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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Philippines: Latin America in Asia?

I have always wondered whether the Philippines has a lot in common with South American countries because of the obvious facts: having been colonies of Spain, and ending up in poverty after the colonial era. Later on, I found a study by a visiting professor that stated that the Philippines is only Asian in location; in everything else, it is a Latin American country.

Link to a pdf paper by Robert Nelson

Tough Riddle (Inquirer Article)

I have to very much agree with this assertion. Nelson's points are logical. Argentina's Juan and Evita Peron mirror Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, who became dictators and bullcrapped their countries to shreds. South America is mostly Catholic with some weird devotions, like us. Many tried democracy though fumbling in the end, like us. In the end, the problem is in culture.

There certainly is a lot in common between the Philippines and Latin America. It makes we wonder whether Filipinos should look to Latin American history and recent developments to see whether they can learn something. Some people point that we are very different and such a comparison should not be made, and we're Asian and should follow Asian culture, but but hey, that just doesn't apply easily. The only thing different is that we are in a different continent, and that we were under the direct control of the United States after Spain.

Nelson even points to many cultural factors that include the cultural items planted by Spain. I agree. We have Spanish Pride, Amor Propio, and all that other baloney Spain gave us. We have false values given us by Spanish culture of the 19th century, when it was a bullcrap imperialist power. Many today would blame America for the Philippines' problems, but I don't see it compute. Old Spain is to blame. Of course, Spain can't be held accountable today because they've changed since then; but still, many items of Spanish 19th century culture carry on to today. Those should be weeded out so that we can see better, more responsible people and better cultural behavior. Of course, there are native aspects we may have to fix too. Just refer to my earlier posts about colonial mentality and the prehispanic Filipino for more information.

Yes, Philippines culture is to blame for most of our country's failures, including the economic side. I suggested studying Latin America to see how they did, because it seems that the countries there are doing better than us! But conservatives will find that a problem since most of Latin America is mostly leftist! But the answer to that is see just how their problems were addressed - solved or not - and see how we can solve ours, not to take everything that Latin America did. But obviously, the current government's solutions are not working.

One obvious difference is that most business in our country is run by Chinese (typical Filipino businessmen can't run a business properly, my observation). So that's one of our links to Asia. But also, these Chinese hate mainland China - that's why they're here. Why? They hate the bullcrap Chinese dictatorial government - look at what it's doing in Tibet. And yet many Pinoys hate them because they're "kuripot" (i.e. They know how to handle their money)? It's time to shape up.

But still, Spanish tradition holds us captive. Let's shake off these shackles and forward culturally. That Spanish may have been responsible for the creation of the Philippines, but we are responsible for today and the future. Time to let go of the past.


  1. i like your post..... as a filipino.. have learned and truly believe that we r not asians but rather latin americans... gracias

  2. Actually, we are filipinos with Latino influences... lets not really forget who we really are. We are the only latin colony and kept our own. Some may consider us as latinos but I think I'm happy and proud to be Filipino. We are not completely asians yet we are not completely latinos... therefore, we are Filipinos :)

  3. I believe we have spanish influences as well as asian, dominantly latin. But, at the same time we are Filipinos. We are the only spanish colony that stuck to our own, somehow I feel that we are the downfall of Spain lol. We are a little bit of everything, from african(negrito, ifugao, igorots.. etc.. etc...) to the Latin and Asian influence. Yet we are our own. My friends are mostly latinos and they consider us latinos pero.... I still say, I'm filipina and very proud of it. :)

  4. Filipinos are very much Latin. :)
    I appreciated that more when I moved to London and met Spaniards and Latin Americans. There're just so many things in common!!

    I've always felt different if not insecure back in Asia. Putting us side by side with the Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian cultures with stronger Asian identity increases this insecurity all the more.

    But now I understand that we really are different and that we have brothers at the other side of the world that we can relate to more.

  5. We are Asians by location??? True, but only culture. We are purely Asians by blood and that's proven by genes alone. BTW, I've studied "Pinoy_genes":-)

  6. doesn't matter who colonized what or who. The fact of the matter is, the Philippines is embedded inside Asian territory which means, we are purely Asians by blood. Blaming the location is bullfuck**Just look at us! Majority of us look like Malays or Indonesians. No matter what you do, we can never be considered under Latin America. Sadly, a lot of trying hard Filipinos these days wanted to be called Mexicans coz they're not proud of who they are as Negritos in origin. Hahaha. I'm out!

  7. You have to remember that if not for the massive (read: WHITE) European migration in South America, perhaps many Latin American countries wouldn't be as successful as they are today (or at least, more successful than the Philippines). Like in the Philippines, many native groups (the original Indian inhabitants colonized by the Spanish) are also marginalized in most Latin American countries. They're like the "indios" here, living in many provinces or sometimes remote areas, while the fairer-skinned ones (whether of Spanish, Chinese or other non-native descent) are usually more privileged. Many Germans, Italians and French also migrated to the Latin American countries. That's the reason for the industrialization and hence relative better success of those countries in comparison to an old Spanish colony like ours... (and that must also explain the tendency to be more socialist/leftist...)

    As for entrepreneurial ability, Chinese culture is conducive to that. Thanks to "guanxi" they are able to cultivate their social network in such a way that is conducive to business (think of it as the very first, ancient social network). Chinese society in ancient times was practically based on its mercantile class -- the market not only is the place where they conduct daily trade and business but where they socialize with their whole community. This is where they get to know their neighbors, introduce sons and daughters to marry, build families. Its basically been ingrained in them for centuries, NO, millenia. Also, since the Chinese constantly faced a barrage of wars/instability throughout history (warring states, warlordism etc), they had to have a source of livelihood that was easy to take up again when on the go/fleeing wars/migrating. Hence the tendency toward building small businesses.

    As for our native Filipinos (pre-colonization) our societies were based on COMMUNITY, where in certain groups do specific tasks for the benefit of the WHOLE community. Farming rice for the WHOLE community, hunting animals/fishing for food for consumption of the whole community. Trade wasn't done on an individual basis within a community (like in China) but on a villages-trade-with-other-villages basis, e.g. my rice grains for your fish. This is also why we don't have (or haven't developed/ingrained) that entrepreneurial nature of take-advantage-of-this-opportunity-now. We just generally do not see things as a potential for a get-rich-quick-scheme. It's a curse but also for me a blessing at the same time.

    I think this is why food will always be relatively cheaper in the Philippines, because why should you charge so high to provide for a basic necessity, to be able to eat? The same goes for things like healing. In many villages, the services like healing, like using hilot or abularyo is USUALLY not paid with money. Why make people pay for a gift from God that should be shared with others? But in other SE Asian countries, healing, massages, etc these have all been turned into businesses.

  8. greetings from 2015...
    we r not latin americans but we r latin asians. we have the asian identity but with a shred of latin culture. i dont know though if this is the same in other latin asian countries like east timor, palau, micronesia, guam and marianas islands or any of the old spanish east indies and asian portuguese holdings