We are Asians, specifically Southeast Asians and specifically we are Austronesians. We aren’t Pacific Islanders. The only ones who tend to say we are, are those who live in the states especially in Hawai’i and California. Those in the Philippines generally have no problem with this issue.
We may be in the Pacific and our country is comprised of many islands however that statement would then fall to other island countries in the Pacific like Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. You don’t see them calling themselves Pacific Islanders do you?
Pacific Islanders only refer to those who are from these regions, Polynesia, Oceania, and Micronesia, and the Philippines is not in any of those regions.
So for those Filipino’s who keep insisting we are Pacific Islanders, no, stop, you are making a fool of yourselves.
Now if you bring up the argument that our pre-colonial cultures are similar to the cultures of Polynesia, Oceania, and Micronesia, then yes they are similar such as our tattooing traditions. However this is where the Austronesian family comes from. There are two things that define us. Geography and language family. Geography wise we are in Asia, in Southeast Asia. The Philippines is not located in Polynesia, Oceania, or Micronesia, therefore, we are Asians. We have also have had significant influences and interactions with other Asian nations such as China and Japan way before the Spaniards arrived.
Now we are also Austronesians as our languages are a part of the Austronesian language family. Austronesians span from Taiwan downward to Malaysia to Madagascar to all the way to Hawai’i. Our languages are all part of the same family and our ancestors all descended from the same group of people who migrated by the seas. We can still see this connection with several common words in the Austonesian-Polynesian languages such as the words for 5, “lima” and eye, “mata”. However the Polynesians branched off as they migrated. We share the same common ancestors but we are not the same.
So you ask, so what are we then? We are a “mix” of different cultures anyway right? Wrong. Our cultures are Austronesian and Southeast Asian. Our cultures, our indigenous cultures not the Hispanic influences during the colonial era, are so alike to other Southeast Asian nations such as Indonesia and Malaysia. We have always had history with maritime Asia with those from Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Borneo, as well as China and Japan. We were part of the maritime trade and as an area that participated in trading we have influences from those we traded with it. Parts of the Philippines was also a part of the Srivijaya Empire and were Indianized outer states. We were known for our gold and gold work and many came to trade for them. The first Spaniards noted how much of an abundance of gold we had because every person they met wore gold, from the upper class to the slaves. We knew how to do gold work such as making sashes and headdresses and ornaments as well as integrating in some sword hilts, however despite that we regulated gold mining pretty well to the point we rarely mined unless needed. It was something the Spaniards discouraged saying how much of a waste it was that our ancestors didn’t want to exploit the gold but wanted it and knew it was better in the ground.
We are not Hispanic either. We have some Hispanic influences in our modern culture, but we are not Hispanic nor is our cultures. But that’s another topic for another day.
Though our indigenous cultures have some similarity to those in Polynesia, Oceania, and Micronesia such as our tattooing cultures, our cultures differed from those from those regions. We are distant family, but we are not the same.
So for those who say we are Pacific Islanders, we are absolutely not. We are Asians residing in the continent of Asia. We are Southeast Asians residing in Southeast Asia and sharing similar cultures and history with other parts of maritime Southeast Asia. We are Austronesian’s, part of the Austronesian family.
Written with extra detail in response to several people asking for my reply to this ask to be rebloggable.