With their national origins in Spanish and US imperialism

With their national origins in Spanish and US imperialism, and in the subsequent wake of intense waves of cultural colonisation, educated Filipinos are often at a loss about what their roots are. In order to bring much needed clarity to the ongoing debate about what it means to be Filipino, this essay will relate the past to the present by tracing the evolution of, and the continuities in, the essence of Filipino social organisation and worldview, drawing frequent comparisons with Indonesian and Thai data. The core approach taken – wherein these issues are examined through the lens of culture – is complemented with (i) reflections on common Southeast Asian principles of social construction and (ii) with the pinpointing of the systemic divides that prevent Filipinos from identifying with the collective whole and from growing into a nation of committed citizens. The paper is of relevance both to scholarly researchers and to others with practical interests in the region, as it will enable them to better know the people that they are or will be dealing with.