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.


My mom's house

Mom’s House

We’re back from our short Hawaii trip and I have lots to share! Even though my whole family (except me) was sick with colds, we had a great time. We didn’t leave the house much, but the purpose of the trip was to spend time with family, which we did.

Road to Kalihi Valley

My mom lives in a neighborhood called Kalihi Valley (you might know the area from HGTV. They recently featured a home there, which is currently for sale). The valley is nestled between a lush mountain range, so it gets lots of rain and is very green. She lives in the lower level of a cinder block house and my Auntie and Grandma live up top.

My sister and her family live a few blocks down from my moms, at the bottom of a really steep hill (that used to be steeper before the city paved it a few years ago), in the same house where my grandparents lived when they settled on Oahu. My mom, sister and I lived in the smaller back house until my grandpa had the duplex built (early 80s?).


Loads of ginger flowers.

Looking up at mountain range

My grandpa was a natural gardener; it was in his blood. The plants liked him, too. They listened to him and gave back to him. Sadly, he’s no longer around to pass his secrets on to me, now that I’m willing and eager to pay attention. My 90-year-old grandma still tends to her plants when she can. She loves orchids especially.



Every inch of the small front yard has a flowering or edible plant on it and the perimeters around the house are filled as well. There’s ginger, ginger root (which my mom dug up for me to take home), papaya, malunggay (also called moringa. found in lots of Filipino dishes), tomatoes, bananas, eggplant, chives, green onions, edible ferns, bitter melon, bird of paradise, orchids, poinsettias, gardenias, succulents and aloe (I’m  sure I’m forgetting some!).

The green thumb gene may have skipped a generation (my mom is an excellent gardener. me, not so much), but I’m still going to try my hand at it in Michigan (we’ll have a backyard all to ourselves!).


Papaya and bitter melon vines.


Ginger Root



I never realized how different Hawaii was from the rest of the country until I left home and came back to visit. I know it seems pretty obvious. It’s an island with island culture, but it was simply just “home” to me. Each time I go back, I am more grateful that I grew up there and have roots there. It will always be home, just as San Francisco will always be home, long after I move.