Mestizo/Mestiza

Half American, half-Filipino actress Vanessa Hudgens;  Half-British, half-Filipino soccer player Phil Younghusband; Half-Black American, half-Filpino model Wilma Doesn't; and half-Austrian, half-Filipino actress Cindy Kurleto

Half American, half-Filipino actress Vanessa Hudgens; Half-British, half-Filipino soccer player Phil Younghusband; Half-Black American, half-Filpino model Wilma Doesn’t; and half-Austrian, half-Filipino actress Cindy Kurleto

Loosely translated, a mestizo(male)/mestiza(female) in our country is one who is referred to as a half-breed. Not to insult but that is actually what a mestizo is. That mestizo may be a half Filipino and half American; half Filipino and half German, or in our history, a half indio (how Filipinos were referred to during the Spanish period) and half Spanish.

How did this concept of the mestizo come about? It’s also a wonder for a student of history that such idea was somewhat of an issue during the Spanish period in the Philippines. Half breeds have been a reality in the Philippines even before the Spaniards reached our shores. Former inhabitants were the aborigines, the migrants from Malaysia and Indonesia and the traders from China. It is important to note here that every Filipino is at least 10% Chinese — a fact that there were intermarriages and the presence of “half-breeds” even then.

The mestizo/mestiza at one point in Philippine history was specific to the half “indio” and half Spaniard. According to the historian Teodoro Agoncillo, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran used to be an orphanage where the mestizos were housed and given the surnames Delos Reyes and Delos Santos — Delos Reyes, if the child’s parent was a Spanish official or from the military, and Delos Santos if the parent was wearing the “frock”. Gofigure.

Fast forward to the present time. Of late, intermarriages with foreigners has been on the rise and these have resulted to a new breed of Filipinos. Nowadays, you see a lot of half-Filipino and half-what-not everywhere. You see them in TV and print ads, see them in movies, see them in government and even dominate the air waves. They have that edge in the entertainment industry because of their looks and their foreign accents. Some of them have an edge in business because of their foreign contacts.

Despite their physical attributes and their cultural mix, in their hearts they consider themselves more Filipino than their foreign half. Through their Filipino parent, they value their family, their cultural and spiritual heritage. What more, in spite of the traffic congestion, pollution and other inconveniences in the Metro Manila area, they keep coming back and opt to live here permanently saying, “There’s no place like home!”

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