To ‘P’ or not to ‘P’: That is the question: whether ’tis more correct to use “Pilipino” instead of “Filipino”…

September 16, 2008 · Posted in General · 25 Comments 

by Allan G. Aquino

This article was originally written in 1998 and published in the Philippine Post. Allan has given his permission to republish this article. Keep in mind that Allan wrote this before grad school, when he used to drink a whole lot more. Enjoy the throwback.

One of the things I really like about my ethnic identity is its seemingly infinite ambiguity. After all, Filipinos surely have their own individual perceptions about what our collective identity is, how it is to be defined. If there are millions of Pinoys on earth, then surely there are millions of models of what is and what isn’t “Filipino.”

Some folks still feel Pinoys are distinguishable by phenotype, despite the fact that many of us are commonly mistaken for Latinos (our mostly Spanish surnames adding to the confusion), other Asians, even African-Americans. I myself am often prejudged by my looks as being Native American (people often ask me, “From what nation are you?”). Interestingly, the fact that I’m spelling our collective label with an “F” (rather than as “Pilipino”) is likely to raise now long-running debates on self-definition.

So, to “P” or not to “P.”

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