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Webster defines what a Filipino is

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The Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (New York: Portland House, 1989), of which I have a copy, correctly defines what a Filipino is:

Fil·i·pi·no (fil’əˈpē’nō), n., pl. -nos, adj. —n. 1. a native of the Philippines, esp. a member of a Christianized native tribe. —adj. 2. Philippine. [< Sp. derived from (las Islas) Filipinas Philippine (islands)]

Take note of  the phrase “a member of a Christianized native tribe”. This is historically precise because it was the Spanish friars who, upon baptizing the indigenous, automatically Hispanized them. We say automatically because the once pagan indigenous were assimilated into the societies (reducciones which later became pueblos, parroquias, etc.) that were created by the friars for them. In other words, those who were baptized or Christianized were welcomed into a new society which provided them the benefits of cultural dissemination, in a way “civilizing” them because  new concepts and tools from the West were by far and comparatively more advanced vis-à-vis the latter’s cultural way of life.

From these baptized ethnolinguistic groups or tribes evolved the Filipino.

In this regard, it is scientifically, culturally, and historically imprecise to say that the Ifugáos, the Mañguianes, the Aetas, the T’bolis, even the Moros, and all the other unbaptized ethnolinguistic groups to be called Filipinos for the mere reason that they did not assimilate themselves into the societies that could have shaped and molded them into the Filipino cosmos that was the world of José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Padre José Burgos, Luis Rodríguez Varela, and the rest.

This Webster definition is the reason why, in a previous blogpost (Filipino, in a jiffy), I named only three attributes which defined what a Filipino is:

1) Hispanic culture, with Malayo-Polynesian elements as a substrate.
2) The Spanish language.
3) Christianity (Roman Catholic Religion).

The indigenous who never got the chance to be baptized into the Christian faith were not Hispanized, thus failing to be Filipinized in the process. Of course, we can still say that the rest —particularly our indigenous brothers— are Filipinos. But only by virtue of citizenship (most notably, jus soli).


5 responses »

  1. Very expertly explained, Señor José Mario Alas y Soriano a.k.a. PEPE. Only nincompoops will refuse, because they are nincompoops already to see the truth and reality of this explanation and definition OF BOTH FILIPINAS and FILIPINO. In this same score, so-called UP historian Teodoro Agoncillo is condemnable when he wrote on page 6 of his HISTORY OF THE FILIPINO, that “It is difficult, if not impossible, to define what a Filipino is”. Can you beat that! This idiocy on FILIPINAS and on the FILIPINO are all poisoned fruits of US WASPo colonization in this country. with the ONLY ENGLISH policy in all our schools.


  2. Eat your breakfast

    The “only we are true Filipinos” is an incredibly divisive claim to make. Are we required to be Christians to be Filipinos? What is this? A theocracy like Iran where everyone must be a Muslim and follow the Shariah?

    Ironically, both Christianity and Islam are not native but a “gift” of our colonialists to control us better.


    • “Are we required to be Christians to be Filipinos?”

      From a historical viewpoint —a firm basis of our national identity— the answer is in the affirmative.

      I’m no fan of Islam (trivia: I have Muslim blood from my mom’ side), but I have respect for them because they know that their faith and their identity are tightly intertwined. We should be like that, as we were in the past. Because that will give us back the dignity that we used to have.

      “both Christianity and Islam are not native but a “gift” of our colonialists…”

      Better do some research first on what colonialism really is in the Spanish context vis-à-vis its US counterpart. Once you’re done, come back to me and argue.


  3. Pingback: 2013 Filipino Of The Year — Fr. Jojo Zerrudo! | FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES

  4. Pingback: Clarifying a misconception on the definition of “Filipino” | FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES

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