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Aug 08th
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice How Some Filipino Americans Behave Like Second-Class Citizens
How Some Filipino Americans Behave Like Second-Class Citizens PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Sunday, 14 October 2007 08:36

Part III of the Series "A Dose of Reality"

Then President Fidel V. Ramos addressed the Los Angeles City Council on May 7, 1995. The city officials invited their Filipino-American employees to attend the program at the City Council Chambers. The program started with the singing of the American national anthem. The emcee led the rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" and very few among the Filipinos present, including the Fil-Am city employees, joined the singing. Then as a courtesy to the visiting Filipino President, the Philippine national anthem was sung in Tagalog. All of the sudden, all the Filipinos, visitors and city employees alike, sang it with their stentorian voices and with all the passion of a very-nationalistic people. This writer was stunned. I told a fellow writer who was also covering the event that what just happened was one of the reasons many Caucasian and other Minority Americans frown on the practice of many Americans citizens of Filipino descent (ACFD) who still behave as if they were still in the Philippines. The ACFD city-hall employees should have sung louder the American national hymn because as American citizens, it is their official anthem.

This writer has attended so many Fil-Am functions at five-star hotels when the event organizers displayed the Filipino flag at the left side of the stage. And worse, there were instances when the American flag was not displayed at all. The practice in the United States is that the American banner should always be on the left side. All other flags, including the California Republic flag, are to be placed on the right of the American banner.

We do not sing the Philippine national anthem during the weekly forum of the Media Breakfast Club of Los Angeles (MBCLA) unless there are Filipino dignitaries or diplomats in attendance. Why? The MBCLA is an American entity and not a Filipino club.

Many of the first-generation ACFD are not trying their best to behave like American citizens. In fact, some of them bad mouth the United States and talk ill of the American neo-colonialism, imperialism and other isms. Some of these naturalized Americans even tell proudly that they chose American citizenship because of convenience.

I recall a young Filipino-American artist, Eliseo Silva, attending a meeting of the MBCLA in the late 1990s. Mr. Silva painted the Filipino mural in Beverly Blvd. in the Historic Filipinotown. Some of the Ilocano-American participants in the breakfast meeting disputed Mr. Silva’s inclusion of the Ferdinand Marcos’ head in the mural. Half of Mr. Marcos’ face was defaced, while he painted a triumphant Cory Aquino, with arms raised, exulting after the EDSA Revolution. Mr. Silva could not answer the objections of the Ilocano Americans.

On my part, I asked Mr. Silva why he depicted in his mural that a Filipino was a cofounder of the City of Los Angeles when it was a hoax. I asked him also why he painted the supposed landing of Filipinos in New Orleans, LA, in the eighteenth century when his basis was the book of fiction of Marina Espina, as she admitted it to be when she presented it before the Cebu Studies Center at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City, Philippines.

Mr. Silva did not like my questions. He said that I was anti-Filipino and it seemed that I was belittling the Filipino historic achievements in the United States. He said that I was the typical "Brown American" who was always pro-American and against the interest of the Filipino people. I asked Mr. Silva what his citizenship was. He said that he was born in the United States and, therefore, was a natural-born American. I told him that I continued to remain a Filipino citizen. I asked who – between the two of us – showed true Filipino nationalism. Who was more a Filipino: Mr. Silva, an American citizen of Filipino descent, or I, who chose to be a Filipino citizen? Mr. Silva did not reply and at the end of the MBCLA meeting, he left and he never bothered to attend again our regular Wednesday-morning community forums.

This writer has met young ACFD, who hate the supposed abuses committed by the Americans during the (Christian) Filipino-American War of 1899-1902. I keep on telling these young men and women to just learn from the lessons of history and get on with their lives. I told them that if they indeed hate the United States, then they were free to renounce their American citizenship and move to the Philippines. But apparently while they hate their country of birth, they do not want to leave the good life in the United States.

As I have been writing all these years, the ACFD must act like true Americans and not American citizens for reason of convenience alone. To do otherwise would in fact make them – because of their own conduct – second-class citizens in the United States. # # #

(To be continued . . .)

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Last Updated on Monday, 15 October 2007 04:04

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