that this sense of being “ Filipino” emerged when the “peninsular” Spaniard failed to distinguish between the mestizo and the indio. A group of young men who went to Europe to study also discovered that the racial and class distinctions that separated them in the colony became less meaningful when they found themselves collectively alone across the oceans. In Europe and elsewhere around the world, they started to refer to one another as being one people. While in Madrid, Jose Rizal wrote to a friend. “...we call ourselves simply Filipinos.”

This is so reminiscent of the ten million Filipinos who live abroad and continue to somehow retain their Filipino identity. A generation ago when the diaspora started, it was said that after one generation, the overseas Filipino would lose all sense of their national identity. It has not happened and Filipino overseas communities are thriving. 

The ruling class collaborated with the Spanish rulers and became more Hispanized. They acquired Spanish education, absorbed Castilian culture and behaved like their colonial masters. They became more and more different and isolated from their countrymen. The Americans ruled in the same way by using the ruling class. Instead of Spanish, they used English and Americanized the ruling elite. However, the availability of education became a passport to middle class status and in rare cases to become part of the elite. The burgeoning middle class was supposed to become the principal agent of change. Unfortunately, the middle class in the Philippines remains an insignificant minority as the main bulk of its members – ten million – have sought refuge in foreign countries leaving the Philippines with a ruling elite, a small middle class and a vast underclass. 

Through all these centuries, the indio and now the Filipino, has shown time and again that they are capable of heroism and love of nation. There were an estimated 300 revolutions against the Spanish invaders and another war for independence against the Americans. The guerrilla movement against the Japanese invaders were primarily grassroots movements. This is a people that have rallied to democracy at critical junctures in its history through leaders like Ramon Magsaysay and People Power Movements. The economic and professional success of overseas Filipinos have shown their talents and professionalism when given the right opportunities.

Who is the Filipino or Filipina? I think of Rosario who is in her 40s, lives in Cavite and works as a clerk in Makati. In order to get to her office on time at 8 a m, she has to leave the house at 5 am because it takes more than two hours to commute.  She gets home at around 8 pm.  each day after struggling through long commuter lines, several transport transfers and then does household chores when she goes home. When it rains, her commuting time is longer. 

She manages to send her three children to school and dreams of sending each one to college. Family obligations are important; and, she sends money to her relatives in the province every time someone is sick or needs enrolment funds. She goes to mass weekly and has retained deep abiding faith in God. She never cheats and can be trusted to keep the accounting books faithfully. Rosario is not her real name; but, she is a real person. She is a Filipina worth dying for. 

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on August 4 & 18, September 1 & 15 (1:30 pm-3 pm; stand-alone sessions) at Fully Booked BGC. For details and registration contact 0945-2273216 or writethingsph@gmail.com.

*      *      *

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

From indio to Filipino

 

Breakthrough  Elfren S. Cruz

 

One of the greatest homage ever made was when Ninoy Aquino proclaimed to the world: “The Filipino is worth dying for.” His martyrdom proved that he was sincere. But we can also sincerely ask ourselves, who is this Filipino worth dying for? Surely it cannot be those congressmen whose recent antics and machinations have been an international embarrassment. Neither can it be the ruling economic and political elite that have ruled this country for generations. Nor can it be the rich who have made money in this country; but, have spent it abroad rather than investing in their own country. Nor is it the countless politicians who parrot the same promises election after election.

In searching for this Filipino, it is important to look back at history and remember that before the 1880s, the term “Filipino” actually referred to the people of Spanish parentage born in the Philippines. The Malayan, native born inhabitants of the Philippine islands were called “indio” or “indigenta.” This class or group occupied the lowest level in a highly stratified class society. 

At the highest level were the “peninsular” who were of Spanish parentage and born in Spain. Then came the Filipino; next the mestizo, mixed Spanish and native parentage; then the mestizo chino or mestizo de sangley; then the chino or sangley. Considered as outsiders were the moro or Muslim;  the isolated indigenous tribes in the mountains; and roving bands of aetas.

It should be noted that the natives of these islands belonged to brown skinned peoples who arrived in Southeast Asia six millennia ago and through migrations spread as far west as Madagascar and as far east as Polynesia. They populated what are known as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. According to historian Luis Francia: “ Human settlements known as barangays, after the outriggered boats, were thus firmly in place in the Philippines well before the Spanish arrived, with a number of larger barangays trading with foreign ships that plied Southeast Asian waters.” The pre-Spanish colonial natives had all the characteristics of a civilization. 

Unlike neighboring nations like China, Vietnam and Siam, the very nature of the archipelago, with more water than land, meant the existence of numerous tribal groups with a few dominant ones – Tagalogs, Kapampangans, Ilocanos, Bikolanos, Cebuanos, Ilonggos, Warays, and the Mindanao tribes. The term indios was used to refer collectively to the different tribes. 

It was only in the late 1880s and 1890s that the term Filipino began to change to refer to “ people from the Philippines.” Historians believe that this sense of being “ Filipino” emerged when the “peninsular” Spaniard failed to distinguish between the mestizo and the indio. A group of young men who went to Europe to study also discovered that the racial and class distinctions that separated them in the colony became less meaningful when they found themselves collectively alone across the oceans. In Europe and elsewhere around the world, they started to refer to one another as being one people. While in Madrid, Jose Rizal wrote to a friend. “...we call ourselves simply Filipinos.”

This is so reminiscent of the ten million Filipinos who live abroad and continue to somehow retain their Filipino identity. A generation ago when the diaspora started, it was said that after one generation, the overseas Filipino would lose all sense of their national identity. It has not happened and Filipino overseas communities are thriving. 

The ruling class collaborated with the Spanish rulers and became more Hispanized. They acquired Spanish education, absorbed Castilian culture and behaved like their colonial masters. They became more and more different and isolated from their countrymen. The Americans ruled in the same way by using the ruling class. Instead of Spanish, they used English and Americanized the ruling elite. However, the availability of education became a passport to middle class status and in rare cases to become part of the elite. The burgeoning middle class was supposed to become the principal agent of change. Unfortunately, the middle class in the Philippines remains an insignificant minority as the main bulk of its members – ten million – have sought refuge in foreign countries leaving the Philippines with a ruling elite, a small middle class and a vast underclass. 

Through all these centuries, the indio and now the Filipino, has shown time and again that they are capable of heroism and love of nation. There were an estimated 300 revolutions against the Spanish invaders and another war for independence against the Americans. The guerrilla movement against the Japanese invaders were primarily grassroots movements. This is a people that have rallied to democracy at critical junctures in its history through leaders like Ramon Magsaysay and People Power Movements. The economic and professional success of overseas Filipinos have shown their talents and professionalism when given the right opportunities.

Who is the Filipino or Filipina? I think of Rosario who is in her 40s, lives in Cavite and works as a clerk in Makati. In order to get to her office on time at 8 a m, she has to leave the house at 5 am because it takes more than two hours to commute.  She gets home at around 8 pm.  each day after struggling through long commuter lines, several transport transfers and then does household chores when she goes home. When it rains, her commuting time is longer. 

She manages to send her three children to school and dreams of sending each one to college. Family obligations are important; and, she sends money to her relatives in the province every time someone is sick or needs enrolment funds. She goes to mass weekly and has retained deep abiding faith in God. She never cheats and can be trusted to keep the accounting books faithfully. Rosario is not her real name; but, she is a real person. She is a Filipina worth dying for. 

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on August 4 & 18, September 1 & 15 (1:30 pm-3 pm; stand-alone sessions) at Fully Booked BGC. For details and registration contact 0945-2273216 or writethingsph@gmail.com.

*      *      *

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

NINOY AQUINO PHILIPPINE ISLANDS
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Latest
Recommended
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with