Self-hating Filipinos are cliche. They come a dime a dozen. There’s so many of them out there it’s almost comical.
I use to be a self-hating Filipino. I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know our history, and I didn’t think our culture had any significance. I never heard about Filipinos in the media. We never learned about Filipino history in school. Outside of my mom and the handful of Filipino families in Lakewood, I was for the most part deprived from being immersed in our culture. On a scale from 1 to Sammy Sosa, I was probably a solid six in terms of self-hatred. With no representation and no access to any information about Filipino history, a void formed in my mind. I figured this absence of understanding was what Filipino culture was about.
It wasn’t until I took classes in college when I discovered absolutely how beautiful our culture is. I felt like an archeologist uncovering artifacts from a time before. In my own way I figured out what it meant to be Filipino. The more I learned about us, the more cultural pride I felt. I was connected to something larger than myself. There is a thread that ties all Filipinos together in a rich history full of beauty and tragedy. Around this same time, I plunged head first into the Filipino American community in Seattle. For the first time I didn’t feel like I was an outsider that was relegated to the cultural periphery. I knew who I was and where I came from and that made all of the difference. I discovered the knowledge of myself; the self-hatred began to evaporate.
Now self-hating Filipinos serve as reminders to me of a past life. When I see them lost in their assimilated shells, uninterested in anything related to our culture, I can’t help but remember my own time in that cultural purgatory. Some self-hating Filipinos will go so far as to bleach their skin, dye their hair blonde, and don blue eye contacts. Other self-hating Filipinos will simply exist in a vacuum; they’ve succumbed to the notion that they are part of culture that has no significance and as result will associate closer with another culture instead.
I hold onto the hope that one day they’ll awaken from this slumber and remember just how beautiful and special they are.