Speaker talks about Filipino American identity


Joe Forrestdavis

CRC presented the final part of the Filipinx American History Month Speaker Series with keynote speaker Dr. Anthony Christian Ocampo on Oct. 27. Ocampo spoke about the background of race for Filipino Americans.

Cosumnes River College held an online event on Thursday featuring a keynote speaker who presented about “how Filipino Americans break the rules of race.”
The event was part of the Filipinx American History Month speaker series. Dr. Anthony Christian Ocampo, a sociology professor at California Polytechnic State University, spoke about the research he found when asking Filipino Americans how they identify themselves with their racial background.
“When it came to Asian-American identity, you asked the question ‘what is your racial background,’ other Asian groups: Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans, 95 folks out of a hundred, they picked Asian as their racial background. When it came to Filipinos, it was pretty eye-opening that less than half of Filipinos chose Asian,” Ocampo said.
Ocampo said he wanted to understand why Filipinos felt this distance from Asian Americans.
A factor Ocampo found when asking Filipinos about their background was the effect of colonialism. Even with it occurring hundreds of years ago, it has had a large impact on how Filipinos see their identity, Ocampo said.
“There was this one young woman that I interviewed, in the book her name is Leah…when I asked Leah ‘which group do you feel Filipinos are closest to,’ she said ‘Latinos’ and she elaborated, ‘well it’s hard to think of Filipinos as Asians because we were colonized by Spain for over 300 years and in that way we are more like Latinos,’” Ocampo said.
To this day, it’s a tough question for Filipinos to say what race they are, Ocampo said.
“Race is complicated and especially for a group like Filipinos,” Ocampo said. “What was often the case when I interviewed folks is that there was a lot of stress when it came to having to figure out where Filipinos fit, what box to check.”
CRC Project Director Raul Pasamonte helped put together the speaker series to bring Ocampo and others to present.
“To have him come in and present not only his research, but present his personal stories, I think that’s what made the talk even more great for our individuals and for everyone a part of the Zoom meeting,” Pasamonte said.
Pasamonte said that he hopes the series was an opportunity for students to learn more about different cultures.
“I was hoping to be able to add to the knowledge base of Filipino Americans to the CRC community,” Pasamonte said. “Also continue that love of Filipino history that we celebrated, but also other histories that we can celebrate.”