My identity clashed
by Adrian Pizarro
ANAK’s Andrew Aviso presenting Adrian Pizarro with a framed honourable mention and book award at the Sisler High School awards ceremony
Adrian Pizarro was awarded the 2018 ANAK Liwayway Scholarship for Leadership Excellence – Honourable Mention last June based on his high school GPA, a group interview, and an essay in response to the question, “How do values and cultural stereotypes affect your Filipino identity in Canada?” The following essay was his submission.
Ever since I moved to Canada, I tried to establish my Filipino identity. Since I am here, the most current connection I have to the Philippines is through the Internet. Reading all the articles about the blatant homophobia and excessive violence there made me realize how hard it was to maintain my identity here. What they do represents mainstream Filipino identity, and if I want to keep up with it, I have to adjust and follow them. This presents a problem, as Canada is very liberal in comparison to the Philippines, so my identity clashed. It is hard to balance out my identity, as a lot of the time I face two opposing values.
I read about the 14 Good Filipino Habits that Make the Philippines a Great Country (Abrugar), and already it did not match with Manny Pacquio’s homophobic remark (Murphy). That, or perhaps the articles themselves are conflicting.
Filipinos are supposed to be polite and be discrete (Abrugar). Here, Pacquiao compares gay people to animals on national television. He defends himself by saying it is “what the Bible says” (Murphy), so it is actually in tune with how Filipinos are supposed to be faithful (Abrugar). This confuses me, as I am not sure if politeness should trump faithfulness and honesty, or the other way around. These values go against each other, and I have to cherry pick the good of both values. If I do pick both however, I will be using these values to mask the fact that they are both hypocritical to each other.
Meanwhile, Canadian influences go against what Pacquiao said. Gay people are protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I have to pick a side, and it is confusing. This goes beyond him.
Next up, I read President Rodrigo Duterte’s profile, and honestly, I do not want to accept him as the representative of Filipinos. The fact that he had won the office of the president made me realize what the Filipino identity is made of. I understand that the state of the Philippines is not as good as Filipinos want it to be, so their desperation elected Duterte. Once he was elected, “[his drug] campaign has worked in reducing overall crime, … although homicides and murders have gone up.” This implies that a lot of deaths are swept under the rug, proving Duterte’s tackling of corruption fruitless. And yet, he still has “a historic 91 per cent approval rating.” Not believing in him affects my Filipino identity as he symbolizes what a Filipino leader should be. (“Profile: Duterte”)
All the while Canada encourages minorities to embrace and share their native identities, especially Filipinos; it is so jarring as Canadian and Filipino cultures are not always on the same side. While I know that not all Filipinos are both similar to Manny Pacquiao and Rodrigo Duterte, the reality that they are both in high positions imply that they represent Filipino beliefs. All that I can do is to take the best of both Canadian and Filipino culture, and incorporate them within myself.
- Abrugar, Victorino Q. “14 Good Filipino Habits that Make the Philippines a Great Country.” FAQph, 2 Sept. 2014, faq.ph/good-filipino-habits-that-make-the-philippines-a-great-country.
- Murphy, Chris. “Manny Pacquiao Sparks Fury after Homophobic Remark.” CNN, Cable News Network, 17 Feb. 2016, www.cnn.com/2016/02/16/sport/boxing-manny-pacquiao-animals-gay/index.html.
- “Profile: Duterte the Controversial ‘Strongman’ of the Philippines.” BBC News, BBC, 4 Oct. 2016, www.bbc.com/news/world-36659258.
Adrian Pizarro graduated from Sisler High School and started his first year of studies at the University of Manitoba. Stay tuned for news on ANAK’s 2019 scholarship program. Visit www.anak.ca to learn more about ANAK programs, opportunities, and ways you can get involved or support our youth.