Entry #62: The Effects of Colonization Pisses Me Off

The Impact of Colonization

I am a product of colonization. Well two instances, actually. And it pisses me off.

First, my last name is Domingo, and there are times where I don’t feel so proud to say it because of its Spanish roots.

My last name, most likely, comes from the colonization of the Philippine Islands from Spain in 1565-1898. So for that matter, I’ve essentially lost what could have been my idigenous name.

Secondly, I never really felt proud of my American identity because it almost felt like I was siding with the oppressor.

Born and raised in Hawai’i, I’ve come to learn about Hawaiian history and the effect that colonization, and the eventual overthrow of the kingdom in 1893.

The colonization and adoption of Western faculties had resulted in a sort of disenfranchisement of my identity as a Filipino and as a person who was born in Hawai’i. The manner of conduct, the way that I lived, was dictated by the values and norms as a result of these instances of colonization. But as a result of all of this, I come to ask myself sometimes, what was I supposed to be? Without the effects of colonization from generations ago, how much different would I have been, and would it be for better or for worse?

How Do I View Colonization

I hate to admit it, but I’m grateful for colonization.

I would admit to the amount of opportunities and pleasures that I would gladly indulge in such as ice cream, television, the shows that I watched, the food that I get to eat, and so on. How different my life would have been without Jack-In-The-Box right? But at the same time, I’m upset.

I’m upset that English is the only language I’m comfortably fluent in. The language I grew up with, my mother tongue, is Ilocano.

I have learned MORE French, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, Lusoga, Lugandan, Lugisu, Runyankole, and Langi than my mother tongue. I’ve listened to my parents speak my language for 24 years, yet have picked up almost nothing of my mother tongue.

I’m upset at myself for taking more than twenty years to finally wake up and understand the impact of what a colonized ancestry had led to my life today.

I’m upset at myself for being so lenient and less than enthusiastic to stand up against these issues of cultural appropriation and cultural disempowerment. Even if I was Filipino, there were still some things that were taken away from our cultural and used to create some kind of entity on its own. Lumpia, pancit, chicken adobo and Manny Pacquaio are some of the things that are used to symbolize my culture, and while they are true, they don’t tell the whole story.

I’m upset at the world around me for perpetuating this story line, at my ancestors for conforming to this sort of dominance against our kind.

But At The Same Time, We Should be Pissed the Fuck Off

For those who understand the purpose and agenda of colonization, it was no accident.

Everything about it, the takeovers, the overthrows, the entire premise of invading another land and exploiting the local peoples for the visitor’s personal benefit, it was no accident.

For those who are impacted by the negative effects of colonization in regions all over the world, but particularly in this case of being in Africa, it sucks.

The impact comes in the form of an inferiority complex towards those who are white. The reality is that people do look to White People as a model for goodness in society. And it took a long time for me to understand how that impact influenced my life.

Growing up as a Filipino-American, I would always compare the color of my skin with that of my peers. Darker people were probably up to no good while the lighter people were probably the ones that were going to be successful in life. Whatever that means.

Between darker and lighter Asian-Americans, it always seemed that the lighter you were, the better off you were meant to be. Whether I admitted to it or not, I always had that sort of comparison in mind. It made me think I was never good enough, despite living a perfectly good and full life thus far. I’ve done well in school, me and my previous managers and teammates always enjoyed and respected each other, I’ve come to make so many friends across the world, yet the storyline persists:

Because I’m not white, I’m not good enough.

I always felt inferior because I always felt people valued lighter-skinned people than my colored self. It created a lot of confusion about who I was supposed to be, and for a time, I didn’t enjoy being Filipino.

What makes me Filipino?

My name is Joshua Philipp Domingo.
– Joshua is a bible name.
– Philipp is just a shortened way to say Philippines.
– Domingo is a Spanish-origin name.

Other than the fact that my middle name is a sort of token of remembrance to know that I’m Filipino, what really makes me Filipino?

I don’t know the language. I don’t know where exactly where my mom and dad come from. I don’t know the history of my people in terms of the Spanish-Filipino War and Filipino-American War. I don’t know the values that my parents and grandparents were taught because of our language barrier.

I don’t know so many things that I feel so disempowered from my own personal identity.

Being Pissed Off Isn’t Enough, Moving Forward

I can no longer spend time dwelling on the fact that I’m angry at all of this.

I’m going to start learning more about my own culture, my own history and myself as a Filipino-American. I’m going to start trying to be able to speak to my parents in Ilocano, and to be able to say and ask things from them in the mother tongue I used to know. I’m going to start respecting and understanding my cultural background more and realizing that I need to be respecting myself and my culture.

It starts with reading, a lot. I need to start getting a grasp of myself, who I am and who I want to be as a result of my position right now. Reading books like Brown Skin, White Minds by E.J.R. David and The Latinos of Asia by Anthony Christian Ocampo have empowered me to be proud of my identity, and thus, proud of my self. I’m happy to be who I am and feel less ashamed for my own being.

I have so many more ideas of what I can do, and especially with this position to take as a pioneer to all of this, to embracing the fact that we are colored Filipino people. We are not meant to take the back seat anymore about all of this because we have suffered, intergenerationally, so much from the impact that we haven’t seen at all.

I’ve lost my Ilocano tongue. Growing up until about 4 or 5, I felt like I could speak it pretty well. But throughout my childhood years, I’ve lost my way as a Filipino person. I think what I want to do is to keep talking about that, more and more. To perpetuate the spirit that your identity, my identity, and every single person’s life should be glorified in their own regard and not to shame someone’s identity for how they were born.

I’ll also be one to admit that I was too lenient on myself before. I didn’t care about my history and I didn’t care about that fact that I couldn’t speak to my parents in Ilocano because we coulp speak perfectly fine in English.

But now I care.

I care enough that I need to spend my time forward becoming a better Filpino, to learn about my history and to push others to understand that being Filipino is nothing to be ashamed of. Despite our color, despite all the funny ways that we may do things, despite the annoyances that we see with our elder generation’s Filipino ways, that is still a culture we must own and understand.

2 Comments

  • Alexis Pangilinan , January 28, 2020 @ 10:41 am

    Wow. I’m so proud to know you.
    Growing up in my day, being Filipino was actually shameful. I hated being Filipino, being teased because of my heritage. Sadly, I only know enough Tagalog to as for directions or order a meal.
    I’m glad you open this dialog, there are so many great things about it and it should be talked about.
    Keep doing what you are doing!! You are amazing

    • Josh , February 3, 2020 @ 4:29 am

      You are too kind with your words Alexis, haha, thanks.

      Foreal? I didn’t know that so many people felt similarly, even for people that were generations above me. I really want to learn more and be able to talk about this with other Filipinos, especially to the younger ones back in Hawai’i. Hope things are doing well back home!

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