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Pilipino American identity development model.

This article examines the identity development of F/Pilipino Americans. Because of a distinct history and culture that differentiates them from other Asian groups, F/Pilipino Americans may experience a different ethnic identity development than other Asian Americans. A nonlinear 6-stage ethnic identity development model is proposed to promote proper therapeutic treatment.

Este articulo examina el desarrollo de la identidad de los f/filipino-americanos. Debido a una historia y una cultura distinta que los hace diferenciar de otros grupos asiaticos, los f/filipino-americanos pueden experimentar un desarrollo de identidad etnica distinto al de otros grupos asiatico-americanos. Se propone un modelo de desarrollo de identidad etnica no-lineal de seis etapas, para promover el tratamiento terapeutico apropiado.


Various researchers have proposed several models that address racial and ethnic identity in Asian Americans. S. Sue and Sue (1971) developed their models based on Chinese Americans, whereas Kitano (1982) developed his model based on Japanese Americans. One of the two most widely used Asian American identity models was created by Kim (1981), whose research was based on third-generation Japanese American women. The second most widely used model, the Suinn-Lew Asian Self-Identity Acculturation Scale, was based on Asian American college students and does not distinguish between ethnicities (Suinn, Ahuna, & Khoo, 1992). With more than 30 different national origins included in the Asian American and Pacific Islander American category in the United States, it seems illogical to homogenize the identity development of individuals in this group into one model. Lee (1991) concurred with this sentiment and suggested that the generalization of Asian American identity development is too population-specific. Although the racial/ethnic identity models developed for Asian/Pacific Islanders constitute an essential contribution to the literature, they fail to account for the wide intragroup variance that exists in this population. For example, it is quite unlikely that the Chinese American experience will parallel exactly the Indian American experience or the Samoan American experience. There is enough heterogeneity in the Asian/Pacific Islander community for researchers and mental health professionals to analyze specific ethnic subpopulations within the larger racial category, so that their experiences and identity development can be assessed more accurately. The purpose of this work is to address the identity development of F/Pilipino Americans.

historical background

The term F/Pilipino is used throughout this article to recognize that Americans of Philippine backgrounds from different geographic regions and different stages of identity will use both Filipino and Pilipino as ethnic identifiers. Some F/ Pilipinos will use Pilipino as a political statement because there is no "F" in the Tagalog/Pilipino language. However, some F/Pilipinos will identify with Filipino because it is the term that has been used most commonly for centuries.

F/Pilipinos and F/Pilipino Americans are one of the only ethnic groups that have been placed into several "racial" categories. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (2000), F/Pilipinos are currently classified as "Asian American." However, according to the U.S. Department of Education, F/Pilipinos are categorized as "Pacific Islanders" (Horn, 1995). Moreover, many have classified F/Pilipinos as "Hispanic" because of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines for over 300 years (Trevino, 1987). Additionally, the California Senate Bill 1813, which was passed in 1988, now requires all California state personnel surveys or statistical tabulations to classify persons of F/Pilipino ancestry as "Filipino" rather than as Asian or Hispanic (Espiritu, 1992). Because there are 65 distinct ethnic groups and cultural minorities within the Philippines alone (Bautista, 1998), this legislation may support the argument that F/Pilipinos can serve as their own "racial" group.

F/Pilipino Americans can be differentiated from other Asian Americans in a variety of ways. First, if race is based on skin color and physical characteristics, it is important to recognize that F/Pilipino Americans identify themselves as being "brown" and not "yellow," as their Asian counterparts might (Ignacio, 1976). In fact, during the "Yellow Power Movement" of the Civil Rights era, F/Pilipino Americans separated themselves from their Asian American counterparts by forming a "Brown Asian Caucus," to signify their rejection of the term "yellow" and their embracing of the color "brown" (Ignacio, 1976). If F/Pilipinos are to be classified in this panethnic Asian category, then Asian Americans cannot be classified by skin color. F/Pilipinos are physically and identifiably brown. Additionally, others may view F/Pilipinos as being Mexican or another Latino group (Uba, 1994). Because society may not view F/Pilipinos as "Asian," these individuals may experience racialization that differs from that experienced by other Asian Americans.

Culturally, F/Pilipino and F/Pilipino Americans are different from other Asians and Asian Americans. Their background is a blend of aboriginal Pilipino roots, combined with Spanish and American cultures, along with traces of Malay, Muslim, East Asian, Pacific Islander, and Indonesian influences. Because of Spanish and U.S. colonial rule, the cultural orientations of Filipinos differ markedly from those of the two other dominant Asian groups in the United States--Chinese and Japanese Americans (Rabaya, 1971). The mix of cultural values in the Philippines can contribute to its ethnic uniqueness. In fact, there are three major differences between Asian culture and Philippine culture. First, there is a strong Catholic presence in the Philippines, which can be traced to the aforementioned Spanish rule. Agbayani-Siewert and Revilla (1995) reported that more than 80% of Filipino Americans are Catholic, not including the 10% who are non-Catholic Christian. Because of this Catholic/Christian-based culture, F/Pilipinos will share many of the same cultural values as Hispanic/Latino Americans (Espiritu, 1992). Moreover, F/Pilipinos will share more cultural experiences with Latinos who are Catholic than they would with East Asians who are Buddhist or South Asians who are Hindu.

Second, the U.S. colonization of the Philippines has led to an "Americanization" of F/Pilipino citizens. F/Pilipinos are taught the importance of American values and are trained to speak English in most secondary schools. Because of this, most F/Pilipino American immigrants will often speak English more fluently than some other Asian Americans (Kitano & Daniels, 1995).

Finally, some argue that Philippine culture thrives on a gender-neutral society, reflecting American influence in the culture. Pido (1986) noted that Filipinos give recognition, deference, and opportunities to any family member, regardless of sex, who shows the potential to increase the family's status and position. Additionally, Barringer, Gardner, and Levin (1993) reported that F/Pilipina American women are more likely than other Asian American women to be employed outside of the home. Unlike their Asian counterparts, F/Pilipina women are not taught to be submissive or passive. Like males, they are taught to excel in education and leadership. As a result, F/Pilipino Americans in the United States also respect a gender-equal value, wherein both men and women are encouraged to be political leaders, professionals, and entrepreneurs.

sociocultural factors

The sociocultural experience of F/Pilipino Americans is distinct from that of their Asian American counterparts, due to a variety of factors, including a lower socioeconomic status, F/Pilipino-specific health concerns, educational barriers, and marginalization within the Asian American community. The recent White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders revealed, "Filipino youth have one of the highest high school dropout rates and one of the highest rates of teen suicide ideation and attempts" (see "Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders," 2001). Additionally, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1994), native-born F/Pilipino Americans had a college graduation rate of 22%, in comparison with 51% of native-born Chinese Americans, 34% of native-born Japanese Americans, and 36.5% of native-born Korean Americans. Moreover, Okamura (1998) has suggested that when F/Pilipino Americans are classified as Asian Americans, they have been denied access to equal opportunity and affirmative action programs, particularly in higher education, despite being underrepresented as both students and faculty. As a result, the admission rates of F/Pilipino Americans into colleges and universities are dramatically decreasing. In 1996 at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), only 26% of the 1,377 Filipino American applicants were admitted, giving them the lowest admission percentage rate for all ethnic/racial groups. At the University of California (UC) Berkeley, for the fall semester 1996, a mere 16% of the 979 F/Pilipino applicants were admitted, resulting in the lowest rate for all ethnic/racial groups at that institution and well below the overall admission rate of 25% to 30% (Okamura, 1998). By keeping F/Pilipinos in the pan-Asian racial framework, F/Pilipinos are not being seen as an underrepresented high-risk minority group but are being falsely identified as a part of the "model minority" Asian American phenomenon. This misrepresentation can potentially lead to anger or resentment from F/Pilipinos toward the Asian American community. Moreover, this lack of success in higher education may also lead other Asian Americans to assign F/Pilipinos to an inferior status.

Community health is also a significant factor with F/Pilipino Americans. There are several health concerns that are drastically affecting F/Pilipino Americans but not their Asian American cohorts. According to the Filipino Task Force on AIDS (2001), HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death for American-born male Filipinos between 25 and 34 years old in the state of California. HIV/ AIDS was also the second leading cause of death for all Filipino immigrants in the state. In fact, F/Pilipinos have the highest percentage of HIV/AIDS in the Asian/Pacific Islander American community, contributing an astounding 32.4% of total number of reported Asian/Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS cases in California. (Chinese Americans, who ranked second, produced 14.3% of the total number of HIV/AIDS cases). Because Asian Americans are not being targeted as at-risk AIDS populations, F/Pilipinos are not being properly educated on safer sex practices.

Along with HIV/AIDS, according to the National Vital Statistics Report (2000), F/Pilipina American and native Hawaiian women have the highest rates of out-of-wedlock pregnancy of all Asian/Pacific Islander ethnic groups. Thirty-nine percent of childbirths to native-born F/Pilipina American women were out of wedlock, compared with 11% for Chinese Americans and 16% for Japanese Americans. The continuation of out-of-wedlock pregnancies could result in a lower socioeconomic status and an overpopulation of the F/Pilipino American community. This may also lead to the inability for F/Pilipinos to fulfill the educational expectations that are placed on other Asian Americans.

Mental health issues also specifically concern the F/Pilipino American community. Tompar-Tiu and Sustento-Seneriches (1995) reported that despite significant population growth, little is known about the mental health needs and concerns of F/Pilipino Americans. In their study of the prevalence of depression in F/Pilipino Americans (both foreign and native born), Tompar-Tiu and Sustento-Seneriches found that 27% of the community sample had a major depressive episode or clinical depression of varying severity. The prevalence rate for this particular F/Pilipino American sample was significantly higher than the U.S. general population, which is usually reported as 10% to 20%.

There are several additional health issues that are well known to members of the F/Pilipino American community. Issues such as eating disorders, sexually transmitted infections, and drug use are prevalent in major F/Pilipino communities across the nation. However, such topics cannot be commented on because of the lack of research done specifically on F/Pilipinos. Because of the panethnic Asian American paradigm, particular F/Pilipino health issues are being overlooked and disregarded.

Marginalization in the Asian American community is a major contribution to a distinct F/Pilipino American identity and experience. F/Pilipino Americans have continued to be the target of many "ethnic jokes" by other Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Okamura, 1998). Additionally, although they are one of the largest groups within the Asian/Pacific Islander American category, F/Pilipinos continue to be underrepresented in outreach funding or leadership positions in the Asian American community. Although F/Pilipinos originally advocated for the Asian American movement, ironically they have now taken steps to remove themselves from the panethnic Asian American framework (Espiritu, 1992). As mentioned earlier, F/Pilipinos in California lobbied to be recognized as "Filipino" and not as "Asian" or "Hispanic" in state personnel surveys or statistical tabulations (Espiritu, 1992). F/Pilipinos have realized that their social concerns and issues were not recognized in the Asian American community. Therefore, F/Pilipino communities have initiated their own advocacy groups in places where there is a more visible F/Pilipino community, in California or Hawaii, for example. In fact, in compliance with California Senate Bill 1813, most major colleges and universities (i.e., UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine) in the state will recognize five minority populations: (a) African American/Black, (b) Hispanic/Latino, (c) Native American/Alaskan Native, (d) Asian/Pacific Islander American, and (e) F/Pilipino American (University of California, Irvine Cross-Cultural Center, 2001). This ethnocentric political activism differentiates F/Pilipinos from other Asian groups and contributes to their unique identity development.

F/Pilipino Americans have established their own racial/ethnic designation to secure the appropriate representation in higher education and public health. At the same time, other major minority groups (particularly African Americans and Latinos) have also begun to recognize F/Pilipinos as a unique racial/ ethnic group, thus forming alliances that embrace F/Pilipinos as a distinct entity. Chicano/ Latinos have connected with F/Pilipinos as a result of the Chicano-F/Pilipino alliance during the United Farm Workers movement. African Americans have welcomed F/Pilipino Americans because of the allegiances forged through the urban hip-hop culture. This historically positive and embracing experience with other minority groups contributes to a unique F/Pilipino American identity.

f/pilipino-specific counseling methods

Because of the unique experience of F/Pilipinos, Enriquez (1982) coined the term sikolohiyang Pilipino, or Filipino psychology, citing specific concepts and methods in dealing with F/Pilipinos in general. Some of the core values of Enriquez's Filipino psychology are the following:

1. Kapwa (fellow being): As the core value of the Filipino personality, kapwa is not used in opposition to the self and does not recognize the self as a separate identity. Rather, kapwa is the unity of self and others and implies a shared identity or inner self.

2. Hiya (loss of face or shame): The goal of the Filipino is to represent himself or herself and his or her family in the most honorable way possible. This avoidance of hiya (or shame), may sometimes result in the inability of the Filipino to recognize emotional or mental problems.

3. Pakikisama (social acceptance, the achievement of status and power, and getting along with the group): The Filipino will thrive on acceptance of those surrounding him or her, always wanting to be a collective member of the group or community. He or she will also be encouraged to gain status and power, through education, entertainment, or politics. The Filipino will be at his or her best mentally when he or she is socially accepted and socially celebrated at the same time.

Although these terms may seem very similar to other Asian American values, such as collectivism, loss of face, or face-giving, they are uniquely F/Pilipino in many ways. For example, kapwa can be distinguished from typical notions of collectivism, because F/Pilipino communities are considered a greater family. Children are required to identify all of their elders as "Lolo/Lola" (grandfather/grandmother) or "Tito/Tita" (uncle/aunt) even though they are not blood-related. A unique trait of the F/Pilipino hiya from the typical notion of loss of face is the F/Pilipino's sensitivity to self-shame and individual social acceptance, as opposed to other Asian groups' sensitivity to disgracing the family name. The difference between Pilipino pakikisama and the customary face-giving is the Americanized individualism that accompanies it. In striving to attain social and political power, the F/Pilipino may betray his or her kababayan (countrymen) to reach his or her personal goals, yet will always feel a sense of pride and unity in being F/Pilipino. Moreover, tsismis (gossip) is a common-place aspect of life in every F/Pilipino and F/Pilipino American family and community. F/Pilipinos may tsismis about their own friends and relatives but yearn to be socially accepted and celebrated by those same people.

Another value that is distinctively F/Pilipino is utang ng loob, which can be defined as the debt of gratitude (Church, 1986). This system of reciprocity infers a more individualist sense of collectivism. When a F/Pilipino performs an act of kindness for another F/Pilipino, it is understood that there will be some form of repayment. While there may still be a genuine desire to help other kababayan, the F/Pilipino will remember and request compensation when necessary.

Enriquez (1982) cited the most effective counseling techniques of pagtatanung-tanong (asking around)--a relatively nonreactive, naturalistic technique based on informal inquiries adapted for research. He also included the pakapa-kapa method, a generalized approach to problem solving in which the counselor proceeds as if he or she were in a state of total ignorance. Both of these methods are suggested in response to the indirect communication patterns often exhibited among F/Pilipinos. F/Pilipino culture encourages several forms of indirect communication (e.g., a parent using an aunt or uncle as a middle person to retrieve information from his or her child, or a parent using generalized statements to communicate approval or disapproval to his or her child). Also, because of the prevalence of tsismis in the F/Pilipino community, these methods can be helpful in earning the client's trust of the counselor while promoting the client's openness and honesty.

Because Enriquez's (1982) research is based on Filipino participants (participants who were born and raised in the Philippines), some of the concepts introduced through sikolohiyang Pilipino may not apply to American-born F/Pilipinos. These individuals may relate and value many of the traits mentioned above, but because of their presence in the United States, the significance of these values can depend on their acculturation level. Therefore, it is important that one recognizes the different cultural levels of F/Pilipino Americans in the United States. F/Pilipino Americans who are more enculturated (i.e., they are the most in touch with their F/Pilipino cultural values) will connect most closely to the values mentioned in sikolohiyang Pilipino. At the same time, F/Pilipino Americans who are more assimilated (i.e., they are the most in touch with dominant American values) are more than likely relate more to Western/European psychology than to its Filipino counterpart.

In addition to using Enriquez's Filipino psychology, it is important to realize that F/Pilipino American clients may not be responsive to the models and techniques used in Asian American psychology. Atkinson, Marumyama, and Matsui (1978) explained that research had indicated that Asian American clients seemed to prefer and benefit most from a highly structured and directive approach rather than an insight/feeling-oriented one. However, Okamura and Agbayani (1991) rationalized that because Filipino cultures emphasize the importance of social acceptance and emotional closeness, counselors need to be more personable when working with Filipino Americans than with some other Asian American groups. While other Asian groups might tend to be emotionally inexpressive, F/Pilipinos tend to be emotionally expressive.

F/Pilipino and F/Pilipino Americans cannot continue to be inappropriately assessed as Asian American clients. One cannot apply traditional Asian American psychology to F/Pilipinos, simply because they are socially and culturally different. Therefore, one also cannot apply Asian American identity development models to F/Pilipino Americans either. Although their identity development may be similar to Asian Americans, it takes a distinct course and progression.


On the basis of my previous discussion of differences in the social, cultural, economic, and mental construction of F/Pilipino Americans pan-Asian American traditions, I hypothesize that F/Pilipino Americans will experience a different ethnic identity development than their Asian counterparts. As a result, F/Pilipino Americans may not relate to any of the identity stage models presented by S. Sue and Sue (1971), Kitano (1982), Kim (1981), or Suinn et al. (1992). An ethnic identity development model must be applied that is distinct from that used with any other ethnic group.

The development of this stage model is being proposed as a result of the marginalization of F/Pilipino Americans in the realm of psychology and society as a whole. It is a declaration of the need to recognize F/Pilipino Americans as a unique ethnic group that can no longer go unnoticed. It is a call to end the convenience of racial categories, particularly when dealing with cross-cultural psychology, multicultural education, or cultural diversity.

the pilipino american identity development model

This article introduces a progressive six-stage model to be known as the Pilipino American identity development model. Modified from Atkinson, Morten, and Sue's (1998) racial/cultural identity development model and Kim's (1981) Asian American identity model, the proposed model describes the process of ethnic identity formation for native-born/second-generation F/Pilipino Americans in the United States. The model is meant to be nonlinear and nonsequential and will not be completed by every F/Pilipino American. None of these stages should be seen as negative or positive but should be used to understand the acculturation levels of the F/Pilipino American, for more accurate and appropriate therapeutic or psychological practice. (Refer to Table 1 for a summary of this model.)


This stage begins at the child's earliest memories (generally 2-5 years old). If a child has a strong family background and a noticeable surrounding F/Pilipino community, this stage will endure longer than others. The parent at this stage attempts to teach his or her children of the importance of F/Pilipino culture--through food, dance, dress, music, or attempts to teach his or her native language. Children in this stage will have an impartial view of F/Pilipino culture because it is the only living culture of which they are aware. They do not attend school, hence, they are not independently exposed to alternative worlds around them.

1. Attitudes and beliefs toward self: Positive/neutral. The child is proud of his or her family and surroundings and, thus, is happy with himself or herself.

2. Attitudes and beliefs toward other F/Pilipino Americans: Positive/neutral. The child has a positive view of other F/Pilipinos, primarily because they are the only noticeable group around him or her. The child enjoys the accent of his or her parents, the food that he or she eats, and the color of his or her skin. Additionally, because young F/Pilipinos are taught to address their elders as either "Tito/Tita" or "Lolo/Lola" and their peers as "cousins," they view all F/Pilipinos as a part of an extended family.

3. Attitudes and beliefs toward Asian Americans: Neutral. The child is somewhat indifferent to other Asian children, simply because he or she has a minimal concept of race or ethnicity. The child merely knows he or she is F/Pilipino but does not understand its meaning or importance.

4. Attitudes and beliefs toward other minority groups: Neutral. Again, because the child has a limited concept of race, he or she has no positive or negative feelings toward any other racial/ethnic group.

5. Attitudes and beliefs toward White/dominant group: Positive/neutral. Although the child may not have much contact with the dominant group at this stage in his or her life, he or she is accustomed to seeing them on television or viewing pictures of them in books. Because of this, the child may develop a positive view of the dominant group.


F/Pilipino Americans at this stage are distinguished by the preference for dominant cultural values over their own. This stage can begin as early as 5 years old and can possibly continue for a person's entire adult life. D. W. Sue and Sue (1998) defined the conformity stage in the racial/cultural identity development model as follows: "Lifestyles, value systems, and cultural/physical characteristics most like White society are highly valued while those most like their own minority group's are viewed with disdain or are repressed" (p. 129). Specifically in F/Pilipinos, this can be triggered by the need to be "light-skinned," which is considered to be a cultural honor in the Philippine culture (Root, 1997). Along with that, the continual realization of a White-dominant American society will entice the F/Pilipino to strive toward Whiteness and assimilation.

1. Attitude and beliefs toward self: Negative/self-depreciating. Physical characteristics of the F/Pilipino American will be denied, changed, or despised (e.g., a F/ Pilipina may try to wear makeup to lighten her skin). Behaviors, cultural values, and cultural traditions are embarrassing and shameful. The F/Pilipino may also be embarrassed by anything that makes him or her stand out from individuals who are not F/Pilipino (e.g., his or her parents' accent or language, his or her mother's home-cooked food). The F/Pilipino will no longer want to eat his or her mother's authentic chicken adobo but will now prefer spaghetti and meatballs or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Along with that, the F/Pilipino will attempt to assimilate to the dominant culture in every possible way (e.g., the F/Pilipino will talk in his or her most proper English accent, without slipping a Pilipino word or mannerism).

2. Attitudes and beliefs toward other F/Pilipino Americans: Negative/group-depreciating. Majority cultural beliefs and attitudes about minority groups are held in this stage. The F/Pilipino will embrace or internalize stereotypes and beliefs that the dominant culture has (e.g., the person will not verbally oppose a peer who mocks his or her mother's accent, a classmate who taunts his or her native food, or a friend who insults other F/Pilipinos).

3. Attitudes and beliefs toward Asian Americans: Negative/group-depreciating. The F/Pilipino will hold the same beliefs about Asian Americans as he or she does about his or her own ethnic group. However, these beliefs may even be a bit more discriminatory because the F/Pilipino has taken on the dominant culture's view of Asians (particularly East Asians) as "Orientals" or "foreigners."

4. Attitudes and beliefs toward other minority groups: Negative/discriminatory. Because the F/Pilipino has adapted the beliefs of majority culture, he or she will not want to be affiliated with any minority group at all. He or she will adopt discriminatory views and behaviors in an attempt to push him- or herself away from a "minority status."

5. Attitudes and beliefs toward White/dominant group: Positive/group-appreciating. At this stage, the F/Pilipino believes that the White race is superior and standard. Members of this group are admired, respected, and emulated (D. W. Sue & Sue, 1998). Therefore, the F/Pilipino wants nothing more than to blend in with the White/dominant culture. He or she wants to have blonde hair and blue eyes; he or she wants to marry someone who is White and "beautiful"; he or she wants to be admired, respected, and emulated, and being White is the only way to achieve this.


The name of this stage was coined by Kim (1981), who described it as an adoption of a new perspective, often correlated with increased political awareness. This stage occurs in the pinoy/pinay (F/Pilipino American) when he or she begins to realize the social injustice and racial inequality of the world around him or her. This can be triggered by a racially prejudiced experience (e.g., being taunted with racial hate words, being followed around in a store, or being racially insulted by his or her White friends) or simply by education or enlightenment (e.g., having a thought-provoking conversation or taking an Asian American Studies class). Nonetheless, this stage occurs when the previously assimilated F/Pilipino begins to realize that he or she can never rise to the standards of Whiteness. The primary result is the abandonment of identification with White society and a consequent understanding of oppression and oppressed groups (Kim, 1981). The F/Pilipino at this stage may be seen as "angry"; he or she may be perceived as being an "angry minority," as very defiant and rebellious to anything that symbolizes conformity or assimilation.

1. Attitudes and beliefs toward self: Positive/self-empowering. The F/Pilipino will feel a sense of community involvement and a call to duty. He or she will feel embarrassed for the time that he or she spent in the assimilation stage and will try to make amends by becoming more socially or politically aware.

2. Attitudes and beliefs toward other F/Pilipino Americans: Positive/group-empowering. The pinoy/pinay will feel the need to encourage others of his or her same group to feel the same way that he or she feels. He or she will become frustrated toward other F/Pilipinos who are not community activists or who are assimilated to White culture.

3. Attitudes and beliefs toward Asian Americans: Positive/group-appreciating. The F/Pilipino will begin to form allegiances with other Asian Americans. He or she will begin to find common similarities and will bond with individuals who feel the same way that he or she feels.

4. Attitudes and beliefs toward other minority groups: Positive/accepting. Similar to his or her attitudes toward Asian Americans, the F/Pilipino will seek other individuals who have also been oppressed. The F/Pilipino is internally attempting to make amends for all the negative beliefs that he or she had once held.

5. Attitudes and beliefs toward White/dominant group: Negative/discriminatory. At this stage, the F/Pilipino is very angry at the superiority of White culture in society. He or she is instantly prejudiced against every White person he or she encounters and attempts to discriminate against them in the same way that he or she has been discriminated against.


This is a unique stage specifically for F/Pilipino Americans. Because F/Pilipinos are racially classified as Asian Americans, F/Pilipino Americans are socialized to accept their role in the Asian American paradigm. In this stage, F/Pilipinos will take ownership of themselves as "Asian." They will join Asian American social and community groups, in an attempt to find similarity and power in numbers. For F/Pilipinos in regions in which there is a sizable population of F/Pilipinos (e.g., California, Hawaii), this stage may not be as significant. They will accept the Asian American identity as a means of coalition, not as a term of identity. For F/Pilipinos in regions in which there are very few F/Pilipinos but a more visible population of pan-Asian Americans, the F/Pilipino might identify with the broader term "Asian American," so that he or she feels more accepted, has a greater sense of a belonging, and feels that he or she is a part of a community. This can possibly lead to panethnic assimilation. Whereas assimilation can be defined as "The process whereby a minority group gradually adopts the customs and attitudes of the prevailing culture" (The American Heritage Dictionary, 1996), panethnic assimilation can be defined as the process whereby a minority group gradually adopts the customs and attitudes of their socially constructed racial culture. This would be exemplified by a F/Pilipino who calls himself or herself "Asian" instead of (or before) he calls himself or herself "Filipino." Similarly, a Mexican American who identifies as "Hispanic" instead of (or before) he or she claims the term "Mexican" or "Chicano" would also be panethnically assimilating into a Hispanic culture.

1. Attitudes and beliefs toward self." Positive. The F/Pilipino sees himself or herself as a member of a greater panethnic group. The F/Pilipino is proud of himself or herself as a cultural being and enjoys his or her role as an Asian American.

2. Attitudes and beliefs toward other F/Pilipino Americans: Positive/accepting. The F/Pilipino still feels the empowerment as he or she did in the previous stage, but now he or she understands his or her role in a centralized "Asian" sense. The F/Pilipino feels a connection to his or her fellow F/ Pilipino group members but feels a similar connection to his or her fellow Asian American group members.

3. Attitudes and beliefs toward Asian Americans: Positive/group-appreciating. The F/Pilipino is very proud to be an Asian American. He or she will have friends of all Asian backgrounds and will feel a strong connection to all of them. He or she will advocate for the issues and needs of Asian Americans as a whole (e.g., Asian American studies, Asian American representation in the media and political system).

4. Attitudes and beliefs toward other minority groups: Positive/accepting. The F/ Pilipino will still have a positive and accepting outlook on other minority groups but will direct more of his or her compassion specifically toward other Asian Americans.

5. Attitudes and beliefs toward White/dominant group: Negative/discriminatory. The F/Pilipino will still have negative views of White society, still being prejudiced against and angry with every White person he or she encounters.


This stage is also distinctly unique to F/Pilipino Americans (and possibly to other marginalized groups within racial groups). This stage is triggered by an event (either negative or positive) that helps the pinoy/pinay understand that he or she has been unjustly classified in the Asian American paradigm. He or she has become aware of the marginalization of pinoys and pinays as Asian Americans, and he or she has been educated on the social injustices and invisibility specifically to F/Pilipinos in American society. Any number of events could trigger this stage. Some examples include a discriminatory experience or comment by an Asian American, a thought-provoking conversation or lecture about F/Pilipino marginalization in the Asian community, the reading of a Filipino book, or watching an educational Filipino movie. Again, the Filipino may be seen as angry, but he or she is even more angry because now the anger is directed not only toward the dominant culture but also toward the entire society around him or her. He or she does not want to be marginalized or neglected any longer. The F/Pilipino wants to be recognized and understood along with his or her community.

1. Attitudes and beliefs toward self: Positive/self-empowering. The pinoy/pinay is again self-empowered, but now his or her quest is to specifically advocate for the needs of his or her F/Pilipino people. He or she thinks of himself or herself now as F/Pilipino or F/Pilipina, not as Asian American.

2. Attitudes and belie toward other F/Pilipino Americans: Positive/group-empowering. The pinoy/pinay in this stage wants to encourage other F/Pilipinos to reach this stage too. He or she may cause controversy because other people who are not at his or her level may not agree with the change of identity. The F/ Pilipino wants to spread the ideals of pinoyism/pinayism (F/Filipino American empowerment) to every F/Pilipino American he or she encounters.

3. AttitudesandbeliefstowardAsianAmericans:Neutral/group-depreciating. Factors such as the number of Asian American friends that the pinoy/pinay has (as well as the situation that has triggered this stage) will determine the attitude held toward Asian Americans in this stage. If the stage began as a reaction to a social or political injustice against F/Pilipino Americans by Asian Americans, then it is more likely that the F/Pilipino might have negative outlooks on Asian Americans during this stage. If the stage began as a self-realization and if there were no negative Asian American experiences, then the F/Pilipino's outlook on Asian Americans will likely be neutral or even positive.

4. Attitudes and belie/ toward other minority groups: Positive/group-empowering. Because of a possible negative outlook on Asian Americans in this stage, the F/Pilipino will try to establish closer bonds with his or her African American and Latino counterparts. He or she will begin to see the historical and cultural similarities of these groups and form strong allegiances with them. Particularly with Chicano/Latino communities, with whom F/Pilipinos share many cultural values and historical parallels, the F/Pilipino in this stage may then feel connected to and accepted in the Latino/ Hispanic diaspora. Similarly, F/Pilipinos in this stage may unite with African American communities, reflecting empathy for African American oppression and sharing an interest in hip-hop culture. Finally, F/ Pilipinos may begin to pledge allegiance to other Pacific Islander cultures (e.g., Samoans, Native Hawaiians, Chamorros) who have also been marginalized in the Asian American racial category.

5. Attitudes and beliefs toward White/dominant group: Negative/tolerant. The pinoy/pinay is so pre-occupied with trying to be recognized as a people that he or she does not have the energy to be discriminatory toward other groups. In fact, he or she may feel the need to educate his or her White counterparts regarding the uniqueness of F/Pilipinos, in an effort to advance the separation of F/Pilipinos from the Asian American paradigm. The F/Pilipino is not accepting of all White people, however, and is very selective of who he or she can trust and who will be receptive of him or her.


Kim (1981) defined this stage as the highest form of identity evolution. It "encompasses the development of a positive and comfortable identity ... with consequent respect for other cultural/racial heritages. Identification for or against White culture is no longer an issue" (D. W. Sue & Sue, 1998, p. 126). For the F/Pilipino American, this stage includes all that Kim mentioned above but is focused on F/Pilipino American pride, gratification, and appreciation. The F/ Pilipino American will be most satisfied of his or her culture but will able to appreciate all other racial backgrounds as well, including White Americans and Asian Americans. He or she will no longer see his or her placement in the Asian American category as a completely negative factor but will continue to advocate for the needs for himself or herself, his or her F/Pilipino community, and for social justice as a whole. He or she will encourage other pinoys/pinays to reach the same level but will be respectful and patient if others spend more time at earlier stages. The F/Pilipino has progressed from ethnocentric realization to a constant ethnocentric consciousness. The American Heritage Dictionary (1996) defines consciousness as "A sense of one's personal or collective identity" or "Alertness to or concern for a particular issue or situation" and defines ethnocentric as "centered on a specific ethnic group, usually one's own." Hence, ethnocentric consciousness is simply a sense of one's personal collective identity, centered on a specific concern for the issues and situations of one's specific ethnic group.

1. Attitudes and beliefs toward self: Self-appreciating. The pinoy/pinay here is very satisfied and pleased with who he or she is and the stages he or she had to advance through to get to this stage. He or she is no longer self-empowering and angry as before but has instead learned how to deal with the anger in a proactive, positive manner.

2. Attitudes and beliefs toward other F/Pilipino Americans: Group-appreciating. The pinoy/pinay in this stage is very accepting and supportive of all members in his or her community, despite their stage of identity development. He or she will encourage each pinoy/pinay to reach his or her same level but will remain enduring and respectful at all times.

3. Attitudes and beliefs toward Asian Americans: Accepting. Again, the attitudes at this stage will vary, depending on the actual trigger from Stage 4 to Stage 5. If the F/Pilipino in this stage had a negative experience with the Asian American community, then he or she will more than likely be accepting or tolerant of other Asian Americans. However, if the F/Pilipino did not have a negative experience with Asian Americans, then he or she will more likely be more positive and accepting of other Asian Americans. Nonetheless, the F/Pilipino is no longer angry. He or she is interested in the social justice of all people.

4. Attitudes and beliefs toward other minority groups: Positive/accepting. Again, the F/Pilipino in this stage is very positive and accepting of other people who have been oppressed. He or she is committed to diversity and multiculturalism; the goal is to end social and political injustice in the world.

5. Attitudes and beliefs toward White/dominant group: Selective appreciation. The F/Pilipino in this stage will have a selective appreciation of whom he or she can trust in the dominant group. He or she will not be racially discriminatory against White Americans, but it will take practice and experience to regain trust and faith in the good of all people.

implications for counseling and education

It is important to understand the level of acculturation in working with F/Pilipino American clients. If a counselor is unable to notice the difference between F/Pilipino Americans and other Asian Americans, let alone not understand the concept of F/Pilipino identity, then there is a strong possibility that the counselor will wrongly assess the client. In such a situation, the counselor's lack of knowledge or unwillingness to learn will lead to improperly treating the client and neglecting to focus on the client's therapeutic success or happiness.

There are a few key points that need to be made about the Pilipino American identity development model. First, the model is nonlinear, meaning that participants may advance through the stages in a progressive manner but may occasionally jump back and forth between stages. (For example, if a client is in the Ethnocentric stage but lacks a community to support him or her in that stage, then he or she can possibly go back to Panethnic Consciousness or Assimilation.) Second, it is important to understand that some people may not progress through all of the stages. Depending on their environments, surroundings, and influences, clients may remain in certain stages for their entire lives. For example, if a client lives in a predominantly White community, he or she may dwell in the Assimilation stage for his or her whole life. Third, it is important to realize that it is not the duty of the counselor to help a client progress through these stages. The counselor may challenge the client to think in different perspectives, yet should not and could not force the client to advance to any other stage. The evolution of a client's identity needs to be self-realized and self-actualized. If a client is being told or coerced into a higher stage, then the stage advancement is erroneous and may result in the instability of the client's identity.

In using this model, it is important to be aware of the sensitivity that accompanies it. Many F/Pilipino Americans are very conscious and passionate about their ethnic identity. For example, individuals who are panethnically assimilated may not see anything wrong with such a concept, whereas those who have reached ethnocentric realization may be very angry about their roles in the Asian American framework. Hence, it is very important to realize that there is definite diversity in the F/Pilipino American community. In the same way that counselors cannot assess or treat all Asian Americans in the same manner, they cannot assess or treat all F/Pilipino Americans in the same manner either. This holds true for any racial/ethnic/underrepresented group, including all people of color; women; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered persons; the disabled; and others. By beginning to study and understand the uniqueness of minority groups within minority groups, one can progress toward accuracy and the therapeutic success of all members of society.

As mentioned earlier, Okamura and Agbayani (1991) suggested that F/Pilipino Americans prefer social acceptance and emotional closeness, particularly in a counseling/therapeutic setting. Using this knowledge and additional information given in this article, the most effective counselor for a F/Pilipino American would be one who is personable, understanding, and aware of Pilipino culture. Therefore, it would be beneficial for a counselor to use this model, to show the F/Pilipino client that he or she is cognitively aware and knowledgeable of the unique cultural experience of F/Pilipino Americans. Additionally, the client may be more accepting of the counselor, because the counselor will have demonstrated his or her willingness to learn more about Pilipino values and traditions. Finally, the client may perceive the counselor's knowledge and understanding as more personable and familial, leading to a more honest and trusting therapeutic relationship.
Pilipino American Identity Development Model

                                      Attitudes Toward

Stage of F/Pilipino                     F/Pilipino     Asian
American Identity             Self      Americans    Americans

1. Ethnic awareness         P/Neutral   P/Neutral     Neutral
2. Assimilation to
  dominant culture            N/SD         N/GD         N/D
3. Awakening to social
  political consciousness     P/SE         P/GE         P/GA
4. Panethnic Asian
  consciousness                 P          P/A          P/GA
5. Ethnocentric
  consciousness               P/SE         P/GE      Neutral/GD
6. Incorporation               SA          P/GA          A

                              Attitudes Toward

Stage of F/Pilipino            Other     Dominant
American Identity           Minorities     Group

1. Ethnic awareness          Neutral     P/Neutral
2. Assimilation to
  dominant culture             N/D         P/GA
3. Awakening to social
  political consciousness      P/A          N/D
4. Panethnic Asian
  consciousness                P/A          N/D
5. Ethnocentric
  consciousness                P/GE          N
6. Incorporation               P/A         Sel A

Note. P = Positive; N = Negative; SD = Self-Depreciating; SE =
Self-Empowering; SA = Self-Appreciating; GD = Group-Depreciating;
A = Accepting; GA = Group-Appreciating; D = Discriminatory;
Sel A = Selective Appreciation.


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Kevin L. Nadal, Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Columbia University. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kevin L. Nadal, Teachers College, Columbia University, 552 W. 114th Street, New York, NY 10027 (e-mail:
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Author:Nadal, Kevin L.
Publication:Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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