HomeAsia-Pacific Social Science Reviewvol. 10 no. 1 (2010)

Engaging the Language, Culture and Politics in the Philippine Homeland from the Imaginations of Selected Filipino-American Students at the University of Hawai’i

Antonio P. Contreras

Discipline: Social Science, Culture



This paper critically analyzes the interplay of language, popular culture and identity in the context of the Filipino diaspora in Hawaii. This is done using the views of a selected sample of Filipino-American students enrolled in Filipino and Ilokano language classes at the University of Hawai’i during the Spring Semester of 2009; existing scholarships on the topic; and personal observation of the author. The analysis is done in the context of an “Ilokano” identity which is very much defined to a point that a significant number of Ilokanos see themselves in a position of difference, and not just a mere subset, of the larger “Filipino” identity. This view is now influenced and/or contested by the images which the youth at present encounter through language and culture classes; as well as from the globalization of culture, in which popular and local symbols in the homeland are beamed to them in real time, courtesy of TFC and Pinoy TV, as well as the internet. Furthermore, this is played amidst the backdrop of an academic setting in which the two language programs, i.e. Filipino and Ilokano, are both offered in the University of Hawai’i. The dynamics between these language programs, as well as the effects of globalized forms of new media, is analyzed for their significant impacts on how the Filipino nation is imagined from a distance even by those who have physically left the geographical boundaries of the Philippine archipelago, but who are still part of the larger global Filipino communities emerging from the diaspora.