New project! This is the first experiment of exploring books on the podcast. I’ll be giving an overview Leny Strobel’s Coming Full Circle: The Process of Decolonization Among Post-1965 Filipino Americans. This is a pivotal book in FilAm literature and it has a lot of wisdom and lessons within it. It’s an informal overview, with specific quotes thrown in to highlight the main takeaways.

Coming Full Circle is a project of decolonization based off interviews with post-1965 Filipino Americans . Through a process that Strobel calls “fishing for knowledge” through books and interviews, she organizes themes of decolonization under the categories of Naming, Reflection, and Action. This framework is greatly influenced by Paulo Friere and his idea that oppressed peoples need to name the source of their oppression before they can enact change upon it. 11 generative themes of decolonization are presented, alongside a literature review of relevant material and research.

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Listed below are direct quotes from the book. Please support by buying a copy!

Chapter 1

Fishing: A Filipino Woman’s Way of Constructing Knowledge

  • “When I arrived in the U.S. in 1983 I didn’t know that it would be the end of the “little brown sister” era of my life. Like many Filipinos who have imbibed Hollywood images of the “good life,” I had dreamt of coming to live in the white man’s land. My assumptions about America were shaped by a colonial education that glorified everything white and American. I mastered English, the medium of this education, while the two Filipino languages I spoke, Tagalog and Pampango, and their accents were quickly traded in, hoping that I may win the master’s approval.”

“What is the relationship between imperialism and missionary work? Didn’t missionaries bring their own western cultural baggage to the people they “ministered” to?

“Freire (1970) wrote that by preaching sin and hell, churches appeal to the fatalistic and frightened consciousness of the oppressed. The promise of heaven becomes a relief for their existential fatigue. ”

“The conspiracy of silence amongst the oppressed, for fear of being blamed if we ever admitted failure or discrimination in America – the land of opportunity, continues to be perpetuated to this day as many immigrant Filipinos in the U.S. continue to regale their loved ones in the Philippines with stories of success and affluence while keeping quiet about their lack of sense of belonging and marginalization in this country.”

“individual self-actualization is not enough if it does not translate into action. Facing the fear and shame of oppression requires that we build communities of resistance” (referencing Thich Nhat Hanh in bell hooks, 1993)

“I must look deep within the collective memory of our cultural strength and indigenous imagination for the answers.”

“The healing of the self means the healing of the family”

“Kabilang na rito ang ibang Pilipino na hindi pa nakakaahon sa kanilang isipang kolonyal, na patuloy pa ring naniniwala na ang kanilang kultura ay hamak at walang pag-asang umunlad at magbago”

“Sometimes, it is other Filipinos who challenge this identity, especially those who have not yet escaped their colonized consciousness, and therefore continue to believe that Filipinos come from an impoverished culture, without hope or progress or change”

“May the sun split my body into halves and may my womenfolk heap their hatred on me should I ever be a friend of the Castillian!” – said the tribal king of Macabebe to Legazpi, the Spanish governor, hundreds of years ago”

“For a long time, I suffered from cultural amnesia. I was unconscious about my cultural identity. I thought I belonged to a tribe called “little brown sisters” ruled by the “big white masters.” The masters gave me their tongue, their ideas, their music, art forms, and their religion. They said the world I come from was dark, full of evil spirits, and they had brought the light with them to chase the ghosts away. With this light, they also chased away my memories. They said they had a divine right to conquer us and make us more human by cleaning up our slate and write new thoughts on it. And so without memories, I forgot who I was. I became a good colonial child. I became well-mannered, genteel, and civilized”

“ I sang about snow and cornfields and chestnuts roasting on the open fire without ever having seen snow, cornfields, or chestnuts.”

“To return home is to return to the ancient, to our anitos and our ancestors, to folklore and oral traditions which contain the indigeneous wisdom of my people”

“They say we are a people who lived in a convent for 300 years and 50 years in Hollywood. Perhaps on the outside, it seems so. But underneath this veneer, the ancient spirits never died, the anitos never slept. We are a people that has managed to survive the harsh consequences of our enslavement. Perhaps we owe it to the strength of our indigenous imagination, which even in its repression manages to show its colorful side from time to time.”

“How can the colonizer give that which he doesn’t have? He is not free. He is not whole. For if he was, then he would not have needed to destroy others who were not like him”

“This is what decolonization taught me: the present is all I have. Yes, I understand the past, I have grieved over it, forgave it, and this moment, the present – is a gift from the past. It is perfect just as it is. There is nothing I could do about yesterday and nothing I can do about tomorrow. Today is all I have.”

“Yet no sooner have I declared this love for my Filipino self that I am once again criticized for being nostalgic or romantic about a past that can never be returned to/recovered/reclaimed. I am accused of essentializing my ethnic identity and I am told that in the postmodern global era, the definition of culture and ethnic identity are empty spaces incapable of holding up to any notion of authenticity. I am told that when I talk about the healing of traumatic memory, of reclaiming the Filipino cultural self that was repressed and denied, that I am appealing to some framework that pathologizes the very identity that I want to liberate”

Chapter 2

A historical overview and study.

“Through the critical analysis of historical events, in this case, the colonization of the Philippines, and the interconnectedness of these events to the lived experience and their personal and social consequences to Filipino Americans, a framework emerges that could serve as a model for de-centering colonial mentality.”

“Community empowerment and political empowerment are critically linked in strengthening Filipino American identity. Decolonization, as consciousness-raising, facilitates empowerment at the personal level”

“Filipino Americans must be able to identify their source of agency, which lies in their recovery of indigenous knowledge and finding therein symbolic meaning that will be useful for decolonization. These Filipino indigenous knowledge and cultural values, which were repressed and submerged under colonization, need to be reclaimed, re-imagined, or re-created in order to recover a strong sense of Filipino identity.” (to emerge from the culture of silence)

“This study, ultimately, is about reconciliation and healing. It is about coming full circle, and finding a home and a voice of one’s own”

“The classical assimilation model of immigration history is no longer sufficient to understand Filipino immigration”

“the educational system, together with American popular culture, was instrumental in forming a generation of middle-class, urban, and educated Filipinos whose values were very much influenced by the colonial educational system and American popular culture”

“The mostly single Filipino male population was subjected to discrimination and were labeled as “immoral and a threat to society” because they were dating and marrying white women. This false and generalized representation of the Filipino male as “immoral and a threat to society,”

“After the Philippine American War, many of the American soldiers who used to sing “educate them with a Krag” (the standard army rifle of that day) assumed the role of teachers. William Howard Taft believed that the best way to “pacify” the Filipino was to “ educate” him”

“The Americanization of educational institutions in the Philippines produced the local elite and alienated the masses”

“Nemesio Prudente, calls the educational system “irrelevant because of its colonial nature which serves neocolonial interest and does not coordinate with the economy and manpower requirements of the Philippines”

“The educational institutions during this period became an instrument of instilling the idea that American ideas, culture, and educational system were superior to the cultural and educational legacies of Spanish colonization and the indigenous Filipino culture”

“One could also read Woodson’s Miseducation of the Negro (1933) and draw parallels between the Filipino experience and African American educational experience at an earlier period.”

“When oppressed people learn to unravel and discover the ‘whys’ in the fabric in which their objectification and dehumanization were given, they will also find their liberation.”

“dominant knowledge is constructed and reproduced by the dominant system in order to perpetuate their power positions to the exclusions of its “others”


  • “has the following basic characteristics: a) the structure is not pre-determined, b) the researcher and participants have a mutual and equal relationship, and c) the beginning, middle, and end of the process is flexible (Pe-Pua, 1990)”

“Establishing respectful and equal interpersonal relationship is necessary to build trust which in turn ensures the accuracy and reliability of the data”

“knowledge is created by talking and doing things together so that both the participants and researcher get connected in ways that creates critical knowledge”

“Decolonization as Re-rooting: Challenging the Soil You Want to Sink Roots In” paper by Leny Strobel

“all the “voices” that are emerging from the culture of silence need to be heard”

“The study of the process of decolonization must include all of the dimensions of one’s experience: memories, feelings, attitudes, values, knowledge, doubts, and fears.”

Chapter 3

Fishing for Knowledge

A literature review in four parts.

Four Main Categories of Sources

  1. the ideological assumptions of US imperialism and expansion in Asia
  2. important contemporary works by post-colonial critics outside of the Philippines
  3. Filipino perspective on decolonization
  4. interdisciplinary works in the field of orality/literacy studies

“In the racialized imagination of European colonialists, the “other” was primitive, barbaric, and uncivilized and therefore deserved to be ruled. As will be clear later, the U.S. expansion in Asia is very much undergirded by this ideology.”

“Mark Twain saw the betrayal of the Philippines by the U.S. government as a betrayal of American institutions: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. In calling for an end to the Philippine American war, and calling it a war of “criminal aggression,” he also saw it as a reflection of a “household on fire.” The values of liberty and freedom contained in the Declaration and the Constitution were betrayed in the U.S. policy on the Philippines.”

“Post-colonial literature seeks to separate itself from the “privileged” norm of English literature, which represents the imperial center, by questioning the ideological assumptions of this hegemonic literature.”

“They discovered that marginality could be a great source of creative energy.”

“A classic example of this ethnography is the St. Louis World Exposition in 1906, where a whole tribe of indigenous Filipinos, the Igorots, were put on display in stages of evolution: from primitive, dog-eating, g-string clad bodies, to western-dressed, poised, brown bodies, symbolizing the triumph of the U.S.’ “civilizing mission.”

“Ethnographers realized that their classic narrations failed to take into account the influence of their positionality on the interpretations of their subjects and have likewise erased the possibility of their subjects to speak for themselves”

“By understanding how colonization, after centuries of accommodating the colonizer’s culture, has made the native internalize his own oppression, the colonized must now learn how to separate himself from the master.” (summarizing Fanon 1963)


  • “Freire’s pedagogy emphasizes that only the oppressed can liberate themselves when they learn to “name” the objective reality of their oppression.”
  • “By naming the social and political structures and the people that maintain these structures, the oppressed would be able to identify how they have internalized their own oppression.”
  • “Freire’s view of religion as an instrument of creating false consciousness is important and instructive, particularly in understanding colonial situations where religion was a main instrument of colonization, as in the case of the Philippines ”
  • “Religion, as an instrument of colonialism, gives the oppressed a false sense of superiority over their masters which in turn leads them to focus on a “life beyond” and consequently, fail to address the unjust social structures that oppress them by seeing them as mundane.”
  • “Having been conditioned to become dependent on the false generosity of the oppressor, the oppressed become fearful of becoming responsible for themselves.”


  • “Jung was influenced by the Romantic period which reacted against the rationalism of the Enlightenment.”
  • “Neglected psychic needs look for external compensation. Jungian psychology finds that there is a correlation between psychological insecurity, anxiety, and fear with the demand for security, order, and force.”
  • “A colonized person who is unaware of these projections and who responds by the accommodation of these projections is what Freire, Fanon, Memmi, and Nandy refer to as internalization of oppression or identification with the colonizer or playing host to the oppressor. These shadowy projections need to be rejected by the colonized; the latter cannot expect the colonizer to withdraw these projections willingly because the colonizer will not willingly relinquish his power and privilege”
  • “failure to do so results in the identification with the colonizer so that the colonized begins to act like a colonizer and projects to others of his own kind but maybe of a lower social or economic class, the same projections he has internalized, perpetuating the colonization process”

“The project of decolonization for the colonized individual is a process of learning to love one’s self again, of seeing one’s self as important enough to think and write about, of learning to face the truth and learning to tell the truth”

“Learn to face and tell the truth. Learn critical affirmation. Have a vocation, a sense of calling . Lessen stress. Be healthy. Overcome addictions and co-dependency. Learn creative dreaming and thinking; create new images and self representations. Deal with grief. Develop a passionate life. Love your body. Learn to love. Live in community. Let go of bitterness. Love the Earth, love your ancestors. Practice spirituality.” (Sisters of the Yam, 1993 hooks, thirteen steps that must be integrated towards a wholistic self-recovery)

“The healing process is simultaneously an individual and communal effort. What is summoned from the depths of one’s soul comes from the wounded collective memory of colonized peoples, but so does the healing power that comes from woundedness”

“In the U.S., ethnic groups and their “exotic” cultural practices (dances, food, festivals, rituals) are appropriated or consumed like “spice” to the blandness of white America”

“Even as ethnic groups “display” their cultural practices for cultural tourists, the same practices are also a medium for remembering their ethnic memories. Ethnic memory sustains ethnic identity” (hooks, 1992)

“The national memory of America often marginalizes racial and ethnic groups but the ethnic memory serves as a powerful counternarrative. Ethnic memory is not about nostalgia. It is not about mythologizing a destroyed past or the return to a pristine, pre-colonial culture. Ethnic memory is about the construction of new identities out of the painful experiences of the past.”

“As counter-narrative, ethnic memory always tries to maintain at the center of national memory what the dominant group would like to forget”

“Renato Constantino is a Philippine historian and social critic. In 1966, he wrote The Miseducation of the Filipino which has become a landmark essay for decolonization. In this essay”

“The public school system with English as medium of instruction, together with the “glorification of the American way of life, its heroes and institutions” produced an Americanized Filipino consciousness.”

“Filipino consciousness under the Americans was a further deepening of the colonial consciousness that the Spaniards had implanted”

“Other Filipino historians like Teodoro Agoncillo have assumed that it was impossible to write the real history of the Filipino people under Spain because the colonizer wrote and produced all materials”

“In “Boat Building and Seamanship,” Scott documents Filipino expertise in boatbuilding, their nautical skills, and the importance of seafaring life in the Philippines and reveals the intricate structure and complex trading practices among Filipinos prior to Spanish conquest”

“De Los Reyes was a writer, publisher, printer, businessman, and the “common ingredient” of all his activities, from “folklore to politics, was a sheer rejoicing in things Filipino.”

“ It never occurred to de los Reyes that the Filipino was racially inferior to anyone. His activities led him to prison and then to exile in Madrid. When he returned, the Americans had taken over and before long he was campaigning for a jury system, universal suffrage, and labor laws to liberate workers from economic dependence and docility. He resumed writing against anti-American imperialism, became a senator, and to the end of his life, remained a minority voice among a people who have “learned to dance to a new tune with lyrics imported from abroad” (a lengthy essay written by Scott, talking about Isabelo de los Reyes)

sikolohiyang mapagpalaya

“Pagkataong Pilipino , therefore, refers to the psychology of kapwa or shared identity of Filipinos.”

“The core concepts of kapwa (shared identity), loob (shared humanity), damdam (capacity to feel for another), paninindigan (strength of conviction) are more descriptive of Filipino values than those previously asserted by an earlier Western-trained group of Filipino social scientists who claimed that hiya (sense of shame), utang na loob (gratitude/reciprocity), amor propio (self-esteem), and pakikisama (smooth interpersonal relations) are Filipino values.”

“diwa (psyche) of Filipinos, one must look at the indigenous cultures and what survives of their songs, chants, epics, dances, rituals and other folk traditions”

“To discover the true Filipino, one must go to the local culture, instead of looking at Manila or Makati for a definition of what is Filipino”

“Indigenization is the attempt to reclaim Filipino cultural values by centering the Filipino self as a reference to the “other” without creating rigid boundaries between that self and other”

“Alejo claims that the “weakness” of Filipino culture lies in the refusal to struggle with the language because under colonization, the language was devalued, repressed, and negated.” (Alejo 1990)

“the effects of colonization and how, with only borrowed consciousness, Filipinos have been lost without access to their own language, to their own philosophy.” (Alejo)

“Filipino Catholicism is still one that appeals to the gods for inner strength (lakas ng loob) rather than one that asks for salvation or release from guilt” (Maggay)

“the instrument of colonial control, the pasyon , was used creatively and indigenously to create a language of dissent for the peasant revolutionaries.”

“English language has been the medium of empire building and literature its handmaiden”

“If we can give the Filipino husbandman a knowledge of the English language and only the most elemental acquiantance of English writings, we will free him from that degraded dependence upon the man of influence of his own race” (from the US Philippine Commission in 1905)

“How can Filipinos, who have been educated in a foreign language, express indigenous thoughts without equivalence in the foreign culture? While their thinking structure and mental processes remained indigenous, they were made to express their ideas in a foreign tongue. The imposition of a foreign language implied the inferiority of the native language(s) of Filipinos and reduced Filipinos to imitation, parody and subservience.”

“America Is in the Heart (1946), written by Carlos Bulosan, remains in the canon, not only of Asian American literature, but of post-colonial literature and multicultural literature”

“The book chronicles the life of Filipino laborers, their life of despair and depravity as they are relegated to the margins and made to live the life of the drunk, the criminal, the hustler, the thief”

“These college students are instrumental in bringing this knowledge home, so to speak and this is creating a ripple effect in the community in the Bay Area”

“Cultural Studies claim that it is not enough to recognize and respect difference; it must show how culture is a site of ideological struggle.”

“arrogant perception” — a compensatory way of trying to feel good about one’s self by looking down on other people” (Lugones)

“Imperialism and colonialism, as ideologies, accompanied by a transcendent belief in “manifest destiny,” were powerful partners in the domination of Filipinos. ”

“The re-telling is, therefore, a process of imagining and creating a new story, a useful fiction, so to speak, in order for the story to become a source of empowerment through a new way of looking at history. Re-telling, therefore, sets free the over-determined aspects of Filipino colonial history .”

“If language is the site of ideological struggle, it can also be a site of negotiation. Language can become an oppositional force and an affirmative force; it can create new ways of reading history through the reconstruction of suppressed memories. Therefore, language can also create new identities capable of challenging the conditions that negate the voices, desires, and histories of silenced peoples.”

“ The narratives that came out of Europe were universalized and rendered transcendent and, therefore, became narratives that sustained European colonialism and imperialism around the world”

“The belief that “other” cultures are primitive and barbaric because they were not “like Europe” is an example of a narrative that puts the European “I” at the center of power and all others on the margins.”

“Postmodernism, on the other hand, asserts that the discourse from the margins (which includes women) should be made central and visible in order to make difference and diversity as the norm.”

“Postcolonial critics also mention that postmodernism fails to address the need of oppressed cultures to construct narratives or redemption and emancipation.”

“As a border intellectual himself, Freire emphasizes literacy as the act of knowing; knowing leads to the ability of the oppressed to “decode” the oppressive structures of their world; and is followed by action that demands a social transformation.”

The Re-emergence of Orality

“Orality studies provide another context for articulating and legitimizing Filipino narratives on decolonization”

“Orality studies provide another context for articulating and legitimizing Filipino narratives on decolonization”

“Although there hardly exist any purely oral cultures today, there are many residually oral cultures, cultures which have made the transition to literacy but have retained the mindset of primary orality”

“Modern consciousness, shaped by the dominance of the written word, made possible the opening up of the psyche giving way to articulate introspection and precise verbalization by freeing the word from its context” (Ong 1982)

“the audience participates in a form of communal introspection making knowledge a shared property”

“oral cultures use formulaic expressions: sayings, proverbs, and clichés as repository of wisdom.” (Tannen 1982)

“information is often not stated explicitly because truth is assumed to lie in experience, which in turn is verified by the experiences of its listeners”

“different from literate cultures where the written text is authoritative source of meaning and may not always have the benefit of the immediacy of the context”

“The memories may belong to every person in the community but the content and the language is communally shared; these become expressions of a group’s tradition and identity. Memory is built up by repetition, recall and recollection.”

“Oral cultures encourage fluency, fulsomeness of speech;”

“To take as your yardstick the present circumstances in western Europe and to assume that this is the standard that all literatures should be judged is to show a lack of historical and comparative perspective” (Finnegan 1988)

“oral literary forms also express insight, understanding, and truth. Society has learned to equate literature with intellectual thought and therefore orality (equated with “primitiveness”) was judged as incapable of intellectual thought. This is one of the mistaken assumptions about orality” (Finnegan 1988)

“Orality and literacy, therefore, are not two independent things, they take different forms at different times and contexts, and they mutually interact and affect each other.”

“In order to approximate the oral mode of thought and feeling, English in the Philippines has been nativized to express the Filipino heart, mind and soul”

“Filipino writers and scholars should be going to the hills to dig up the folklore and traditions that could give flesh to our national consciousness” (Azurin 1993)

“Although there are still those who would push for English as a force for national unity, the writers resisting this trend realize that English only serves as an umbilical cord to the colonizer”

“the post-1965 “brain drain” very quickly shifted to English and thus Filipino language was not maintained amongst the children of this group”

“Colonial education and its literate intentions destroys memory, a people’s epics, chanted choruses and other ritualized performances and their meanings are forgotten”

“Literacy, controlled by imperial power, and its value judgment about what is “primitive” and “civilized” replaced the oral world, (the cyclic, ordered, paradigmatic), with the written word”

“Paradoxically, in decolonization, the appropriation of written discourse, becomes a necessary tool for deconstructing the narratives of colonialism and for recovering orality.”

Chapter 4

Cooking and Eating the Fish: Generative Themes and Analysis

An analysis of the narratives and interviews.

“The narratives show that decolonization is: a) a search for cognitive knowledge about Filipino and Filipino American history and culture; b) a positive confrontation with the emotional aspects of this process; and, c) a search for a new way of constructing knowledge in a language that weaves together the various aspects of decolonization”

decolonization is a project of “digging up memories from one’s personal history and mining these memories as a new source of meaning”

Eleven Generative Themes

  • The Affective Content of Decolonization
  • The Power of Naming and Telling
  • The Role of Language
  • The Need for Filipino Cultural and Historical Knowledge
  • The Role of Memory
  • Imagining the Filipino American Community: New Expectations and Visions
  • The Process of Building Community Institutions
  • The Generational Responsibilities
  • Educational Expectations
  • The Gender Issue
  • The Role of Filipino Spirituality”

The Affective Content of Decolonization

“Decolonization allowed participants to name and acknowledge their feelings of denial, shame, insecurity, loneliness, and inferiority about being Filipino”

“Then there was me, the “non-FOB,” who spoke perfect English, born and raised here, had only white friends …I was “white” in every way except for the color of my skin, my nose and eyes” … “I chose the easy way of living, never challenging the preconceptions set up by Western culture” (Marissa)

“you should have some peace in your heart to nurture the culture that you know would be good for the community” (Luz)

The Power of Naming and Telling

“Freire says that liberation begins with the naming of the world. The oppressed need to be able to name the social and political structures that dominate them and keep them silenced; they need to become aware of how the dominating structures create the marginal and inferior “other.”

“I think we need to decolonize because we often think of ourselves as inferior to white people. For so long, we have failed to recognize our own culture” (Peter)

“Naming is a process of becoming visible to one’s self and being able to locate one’s self within a historical context.”

“Decolonization is the ability to narrate one’s story in a manner that makes sense and makes meaning out of all the experiences of the past”

“The story of the self contains the narrative of the nation. To tell one’s story is to allow the fragments of consciousness to be sutured, allowing the narrative to flow again.”

The Role of Language

“I resented Philippine-born who tried to speak in accent-less English, yet I resented the very same people who spoke to me in Tagalog, thinking it was obnoxious for them to assume that I knew the language” (Marissa)

“Laurie says that her father “never wanted me near the language; he said that if I learned to speak Tagalog, my English will be hindered and I will not succeed in my education”

“I believe that language is a carrier of the culture because it is a way of thinking; [if you understand the language] then you begin to understand why they think what they think; but you need to understand the idioms, the connotations of the language.” (Michelle)

“The Filipino indirect communication pattern has been identified as pahiwatig: evocative ways of expressing the need or want of something. Pahiwatig is understood as being grounded on the value of pakikiramdam: keen sensitivity to a complex of verbal and non-verbal cues interacting within a given communication context, and pakikipagkapwa-tao : to feel one with the other” (Maggay 1995)

“As Michelle states, “to know the language is to understand how and why a people think the way they do.”

“A newly arrived immigrant who speaks a variety of Filipino English can be discriminated against by other Filipinos who speak fluent “standard” English because the former’s language is often associated with inferiority, lack of intelligence, and “other-ness.”

“The language of decolonization, as a language of resistance against the grand narratives that have been hegemonic, is difficult to articulate in the early stages of decolonization because there is a built-in resistance to change”

“one must question how accessible these are to Filipino Americans outside of academe. Freire’s emphasis on theory and praxis presents a challenge”

The Need for Filipino Cultural and Historical Knowledge

“The invisibility of Philippine history in the participants’ education in the U.S. has consequences for one’s self-perception, just as critically as the loss of the Filipino language”

“I was so busy reading about a culture that existed outside my home that I was not aware of the beauty that existed in our home” (Teresa)

“The awareness of the constructed nature of knowledge demystifies the colonial and dominant narratives that are written in “authoritative” historical texts. When the colonized realize that they too can construct knowledge, it is a liberating idea”

“Sources of knowledge and wisdom such as folk sayings, proverbs, stories, myths and folklore, songs, dances, and humor, have not been considered as legitimate sources of knowledge in the colonial culture”

“The participants agreed that most of the selected programs are not educational; they merely reinforce nostalgia, and perpetuate colonial mentality.” (about TFC)

“On Filipino television and movies, you see light-skinned people represent the Filipino. If the actors and actresses have dark complexions, they are the comedians or they play the role of the ugly monsters” (Cheryl)

“Decolonization makes it possible to create counter-narratives that displaces the dominating narratives which perpetuate internal oppression and silence”

“As a social event, eating together fosters a deep connection with Filipino culture, much the same way that language does”

The Role of Memory

“Myths, folktales, proverbs, folkbeliefs, songs, poems, epics, rituals, humor—are teaching tools, in an oral culture, for how to live with Nature, with other people, and with the spirit world. Filipinos are residually oral (Alaras, 1993; Strobel, 1994), even with the perceived high rates of literacy because of the American patterned-educational system”

“The process of reclaiming Filipino history as a counter narrative to the history written by outsiders, becomes a process of reclaiming one’s memory: memories that were submerged because they were considered unimportant, inconsequential, and memories that were negated because of the internalized self-hatred of the colonial psyche”

“To reclaim memory at the personal level, is to engage in the process of creating a collective memory with a people’s history”

“The past is, in a sense, gone forever, there is no pure, pre-colonial Filipino culture to return to. However, in memory and remembering, a Filipino American can reclaim and appropriate anew the indigenous traditions in a symbolic way”

“When we speak our memories and document them, we are engaged in an act of construction of our present worlds. Our individual and collective memories help construct the reality of the present” (McLaughlin,D. & Tierney,W., 1993, p.2).”

Imagining the Filipino American Community: New Expectations and Visions

“Decolonization is really just the starting point for community building.”

“Unity” is a kind of narrative that obscures the heterogeneous reality of any group”

“What is being asked of you is not to lose sight of the parent culture. You have your own struggles within the U.S. context of racial politics, but you must also help in the political and cultural education of Filipino immigrants” (Luz)

“the purpose of decolonization is not to save others, but to understand and have a critical consciousness”

“Cultural and community work can mean a certain level of isolation. The participants will need to know that they are not alone; they need to develop support networks and a deep level of trust for their internal processes and in other Filipino Americans who are on the same journey with them.”

“Think about do-able pieces rather than the whole because if you try to tackle the big issues it will be difficult to act.” (Luz)

The Process of Building Community Institutions

“Related to the creation of new expectations and visions is the process of building community institutions”

“Critical consciousness must implicate the centers of power, making that power visible and subject to contestation”

The Generational Responsibilities

“To see their parents within a historical framework shifts from the sense of blame (Why didn’t you maintain the language? Why didn’t I know about this (historical events)? Why didn’t you teach me?), to understanding (Now I understand why my parents are the way they are; why they think and believe the way they think). Family relationships are healed and deepened, dialogue happens.”

“They didn’t always think it was important to get their citizenship but with all the laws that were being proposed against immigrants, they realized it was important to attain their citizenship.” (Cheryl)

“Decolonization for Filipino American college students also means to recognize the construction of their parents’ experience in America, as well as their own” (Luz)

Educational Excpectations

“Filipino American students need teachers who will understand their experience, who will make needed resources from non-traditional sources available”

“Lived experiences must be considered as valid sources of knowledge that must be conceptualized and theorized about, made visible in texts, in recognition of the fact that they live in a culture that still considers the printed word as highly authoritative”

The Gender Issue

“When the father is present in the narrative, his influence does not seem as positive as the mother’s and the participants talked mostly about their mother’s influence in their lives. Is this because the home is traditionally the mother’s domain”

The Role of Filipino Spirituality

“Filipino Catholicism is an appeal to the gods for inner strength (lakas ng loob) rather than an appeal for salvation or release from guilt”

“How then can we reconcile the acceptance, devotion of [our] parents to the Catholic religion, in particular, the worship of saints with Caucasian features?”

“the coercive tactics of colonization pressured Filipinos to accommodate the forms of Catholicism. But it did not transform the indigenous consciousness. Filipino indigenous consciousness is more animistic and polytheistic and at home in the spirit world and its multiple god”


“Naming is a powerful act because it creates awareness and a language for expressing the deeply felt intuitions that were always lurking just below the surface of the psyche”

“Filipino language maintenance provides the needed cultural continuity between generations and with the homeland”

“to understand the language is to understand why Filipinos think the way they think; the language expresses the culture.”

“The acquisition of Filipino cultural and historical knowledge is very important in decolonization”

“The Filipino story has always been told and written by outsiders who imposed their frames of references on Filipinos. To counter these narrations, decolonization recovers the history of a people through the recovery of cultural memory. To decolonize is to put together the dis-membered past in order to make sense of the trauma of the present” (Bhaba 1990)

“To know that Filipinos have a tradition of resistance, heroes, martyrs, heroines, a well-developed oral literature, and a spiritual connection to the Creator, to Nature, and to all created beings, is to know that those narratives of being “other,” i.e. primitive, inferior, uncivilized, not-as-good-as, and other narratives from the outside were lies told to silence and dominate.”

“Unity is often a euphemism for control, a means to confine and contain the elements of a society that do not fit into the definition of “American”

“Decolonization, as healing and as transformation of consciousness, results in changed relationships”

Chapter 5

Where Do We Go From Here?

“Decolonization means to reconnect with the past in order to understand the present and to be able to envision the future. These three—past, present, and future, on another level of consciousness co-exist simultaneously. The past is in the present, and the future is already being born in the present. Decolonization is a process that makes the mythical and historical past available to the present”

“The decolonized consciousness feels deeply the spiritual connection to one’s kapwa (fellow beings), making it possible to identify with one’s people and history in spite of personal, generational, educational, economic, class, and other forms of differences.”

“To understand that culture is a site of ideological struggle is to develop the ability to become a bordercrosser, in order to build coalitions with other oppressed groups, and use one’s position as a starting point for dialogue with people similarly located.”

“Naming the world, as participants said, changes a lot of things; it changes one’s perception of reality”

“As the participants learn to fill the gaps in their knowledge about Filipino and Filipino American history and culture, they are also able to imagine a future, healing the cultural amnesia and sense of shame about being Filipino and Filipino American.”

“The decolonization process must relate to the understanding of the Filipino diaspora in all parts of the world, and to the multicultural context of the U.S”

Naming-Reflection-Action Framework

“The framework below summarizes these patterns and commonalities through the framework of Naming, Reflection, and Action”


  • To decolonize is to be able to name internalized oppression, shame, inferiority, confusion, anger.
  • To decolonize is to acquire cognitive knowledge about Filipino culture and history.
  • To decolonize is to understand the meaning of “loss of cultural memory” and its consequences.
  • To decolonize is to understand how the loss of language affects Filipino identity.
  • To decolonize is to heal the self, heal the culture.
  • To decolonize is to name the oppressor and the oppressive social structures.
  • To decolonize is to recognize the orality of Filipino culture.”


  • To decolonize is to develop the ability to question one’s reality as constructed by colonial narratives.
  • To decolonize is to develop critical consciousness that can understand the consequences of silence and invisibility,
  • To decolonize is to understand the need to recover memory.
  • To decolonize is to understand the generational gap as being constituted by historical realities that shape each generations’ experiences.
  • To decolonize is to understand ideological struggles within a multicultural context and the relationships of power within these struggles.
  • To decolonize is to understand the need for connection with the parent culture.
  • To decolonize is to ask: where do I go from here?”


  • To decolonize is to decide to give back to the Filipino American community.
  • To decolonize is to learn to question.
  • To decolonize is to support and become involved in developing community institutions.
  • To decolonize is to take leadership positions in moving the Filipino American community towards visibility and empowerment.
  • To decolonize is to tell and write one’s story, that in the telling and writing, others may be encouraged to tell their own.”

“This study reveals that when the participants become critically conscious and learn to question their family experiences, they see the positive contributions of their parents and families to the decolonization process, as in, for example, the passing on of cultural practices and beliefs, in unconscious and conscious ways, to their children”

“The participants noted that the images and representations of Filipino and Filipino American culture in Filipino/Filipino American media still reflects to a large degree, a colonized mentality”

“This again, also relates to the need to build community institutions which support Filipino/Filipino American artists, writers/journalists, cultural workers and community advocates.”

“For teachers to teach an anti-racist curriculum, they must be able to question their own whiteness as an invisible category”

“Teachers must not “speak for” students but learn to “speak with,” thus avoiding what Freire calls “false charity.”

“This study has made many Filipino American issues visible by naming them: internal oppression, shame, anger, betrayal, invisibility, doubts, fear, hope, healing, and new visions”

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