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Sep 28th
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice Why Many Filipinos Don’t Like to Be Called “Pinoy”
Why Many Filipinos Don’t Like to Be Called “Pinoy” PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Monday, 20 April 2009 14:49

Whenever asked where he comes from, the man (from Bicol) says, ‘P.I., 'Noy.’ (And this was how the ‘Pinoy’ came to be coined.)—As written in Top Twelve Reasons for Telling If a Filipino Is a Bicolano  



An impeccable source says that the term “Pinoy” was cooked up by some early Filipino settlers in California who made fun of the Bicolano immigrant’s usual way of answering the question as to where he came from. This was how Mar G. de Vera, a Los Angeles-based editor, journalist and book author, explained to this writer how the word, “Pinoy” came about. He cited anecdotal sources that he picked up from early California settlers from the Ilocos Region and the Province of Pangasinan.



Mr. De Vera, then the editor of the Philippine Journal magazine, asked me if I knew the origin of the word “Pinoy.” This happened during a job interview that he conducted when I applied for a position in what was then the leading Filipino-American publication in Los Angeles in 1988. Mr. De Vera also became the editor of a sister publication, the Manila Standard-Los Angeles edition, and my eventual boss.



When Mr. De Vera learned that I hailed from the Bicol Region, he asked me whether it was my first time to hear of the origin of “Pinoy.” I replied that I heard nearly the same story also from a Bicolano old-timer in Los Angeles.



Mar de Vera continued his story of how the early settlers made fun of each other. The Ilocanos would call those from Pangasinan as “Pangalatok” and the Pangasinense would retaliate by calling the former, “Ilocantot.” They ribbed the Bicolanos of their particular way of using “’Noy” to end sentences. And so, the other Filipino settlers would (for instance) say – when they see a Bicolano arriving – “Here comes Mr. “P.I. ‘Noy’.” And since there is no long “I” in most Filipino languages, "P.I., 'Noy" came “pinoy” (pronounced as “pee-noy”) eventually.



N owadays, almost all of Americans of Bicolano descent do not want to be called “Pee-noy,” as many of them know that the term was used to make fun of their elders. Like the Samarnons (from the island of Samar, the island next to the Bicol Peninsula at the southern end of Luzon), they do not want also to be called “Pilipino,” for they do like to be associated with “pili nut” (Canarium ovatum) that grows best in the Bicol Region and Samar Island. The Bicolanos and the Samarnons say that they are not nuts, so as to be called, Pili-pino.”



* Editor’s Note: To read more about the Pili tree and its seed, the pili nut, please click on this hyperlink,



In this age where the use of politically-correct terms and phrases is in vogue, Americans of Filipino descent and Filipinos should not be using “Pinoy” or “Pinay” (referring to a female Filipino) or worse, “Flip.” People from the Philippines do not like also to hear their country being called “Pinas,” for obvious reasons. Would an American like his country to called “Ica”? That would not only sound right but it would also be grave political error to use it.



In regard to the ill-advised use of “Flip” as the name of the Filipino-American Library’s e-newsletter, an earlier article that I wrote generated quite a tempest. Twenty-four out of the 26 comments condemned the use of “Flip,” as being derogatory to the Filipino image and insulting more so from historical perspectives. Here is the link again to that article, The FAL Will Fall Over its Decision to Name its E-magazine “The Flip”



Two of those who commented against the use of “Flip” mentioned also a dislike for the use of “Pinoy.”



I can not discern why some Filipinos love to call themselves with names that are derogatory and self degrading. I have a problem even with the terms like ‘Pinoy/Pinay.’ I did not like (it) when a person of another race called me ‘Pinoy’ . . . I even asked the Philippine media to stop using the terms ‘Pinoy/Pinay’ in their publications because people of other races read them also, and that could trigger others to get the wrong impression – Roy Padre, who is an American of Ilocano descent



Ed Navarra, a retired Filipino-American engineer of Ford Motors, had these words to say about the use of “Pinoy,” as quoted in the article about “The Flip” e-newsletter of the Filipino-American Library: “Dr. Paz Buenaventura Naylor, professor of Linguistics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor,  . . . even objected (to) our calling each other ‘Pinoys’ . . . BTW she is a grandniece of Emilio Aguinaldo." Engineer Navarra is the Midwest chairman of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA).



What say you, Dear Readers?  (To be continued . . .)  

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Last Updated on Monday, 20 April 2009 22:19
Comments (1)
1 Tuesday, 21 April 2009 17:06
Personally I am not put off by the term Pinoy, Pinay, Pinas, Pangalatok. If others are offended by them I will make it a point not to use the terms in their presence.

But I might use the terms in an email without any intention of insulting anyone. Any offended reader can easily hit the delete button.

Fred Natividad
Livonia, Michigan

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