This post was written by a student in Susan Schuyler’s Narrative, Rhetoric, and Identity class at Stanford University. Each student in this class will complete a research-based argument related to the course topic.
A month ago, I flew 7000 miles away from my comfortable Manila home to spend four years of my life in a country I had only seen in fleeting summer trips and in dramatized television shows and movies.
To tell you the truth, I was deathly afraid. I feared that my culture, speech and appearance would leave me an undeniable outcast. Stanford was a school of diversity, and I was comforted by the fact that I wasn’t alone. When I met the Filipino-American immigrants at Stanford, they made me realize that if they had managed to establish an identity in an unfamiliar place, so could I.
I then began to read through books on the diaspora and was exposed to the demanding social pressure that Filipino immigrants have to undergo. According to research, Filipinos find it hard to maintain an identity, mostly due to our atypical Asian appearance, our country’s third-world reputation and various preconceptions and stereotypes. People saw Filipinos as low-class and considered it such a great feat that I, a Filipino from a Catholic school in Manila, managed to enter Stanford.
The Filipino-Americans hurdle through these obstacles and adjust to the society in various ways. Some alter their identity in order to conform, abandoning cultural traditions and altering physical appearance. Some find partners in people of different races and parent half-Filipinos- a very common find nowadays. On the other hand, some find it better to seclude themselves. They form organizations and seek to build familial communities, maintaining the same cultural traditions.
These issues, as well as my involvement in Stanford’s Pilipino-American Student Union led me to question: How do Filipino-Americans lead their lives in America? What effects do various methods of social adjustment have on their identities? Why do some methods work better for others?
My textual conversation would synthesize the activities of the Filipino-American community and explore the societal context behind these. Previous studies have collected research on this topic but have not yet focused on the argument of identity, specifically of Filipino teenagers like me in college. My argument would probably cover the effect of these in the transformation of the Filipino-American identity, and maybe focus on the youth. I could utilize various research methods like interview and survey to get various perspectives on the issue, and also hopefully get some sense of how I, as a pure Filipino youth, should spend my years in America.
-Geraldine Baniqued, Stanford University