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The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race

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Is race only about the color of your skin? In The Latinos of Asia , Anthony Christian Ocampo shows that what "color" you are depends largely on your social context. Filipino Americans, for example, helped establish the Asian American movement and are classified by the U.S. Census as Asian. But the legacy of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines means that they share many cultural characteristics with Latinos, such as last names, religion, and language. Thus, Filipinos' "color"―their sense of connection with other racial groups―changes depending on their social context. The Filipino story demonstrates how immigration is changing the way people negotiate race, particularly in cities like Los Angeles where Latinos and Asians now constitute a collective majority. Amplifying their voices, Ocampo illustrates how second-generation Filipino Americans' racial identities change depending on the communities they grow up in, the schools they attend, and the people they befriend. Ultimately, The Latinos of Asia offers a window into both the racial consciousness of everyday people and the changing racial landscape of American society.

272 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2016

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Anthony Christian Ocampo

3 books26 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 63 reviews
Profile Image for Michael.
655 reviews966 followers
December 25, 2020
an interesting look at how Filipinos bend and break the rules of race in America. Ocampo argues that Filipino-Americans often feel (and are read as) more Latinx than Asian, because of the Philippines’ Spanish colonial history and similarly mixed cultural heritage. homing in on California, where Filipinos are often in close proximity to Latinx communities, he carefully examines when this identification is most intense and when it’s weakest and how it varies across class, gender, and age. this would have been even more interesting had he considered other states, which are outside the scope of the study.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
262 reviews2 followers
July 3, 2016
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book and unfortunately it seemed to emphasize the feeling of otherness that I have never quite be able to shake. I am not from a large family. I did not grow up on the west coast. I did not participate in any Filipino organizations nor have I ever been misidentified as being anything other than Filipino. I liked the book but I didn't love it. I wish the author ventured outside of Southern California.
Profile Image for Maria.
88 reviews19 followers
September 9, 2020
In THE LATINOS OF ASIA, we learn how places, life stages, and people around us mold our racial consciousness. How the rules of race differs from place to place. And how for Filipino Americans shifting social worlds requires assessing which rules apply, a factor that plays a big role in how we perceive our racial identity. Anthony Ocampo’s research focuses on the experience of middle class, second-gen Filipino Americans living in Eagle Rock or Carson, CA.

As a first-gen Filipino American living near Los Angeles, I found myself relating to a lot to the people interviewed in the book. And interestingly, I also found a lot of differences in our experiences in the US. Like many of the Fil-Ams interviewed, I also joined a Filipino club in college and found a sense of home. But unlike most, that was the first time I’ve felt a sense of Filipino community among my peers in the US.

Most of the people interviewed grew up in a multiethnic neighborhood, in which roughly 20% are Filipino. My first look of the US was a neighborhood predominantly white and Latinx. The race demographics of my old HS is currently 45% white, 40% Latinx, 10% Asian (includes Filipinos), and 4% Black which also reflects the demographics of the neighborhood. These differences motivated me to deeply reflect on the panethnic moments I grew up with and currently experience. How my own racial identity changed over the years.

If I was asked which race I would choose form the options: Asian, Latinx, Pacific Islander, or other, before college I would have checked the box for Pacific Islander. Given the race demographics of the neighborhood I grew up in, I distinctly saw how different white, Latinx, and Asian peers socialized and presented themselves. I hung out with a multiethnic group, but in many ways felt like an outsider because of my experience with immigration. I distinctly remember not wanting to select ‘other,” because I didn’t want to perpetuate my feelings of already being the “resident alien.” If presented with the same question today, I would probably select ‘other.’ But I’d look at the Latinx option, thinking of all the cultural parallels from the shared history of Spanish colonization, and really consider it. I find my own experience reinforcing the author’s point that racial identity is fluid and dependent on shifting social contexts.

This book is also reveals how panethnic moments can influence and shape negative stereotypes we overtly/covertly hold. There were times when some Filipinos interviewed blatantly used negative stereotypes when referring to Latinx and Asian American communities. Anthony Ocampo highlights the need to be aware of this. These stereotypical tendencies and the topic of race in general aren’t commonly discussed in the Filipino community. But it’s important we talk about it and hold ourselves accountable, to stand up for BIPOC communities -because ultimately, we’re all beating against a society that prizes white supremacy.

Overall, I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about the Filipino diaspora in the US.
Profile Image for Leo.
62 reviews
September 4, 2016
I had so many mixed feeling when I was reading this. There were times that I thought "Hey, that was me too!" and others I was like, "What?!?"

What I wished throughout the book was that Ocampo included Filipinos from other communities. All of the Filipinos that were interviewed for this book were from either Carson or Eagle Rock and their experience was much different than mine. These are cities with huge Filipino communities and are synonymous with being Filipino. I grew up in Hacienda Heights, which had greater diversity in the Asian community than Carson and Eagle Rock. This helped me develop a stronger tie to an Asian American identity than the Filipinos in the book. I found it odd that they were so adverse to checking Asian on forms.

Overall, even though I found it frustrating at times, I enjoyed this book. I thought it was an interesting look at how we view race and how Filipino Americans define what it means to be Filipino. The section on Filipino clubs on college campuses and PCN was spot on and I loved reading it because it was a common experience I shared with the people in the book.
Profile Image for Patrick.
122 reviews38 followers
July 18, 2021
Wow! I am not sure I have ever read a book that has made made me think more about my racial and ethnic identity more than this one. It is essential reading for all Filipino Americans or anyone who is even remotely interested in the history and culture of Filipinos.

I learned so much from the first few chapters. It's honestly a bit sad how little I knew about the history of The Philippines or the history of how Filipinos came to America. And perhaps I should not have been, but I was delightfully surprised to learn little tidbits like the fact that The Philippines has the 5th-largest English speaking population in the world, or that Filipinos comprise the largest Asian population in California.

As the book pivoted more towards anecdotes and interviews, however, I became increasingly disconnected and almost self-conscious at how much the experience of the California Filipinos differed from my own: I did not grow up in a "bubble of color" like so many of the people interviewed and quoted.

In particular, the chapters about how Filipinos' education experiences shaped their identities certainly forced me to reflect upon my own education, but ultimately, I found it a bit hard to relate to. For all of the people interviewed, they had formative educational experiences where either Filipino or East Asian students made up a sizeable portion of their class, with vastly different consequences depending on which. My educational experience was simply different, in a way that -- I hate to say -- almost made me feel less Filipino?

That being said, despite feeling somewhat excluded from the narrative, I was left questioning the value of my own experience. From K-12, I went to predominantly white Catholic schools were there were not large East Asian, Black, or Latinx populations. And for my undergraduate degree, I went to a school that was not only even whiter than those, but also one where Filipinos were almost entirely non-existent. I am still left wondering if I was better or worse off because of it.

Funnily enough, the part I related to most was about the medical student, Eileen Aquino (what a coincidence!). I admire the candidness of her journey, going from instinctually identifying with "Asian" when asked if she identified most with Blacks, Asians, Latinos, or whites to questioning the degree to which that assumption was actually true. As someone who has always effortlessly ascribed to being "Asian," I wonder how I will question that moving forward.

Ultimately, I found this book truly fascinating, but it left me wanting something similar about the experience of East Coast Filipinos. Certainly there are enough of us in NYC alone to warrant a comparably interesting read. (Fuck, maybe I should write one myself?) Hopefully I am not alone in wanting that!

Finally, throughout the book, I couldn't help but thinking about the other side of the coin. Specifically, how are Filipinos seen by East Asians? As the same or other? Or perhaps more revealing, how are Filipinos seen by whites? As the same as East Asians or of a different race? (Of course, there is not a unilateral answer, but what research and studies have been done investigating those questions?) I can't help but think of the Ali Wong comedy sketch where she delineates between "fancy Asians" (i.e., Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) and "jungle Asians" (i.e., Filipinos, Vietnamese, Thai, etc.). To whom am I a jungle Asian? To whom I am simply Asian? And to whom am I none of the above?

At the end of the day, I am extremely grateful for this book for making me thinking of my Filipino-ness in ways I never have before. For that alone it was well worth the read!

Profile Image for Raquel.
56 reviews
March 17, 2016
A much needed book in the dialogue of Filipino-ness. While knowing that race is an artificial construct, Ocampo utilises the modern Filipino-American narrative in weaving a complex and adaptable Filipino identity, that struggles in a society of categories and checkboxes.

I was a little disappointed that the book's studies were entirely with second-generation Filipino-Americans and not in a wider, more international context (I am Canadian myself). However, hopefully this will be a conversation starter to the complexity of being who we are: Filipino is a distinct, overlapping ethnicity that escapes neat categorisation.
Profile Image for Julia.
23 reviews
February 16, 2021
would have loved an expanded geographical focus instead of just southern CA, but nevertheless this book really made me feel seen. reading this helped me realize key formative moments in my own life and sort out the mixed feelings i’ve always had towards the identity of asian-american, both in terms of what people recognize it as (usually only east asian), and how i apply it to myself (why have i always felt different, whether among whites or fellow asians, and who have i tried to emulate and why?). overall would recommend to everyone as an intro on why filipino-americans are so populous yet underrepresented/ignored/simply not present in the consciousness of the rest of the US.
Profile Image for Nathan.
28 reviews1 follower
September 14, 2018
In his acknowledgements, Professor Ocampo addresses the anonymous interviewees that provided the substance for his work: "please know that your stories have made an impact on the lives of countless Filipinos, who rarely get the chance to read about themselves." Count me within that number, and allow me to also express my gratitude. This book is a very localized contemplation of the Filipino-American diaspora that focused on the experiences of the communities in Eagle Rock and Carson in Los Angeles. I've never been to either and, despite growing up in SoCal, had to look the communities up on a map. Yet, there is quite a bit within the descriptions of individual experiences that rings familiar. For reasons I had been previously unable to articulate, I have generally identified myself as a Pacific Islander when given the option. For reasons no one else seemed to grasp, I insisted on being a member of both the Asian-American and Latino student organizations in college. Every person who has ever had a discussion with me about pinoy heritage has been forced to listen to a recounting of all the ways in which Filipino culture has more in common with Mexican culture than it does with other Asian cultures.

I've lived within and amongst Filipino communities in SoCal, Chicago, New York/New Jersey, and the DMV and there is nothing necessarily universal about what Professor Ocampo describes as the characteristics of Filipino-Americans from Eagle Rock and Carson to those in the rest of the country. But the limited perspective affords Professor Ocampo a perfect backdrop to explore the fluidity of racial identification for Filipino-Americans throughout the country.

I absolutely loved the experience of reading this book and am thrilled that it exists.
Profile Image for Isabella.
33 reviews1 follower
January 13, 2021
interesting read! i always felt confused as to why the PH doesn't feel close to other Latino communities, and other Asian communities, and this book articulated my thoughts very well.
October 3, 2020
This book by Anthony Christian Ocampo is a fascinating look into Filipino-American identity. It really opened my view to the many ways Filipinos identify and then navigate their lives in America, a country so heavily focused and dictated by race and racial perceptions.

In his final chapter, Ocampo closes out by writing that his hope for the book was that we can better
address the social problems that continue to hinder the full inclusion of the Filipino American community within the imaginary of American society." And I do think that if more people read this, not just everyday people but sociologists, activists, academics, and more, we could definitely fulfill Ocampo's goal. He gives an example of the Asians for the National Marrow Donor Program Registry group at UCLA handing out flyers for organ donation to students they perceived as Asian - which meant they ignored several Filipinos who walked by, including Ocampo himself. This narrow view of Asian identity ends up harming Filipinos who could benefit from Filipino students' donations.

On the other hand, many Filipino Americans themselves don't identify as Asian at all, instead more closely tying themselves to Latino groups. Many Filipinos are also often perceived as Latino or more Latino by outsiders, including Latinos themselves. Racial and ethnic identity is so complicated, and Ocampo really explores how magnified that is for Filipinos. It even made me look into my identity as a Filipino, and threw me into a bit of an existential crisis, wondering whether as a Filipino, I was Latino and not Asian, as I have identified for my whole life.

This is one drawback to the book, in my opinion. Ocampo does say at the start that he hoped to learn "how Filipinos carved out their racial place within American society" and that he was "especially interested in studying Filipinos in Los Angeles, because the region, in many respects, foreshadows the America of tomorrow." But it feels strange to give a book such a broad title when the focus is on such a small, specific sample size (85 second generation Filipino Americans in two LA neighborhoods). I found myself often wishing that the book's scope was broader. Do Filipinos in Texas feel the same way? What about the Filipinos in Jersey? Are they as unlikely to identify as non-Asian? What were their experiences with white people like? Ocampo's findings are definitely interesting, but I worry that readers may forget that they reflect only general sentiment among second-generation Filipino Americans in LA, and instead apply these findings to all Filipino Americans as his wording often suggests.

It was also interesting how Ocampo didn't dive into Filipinos' penchant for glorifying and idolizing whiteness (thanks to years of colonization) especially in chapter 6 '"Filipinos Aren't Asian" and Other Lessons from College' when talking about Fil-Am college students experiencing whites en masse for the first time. These students were culture shocked, rightfully so. But Filipinos have a history of craving proximity to whiteness, wanting their kids to marry whites, wanting more Caucasian noses, etc; it's such a big part of the culture that it feels off to ignore.

Finally, as a small nitpick, even though it's an academic book, Anthony does offer uncited commentary at times, and so I do wish that he had pushed back on some of his interviewees comments when they veered towards closed mindedness or even racist. He shows he can do it (pg 148) for his readers, when categorizing an interviewee's generalizations of "other Asians" as "reductionist and problematic." But that's really as far as he goes, and I think it would be beneficial for readers (especially other Fil-Ams) to see him push back.
Profile Image for Belle.
44 reviews1 follower
May 30, 2017
This is a comprehensive look at one very specific subset of Filipino-Americans - Ocampo clearly did a huge amount of research for this book, and his writing style is conversational and accessible. Definitely a fascinating insight into this group of people, but like others have said, has its limitations. For me, personally, I went into this book hoping to be affirmed and validated with each page - but it turned out to kind of have the opposite effect. My own experience was pretty much the polar opposite of the stories detailed in this book - my family is not family-centered, doing well academically was the only priority, my mom encouraged me to move away and follow my dreams (no pressure to stay close to home), church was not a big deal, there were practically no other Filipinos in my neighborhoods and schools growing up. So I can totally identify with some other reviewers saying that they felt a little alienated by large portions of the book. But I recognize that Ocampo deliberately chose to focus on this small Filipino-American subset, and he even says in the epilogue that the book by no means covers ALL experiences. I did appreciate being able to read about experiences that were so different from my own growing up. On a somewhat unrelated note, I also found myself feeling frustrated by some of the broad generalizations/stereotypes that many of the subjects made about other Asian-Americans, but to his credit, Ocampo made sure to point these out as problematic.
Profile Image for Michaela.
101 reviews9 followers
June 11, 2021
Fascinating book and premise, but I wish Ocampo’s research expanded beyond Southern California and looked at Filipinx who grew up in predominantly white communities vs majority minority communities.

I also realize this book was published in 2016, so I wonder how Covid and the growing tide of anti-Asian racism may have affected the perspectives presented.
Profile Image for Madeleine.
40 reviews
July 14, 2022
A personal and detailed look at middle class, second-generation Filipino.a identity in LA. I learned so much and loved diving into a sociological piece.
Profile Image for Veronica Irby.
24 reviews
January 5, 2022
As a Filipino American, it was refreshing to hear stories of fellow Filipino Americans who shared similar sentiments surrounding the Asian American experience. I appreciated these stories and the endeavor to explore what makes The Philippines so unique among all the other Asian countries.

With that said, I do wish the pool of individuals interviewed was more diverse- and by that I mean Filipino Americans who live outside of Southern California. I also felt that as the book progressed the points made became redundant. I would’ve liked to see the author dive deeper into the sociological and psychological aspects of the common threads found across the interviewees’ stories.
Profile Image for Meghan.
51 reviews
January 24, 2021
Last year, after reading Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay, I realized how little I knew about the Philippines and Filipino Americans. I learned a lot by reading this, particularly about the history of Filipino Americans, as well as their unique racial, ethnic, and historical context in the US. This also helps me expand my thinking about race and the way different contexts can affect self-perception of race. More reading ahead of me, but this was a helpful start.

Prompted by reading other reviews, I'll add that the study was limited to communities in Southern California, so some conclusions might be limited by the scope, but I think this is the nature of research.
Profile Image for Deandra.
139 reviews2 followers
October 10, 2022
A really interesting look at Filipino Americans and how they view themselves and how the world views them. It was at times repetitive but as most of us don't know any of this history, the repetition can serve to really make us remember these points.
Profile Image for John.
206 reviews7 followers
May 21, 2021
Pretty interesting sociological study of Filipinos in the LA area. Big take away is the Filipinos in his sample tend to identify the label "Asian" with academic success/being upper class/bilingualism and identify the label of "Latino" with Catholicism, family focus, and working class backgrounds. Which label feels like a more natural fit largely depends on context, and most of the context of his interviewees makes them feel closer to Latinos than to Asians.

The most obvious limitation of this research is its small geographic focus. Filipinos Americans from different types of communities and different parts of the country will likely have had different experiences with these two labels. A second limitation is that there did not seem to be any Asian populations in his sample beyond East Asians and Filipinos. How do Cambodian Americans, another sizeable AAPI group in California, fit into the Asian but not East Asian space? Maybe this would be beyond the scope of his project, but that seems like a natural point of comparison - a group with different class/education markers from the East Asian stereotype his interviewees felt distant from, but not the Spanish empire influenced language and religion they saw as connecting them to Latinos.

Even so, this is a well written and engaging book that explores some important questions of race, ethnicity, and identity. A good book for anyone with interest in AAPI topics, especially regarding Filipino American experiences.
29 reviews
June 18, 2021
I'm a white woman and I'm dating a US born Filipino man, whose parents immigrated from the Philippines during the nursing crisis. There have been moments when I realized I just didn't get it. I assumed being Filipino meant also being under the Asian umbrella, but he claimed that it didn't feel that way: having a Spanish last name, using a fork and spoon to eat, their parents being fluent in English and he never speaking Tagalog as a child, his eyes not as Asian-looking and having brown skin so people assume he's Latino, etc. With this rise in anti-Asian hate in America, he has never felt unsafe as he doesn't have that East Asian look, but other family members do. Rather than putting the onus on him to teach me these things, I decided to look online for resources and I found this book. I was so fascinated while reading. I basically info-dumped to my boyfriend and his input boiled down to "yeah, that's true." While the book focuses on Eagle Rock and Carson, which have a heavy Filipino population, that was not my boyfriend's experience growing up in a predominately white area on the East coast. However, joining a Filipino club and becoming more comfortable with his identity as Filipino in college definitely rang true to his experience. The Filipino experience isn't universal, so some items in the book may not be 100% accurate to the individual Filipino reading it, but there is a good portion that I would say is.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
122 reviews2 followers
March 7, 2020
This book was very disappointing since Ocampo based the whole book and his research on two neighboring cities in California that he himself admits are anomalies of Filipino- American communities. He then generalizes these findings to the rest of Filipino Americans despite how incredibly different others have lived due to vastly differing demographics and socioeconomic status.

Ocampo's argument that Filipinos resemble Latinos far more than Asians would have been stronger if he had also acknowledged the similarities with other Asian cultures and then talked about how Filipinos were still different. But it was like he interviewed a small pool of people who identified with Latinos and then decided NOT to look at any other cultures to see how they could be similar too.

It was interesting to learn how Latinos and Filipinos share Spanish culture due to colonialism. In fact the impact of colonialism on Filipinos was the part I got the most out of from the book. But because of the author's failings, I could not continue with the rest of the book. I got almost 80% through and then just felt like because of Ocampo's shortcomings I couldn't see any of his findings as valid.
Profile Image for April Corbin.
4 reviews8 followers
January 26, 2018
While the research behind the book is limited in scope, the overarching issues of panethnicity and identity are fascinating and important. Much of the personal experiences shared in the book rang true for me as a multiracial person who grew up in Southern Nevada.
Profile Image for Jay Brannon.
9 reviews
July 5, 2021
Good book, but very focused on California. As an Oregonian Filipina, my family’s experience is drastically different than the Filipino experiences described by those in Cali. Should have put Cali/Los Angeles in the title or subheading of this book.
February 1, 2021
Insightful, often moving. It will help you understand why Pinoys in America have such complex identities.
Profile Image for Meilin.
110 reviews9 followers
July 1, 2022
I think this gives great insight on how race is a social construct. Filipinos have strong Spanish influences after being colonized yet Asian connections due to its geography. My best friend is Mexican and over the years, we learned how much overlap there is between our cultures that in college he was considered Filipino within my friend group. I feel like the book was a bit narrow in Filipino identity being based mostly in southern California. The east coast experience is definitely different for Filipinos and Asians in general because there aren't as many cultural hubs and more exposure to white people. Reading this book also felt weird because I understood the Filipino experience in the first couple of chapters where there was a strong sense of pride despite not knowing the language, but also felt alienated because I am also Chinese and couldn't really understand how different it is to be 'Filipino.' I also find it weird learning that the general census of Filipinos was lax towards education when my Filipino friends felt immense pressure to get A's, become a nurse/go into sciences, or achieve higher education. Out of my Filipino friends, I'm the only one with a degree in liberal arts while they majored in sciences. Despite this shared Asian experience, the Filipino experience comes from making the family proud than simply filial piety. I felt the college experience chapters of being alone and misunderstood because I was a mixed Asian and the clubs I tried to join were mostly just Chinese/East Asian or just Filipino and weren't exactly accepting of the mixed experience I had. Despite the book covering how Filipinos were able to blend in with other cultures, I think it does gloss over the fact that there is still prejudice in socializing or mixing with other races. However, this might be my east coast Filipino-Chinese experience rather than understanding the west coast experience. I think it's a great read, but would be stronger if it looked at other geographical experiences to strengthen this argument of how Filipinos break a race or racial expectations.
Profile Image for Hilary.
260 reviews
May 2, 2021
Primarily focused on the Filipino American community based out of Southern California, Ocampo uses ethnographic research, personal anecdotes, and the Philippines' history of Spanish and American colonization to delve into how Filipinos share connections with both the Latino and Asian communities—and how Filipinos, crucial to Asian American history and activism, have somehow been rendered invisible within the panethnic identity of "Asian American."

Colonial legacies set the background for many of the Filipino Americans Ocampo interviewed in different ways. Because the US forced an Americanized school system in the Philippines, most Filipino migrants were already fluent in English, which led to lower levels of bilingualism in future generations of Filipino Americans as well as diverse immigrant neighborhoods that differ greatly from ethnic enclaves like Chinatown. Yet the strong ties to the Philippines were learned from family, community, church, and even pamilya formed in tight-knit Filipino student groups on college campuses. A lot of these differences from other Asian American groups actually led many of the interviewees to not identify as Asian American, instead preferring to specify that they were Filipino, or even to identify as Pacific Islander. Outside-group stereotypes and assumptions about Asian American identity further exacerbates this feeling of alienation—after all, Ocampo points out, when the media covers "Asia," it is rarely referring to the Philippines.

I learned so much from this book and was particularly excited to see dedicated sections on PCNs, or Pilipino Cultural Nights, which is how I first got involved with the Filipinx community on my campus ❤️

Full review: https://www.instagram.com/p/COX8dg_Lli7/
Profile Image for Eliza.
118 reviews4 followers
December 21, 2017
I wish this book existed over two decades ago when my family and I immigrated to the U.S., and there was so much confusion about which racial category we belonged to. We came from a region of the Philippines that spoke Chavacano — one of the only Spanish-creole languages found in Southeast Asia (and a clear remnant of Spanish colonization.) Our names and faces “looked Latino,” but our birthplace was located in Asia. Trying to determine one’s identity based on a social construct was extremely challenging. Some may argue that we should do away with social constructs like race and ethnicity because it promotes othering. The unfortunate reality is that doing so would silence present-day effects of social/historical oppression, and it would not be feasible for non-dominant communities with limited political power and privilege. It’s better to acknowledge what makes us unique — to quote Audre Lorde, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” One of the purposes of this book is to promote understanding. As diverse as Filipinx-American communities are, we are bound by a common history, how we are affected by public perception, and how our lives are shaped by aspects of our cultural identity. This book is a recognition and an acceptance of our differences, which should be a cause for celebration.
1 review
March 27, 2023
This book “is all about the way that Filipinos in Los Angeles experienced race, ethnicity, and panethnicity in their everyday lives” (p.220, Appendix 2).

“Of course, the Filipinos whose stories fill this book are not representative of all Filipinos” (p.222, last paragraph of Appendix 2).

This framing is essential!

Frustration and confusion could have been avoided if these statements were made at the start, and not hidden in the appendix. Instead the book, through its title and framing, is presented as representing all Filipino Americans which it does not.

Still, the book provides useful information about the lived experiences of those Filipinos in the Los Angeles area. Chapter 2 delves into the important contexts of colonialism and history. It was surprising that the history of Filipinos in Louisiana or Alaska was not included, but then again this really is about Los Angeles California, so from that perspective it is not surprising.

For the non-working-class, Filipino Angelenos, I imagine this book could be quite validating. For the rest of us Filipinos, it’s a piece that may be useful in our puzzle toward self-understanding. For non-Filipinos, I hope they read the appendix and understand this is not an account of all Filipinos and thus do not unknowingly inaccurately use this as a basis for generalizing.
Profile Image for Hana Gabrielle (HG) Bidon.
176 reviews7 followers
March 24, 2023
Rating: 4.5 stars

I loved how well-written and relatable this book is because I also questioned whether or not I am Asian or Asian American enough for people. My Filipino and Asian identities have been questioned by Asians and non-Asians alike and the fact that this book features multiple Filipinos who have experienced the same thing makes me feel less lonely. I especially resonated with one of the Filipinos who majored in Biology and felt underrepresented in her field as she was pre-med in her undergraduate years. Similarly, I majored in Information Science and felt underrepresented even amongst the sea of Asians since most of them were East and South Asians. There was a disconnect between East Asians and Southeast Asians. I also got made fun of for being Filipino and was deemed inferior by one former East Asian friend. That being said, I wish that the author got Filipinos from different parts of the United States like the East Coast and beyond California. I think that would've improved the book a lot and I love it so much already.
Profile Image for Eileen.
142 reviews
June 11, 2021
Many of the topics and ideas discussed in this book were resonated deep within me. But some topics and ideas seemed foreign to me. More of a "west coast" Filipino phenomena vs "east coast" Filipino. I didn't see the same under representation of Filipinos in the sciences or engineering. His sample group of 85 young adults seemed too small and focused on only 2 cities. I would love to see similar studies with midwest or east coast Filipinos. Much of his research seemed anecdotal (based on varying stories and not presenting the actual data) The last chapter did a good job of tying it all together so I give it 3 stars rounded up to 3.5 stars. If he does another book that also includes a sample from other areas (midwest and east coast) I'd probably give that book a solid 4 stars.
Profile Image for Brett.
5 reviews
January 5, 2022
this was a very enriching read on fil-am identity, otherness, and panethnic solidarity with latinx and asian populations. i learned so much about filipino history, colonial influences on fil-am culture, and bittersweet comfort in knowing it was common for many fil-am people to be so disconnected from filipino culture (i.e., a large majority of second gen fil-ams not being taught tagalog/native dialects by their immigrant parents, pressures of U.S. assimilation, etc)

even in feeling seen, a large part of the book outlined completely unfamiliar experiences as being these encompassing experiences that all fil-ams in the US face. indeed, ocampo's ethnographic research solely resides in los angeles, ca – a state that is home to the largest population of filipinos in the US. this west coast centricity was frustrating throughout the entire book and invisibilizes the rich diversity of fil-am experiences in the rest of the country.

despite these limitations, the novel is a key insight into the current interplay of fil-am's history and present and a great starting point for better understanding the fluidity found in filipino identity.
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