Are Filipinos Asian?


I used to have to choose between Asian and Pacific Islander.

If you’ve been following the blog from the beginning, you might remember the post, Burning Questions, where I ask, “Will I be the only Filipino in town?”

For that post, I looked up some census numbers and cited that (per Wikipedia) as of the 2010 census, there were 1.6% Asians, 0.1% Pacific Islanders and only 1.5% being of two or more races. I didn’t get into detail, but those are only the numbers for Grosse Pointe City, population 5326. (And, if you also read my Welcome post, you’ll know that Grosse Pointe consists of five separate communities. Which are actually cities. Confused yet?). Grosse Pointe Farms, for example, population 9316,  lists 1.3% of their population as Asian, 0% Pacific Islanders and 1% being of two or more races.  Grosse Pointe Park does a little better with 1.8% of Asians (still 0% Pacific Islanders). I could list the other Grosse Pointe percentages, but I think you get the idea.

All these statistics reminded me of the various forms I had to fill out growing up. There was never a box for “Filipino.” Sometimes the form (aka stupid form) would say, “please check only one box.” Okay. I’m half Filipino, half White. Seriously? (And you guys, I even remember forms that asked for “Color”! omg). I’d look at the “White” box and then the “Asian” box and then the “Pacific Islander” box and eventually (and out of frustration) I would just check “White.” This especially bothered me when I started applying for college. “What about me?!?,” I would yell silently at the forms. Last week I got a pleasant surprise while filling out new health insurance applications for the girls. Finally,  someone got a clue; the form listed many ethnicity options, including “Filipino.”

Ask a Filipino

Image Credit:

Still, I wanted to know….Are Filipinos Asian or Pacific Islander? I went online and it’s actually a thing. I found an article that discusses the geography of the Philippines (which would make one lean “Asian”) and the heavy Western influence on the islands (which leans “Pacific Islander”). I found another site (see above graphic) that looks at the question in a more humorous, but still very thorough, way. He also applauds the modernization of “the form.”

The comments sections of both posts are interesting and fun reads in and of themselves, and after reading just a few of them, it’s pretty clear there is no right answer. It appears that “Are Filipinos Asian?” is one of those questions that will always be a question. But at least it’s one I don’t have to worry about answering any more.

15 thoughts on “Are Filipinos Asian?

    • Good point! And no, it certainly does not have to be either or. I was really posing the question as a way to open up discussion and bring light on the subject (and also share a little bit about my background).


      • I’m first generation Filipino-American, and I’ve come across that question a lot. I don’t think people should really be categorized as “asian,” “white,” “black,” etc. That leads the audience to believe the associated stereotypes that go along with our culture. My parents are born and raised in the phillipines, but I was born in cali and would consider myself “Americanized with a Filipino heritage/ancestry” so where would you categorize me then? How would categorize “white?” People from Europe? Because there’s quite a diversity in color now, where would that leave the europeons with African acentry that have darker complexions?

        you wanted discourse (:


  1. Yes, yes we are :-)

    I had a funny experience when my daughter was much younger – I was asked by a few kind and well-meaning ladies about my daughter’s paternity. They asked me if her father was an American (white) – to which I replied No, he’s very much a brown-skinned Filipino – national – native (i.e. Pinoy na Pinoy). My daughter is “kayumanggi” but she got some of the Spanish-Indian-Chinese blood of some distant ancestor from my side of the family so she’s Asian yet not so completely Asian-looking. The question surprised me and it begs another question now – what or who is a (true) Asian?

    Thanks for returning the visit to my blog.

    Have a wonderful weekend!



  2. I told my friend she’s not really Filipino, but Mexican…she disagreed. Maybe next time you could pencil in a little 1/2 next to the “White” and “Asian” box. There should be an “up to you” box, too.


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