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Caste System in the Philippines-Discrimination of Filipinos in the United States and my Pinoy Pride List

My most widely read Hub. The importance of the remittances of the Overseas Filipino Workers to the Philippines economy can not be denied.

Housing Differences Between the Rich and the Poor


Caste System in the Philippines

There is a caste system between the poor and the rich and the educated and non educated Filipinos. The Overseas Filipino Workers( OFW's) are considered the modern economic heroes of the Philippines. Their remittances help uplift the economic woes of the country. Will the OFW's be another caste group of the future in the Philippines?

In this hub. I have also listed 20 Filipino and Filipino-Americans in my Pride List. Do you have an addition to my list?

Is there a Caste System in the Philippines?

The Philippines is not India or Pakistan. But better believe it, there is a caste system in the Philippines. The caste system exits between the rich and the poor, between educated and uneducated, and to a lesser extent between the Filipino-mestizos and the “browned-skinned and flat-nosed” Filipinos.

Let me start with the clash between the rich and the poor. It is well known that the Philippines is not really a true democracy but an oligarchy. Oligarchy is defined by Webster as a form of government in which the supreme power is in the hands of a small exclusive class. This exclusive group are the rich. If you live in the Philippines, you know or have heard of a few families that run our country as well as our business. And what about the poor? They just suffer and accept what is handed to them, good or bad!

The second item is the clash between the educated and uneducated. The educated usually had comfortable lives, excellent social status, travels, eat in five-star restaurants and also send their children to excellent schools. The uneducated have lower social status, do the menial jobs and if lucky can get jobs as farming tenants, personal maids, or drivers of the rich and educated Filipinos. In Marinduque, there are hundreds of tenants who work for the rich landowners. These folks were raised as Roman Catholics, but only go to Church twice a year, during Christmas and Easter. When invited to your house in town, they will not enter your front door. They enter the back door. Entering the front door is bad manners. They will not eat at the same time with you, even though you invite them. They will wait until you are finished before they eat.

On the last item of heritage, Spanish mestizos versus brown skinned Filipinos. Today, this is not so blatant. But during my grandparents and parents time, the mestizos feel they are superior in terms of social standing and race. My grandparents speak fluent Spanish as well as local dialect (Tagalog or Ilonggo) and are the elites of society. The mestizos would look down on the non-mestizos or even the Chinese Filipinos. In Marinduque, a few decades ago, if you were Filipino-Chinese, you would not be invited or included in the social activities of the “socialites”, even though you are doing well as a businessman. It is only today that it is no longer a social taboo to invite the non-mestizos to your home for socializing. During my grandparents' time, it was also a taboo to marry outside your social class. Children of the rich are discouraged to associate with children of families that reside on the “other side of the river” (similar to American expression of the “other side of the railroad track”).

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Discrimination of Filipinos in US in the 1930's

Filipinos Working in the Farms of Central California in the 1930's

Filipinos Working in the Farms of Central California in the 1930's

Filipino Discrimination in the US in the 1930s and 1960s

The prejudice against Filipino immigrants in the US and specially in California in the 1920s to 1940s is well documented (1,2). One of the well-known books, America is in the Heart, documenting the life of the Filipino immigrants at that time period, was written by Carlos Bulosan. Mr Bulosan is my number one literary heroes of that time.

Like many Filipinos during that time, Bulosan left for America in July 1930 at age 17, in the hope of finding salvation from the economic depression of his home. He never again saw his Philippine homeland. No sooner had he arrived in Seattle, was he immediately met with the hostility of racism, forcing him to work in low paying jobs.

He worked as a farm worker, harvesting grapes, asparagus and other kinds of hard labor work in the fields of California. He also worked as a dishwasher with his brother, Lorenzo in the famous Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. He was active in labor politics along the Pacific coast of the United States and edited the 1952 Yearbook for ILWU Local 37, a predominantly Filipino American cannery union based in Seattle.

Mr Bulosan died in 1956. To honor his memory, a Bulusan Memorial Exhibit located in Seattle's International District and in the Eastern Hotel features his literary works and manuscripts. One of his famous books, America is in the Heart based on his autobiography is now made into a Philippine movie.

One of the famous quotes from that book is timeless, as follows: "We in America understand the many imperfections of democracy and the malignant disease corroding its very heart. We must be united in the effort to make an America in which our people can find happiness. It is a great wrong that anyone in America, whether he be brown or white, should be illiterate or hungry or miserable."


(1) Carlos Bulosan, America Is in the Heart, 1946

(2) The Delano Manongs:Forgotten Heroes of the United Farm Workers-a Video by

Our Family Experience on Discrimination in 1965

Discrimination against Filipinos was very blatant during the time of the Manongs and Carlos Bulosan. It appeared that by the 1960s, racial discrimination had disappeared from the minds of the American people. But in 1965, my wife and three children experienced their first discrimination experience in Gladstone, Missouri.

Gladstone is a northern suburb of Kansas City, Missouri with about 99.5% Caucasian population at that time.

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The discrimination was not blatant but very subtle. After relocating in Missouri for my first job after my Ph.D. graduation from the University of Illinois, my family and I joined a Country Swim Club just a couple of blocks and a walking distance from our rented residence.

My wife, Macrine, and the kids would swim at the country club twice or three times a week. The first day, they were there, she overheard the conversation from two middle-aged ladies. She heard a comment of the first lady to her friend, "Look we are getting invaded by blacks already". Macrine looked around, but there were no black families around; she and the kids were the only colored (brown) people relaxing and swimming in the pool area. Macrine was bothered by what she heard but did not get upset. She continued watching the kids swimming in the pool. Suffice to say, I had never experienced personally an incident of prejudice or a discriminatory remark in my more than 51 years residing and working here in the US (California, Illinois, Missouri and Maryland).

After our second year in the neighborhood, we became more active socially and became well-known to the Gladstone community. I was elected by the members of the club as treasurer for two years. I was handling the payroll of three employees and collecting the membership fees of the 300 members. I was delighted that the club members and Board of Directors trusted me with their finances. I therefore conclude that the cure for discrimination is education and ignorance is the mother of prejudice.

If you are a Filipino-American or a member of a minority and are reading this article, have you ever experienced prejudice or discrimination in your life here in the US? Discrimination may be racial, religious, sexual, financial or your educational status.

Pinoy Abroad


Filipino-Americans Involvement in US Politics

My next door neighbor and I were recently discussing about political involvement of Filipino-Americans in the political arena in the US. In spite of the fact that there are now close to 4 million Americans with Filipino ancestry, there is no such thing called the Filipino vote. I told my neighbor, It will not be in my lifetime, when the US will elect a President or Vice President, a man or a woman with Filipino blood in his or her ancestry. I have a feeling though that in the next decade we will have a few more Filipino-Americans in the House of Senate and House of Congress.

Today there are only two members of Congress and Senate, since the resignation of Senator John Ensign, the only Filipino American( 1/8 Filipino ancestry)from Nevada. Senator Ensign resign while being investigated for ethical reasons in May 2011. The Representatives who are Filipino Americans are:

1.Representative Robert C. Scott ( 1/8 Filipino ancestry) of Virginia, a Democrat and

2.Representative Steve Austria ( 1/2 Filipino ancestry) of Ohio, a Republican

Filipino Americans have been known to be socially conservative. In the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election Republican president George W. Bush won the Filipino American vote over John Kerry by nearly a two-to-one ratio. A similar support for the Republican party occurred during the 2000 election. However, during the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, Filipino Americans voted majority Democratic, with 58% of the community voting for President Barack Obama and only 42% voting for the Republican Candidate, Senator John McCain. The 2008 election marked the first time when a majority of Filipino Americans voted for a Democratic presidential candidate.

It is nearly impossible for Filipino Americans to win an election solely based on the Filipino American vote because they lived in scattered areas all over the US. Majority of the Filipino Americans reside in California, Hawaii, New York, Texas and Illinois. At the national level and state level, Filipino Americans have increased their visibility over the past few decades.

Ben Cayetano, former governor of Hawaii, became the first governor of Filipino descent in the United States. The number of Congress-members of Filipino descent doubled to numbers not reached since 1937, two when the Philippine Islands were represented by non-voting Resident Commissioners, due to the 2000 Senatorial Election. In 2009 there were three Congress-members who claim to have at least one-eighth Filipino ethnicity.

Do you know of a Filipino-American currently active in the political scene in your city, county or in your state?. Can you guess what % of the Filipino-American vote be with the Democratic party this coming November election. My guess will be about 53%. This is 5% less compared to the 2008 election of Barack Obama. I will attribute this loss to Paul Ryan as the VP candidate of the Republican Party.

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pinoy Pride


My top 20 Filipino American Pride List

I have always wanted to publish my own Filipino-American Pride List. The 20 names (BOTH LIVING AND DEAD) below are not listed in order of importance. This is my personal list and you are welcome to suggest any names that could be added in this list. My only requirement is that they have excelled in their field of expertise ( entertainment, sports, science, medicine, literature, arts, law and politics). I have personally meet Olivera, Comiso, Cabaldon, Pasquil, and Nicolas-Lewis. Cabaldon and Pasquil are associates and friends of my daughter, Ditas Katague ( Number 8). And last but not least, Number 14 in this list is my oldest son, Dodie Katague, Writer and Lawyer. Pure Filipinos like Manny Pacquiao, Dr Fe Del Mundo, Lea Salonga or Charice Pempengco are not included in this list. They belong to the Filipino Pride list.

1. Baldomero Olivera, Ph.D. – Distinguished Professor of Biology, University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah; first Fil-Am member of the United States National Academy of Science. Research: neurotoxins from venoms of predatory cone snails

2. Emil Guillermo – award winning journalist, writer, and broadcaster. First Filipino American to anchor a regularly scheduled national news program, NPR "All Things Considered," May 1989. Winner of American Book Award, 2000.

3. Jose Antonio Vargas – 2008 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Journalism for his work with the Washington Post; DREAM Act advocate; "illegal alien"

4. Carlos Bulosan – Author, America Is in the Heart. Discrimination of Filipinos in the 1930s.

5.Loida Nicolas-Lewis – Chairman and CEO, TLC Beatrice International Holdings, Inc. Active on Filipino American politics and policy

6. Cristeta Comerford – First woman executive chef at the White House.

7. Josefino Comiso, Ph.D. – physics expert at NASA. My contemporary at PAASE, Research on arctic melt and global warming

8.Ditas Katague was appointed by Governor Brown in March 2011 as Commissioner Sandoval’s Chief of Staff, California Public Utilities Commission. Ditas has more than 20 years of experience at federal, state and local government agencies as well as in private and non-profit sectors. Prior to coming to the CPUC, Ditas was Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Corporations. She also served in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research as Director of Census 2010 and is an expert in civic engagement and public participation. She was also Assistant Secretary for Transportation at the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. Ditas has a B.A. in Social Sciences and Practice of Art (double major) from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Masters in Public Administration (Intergovernmental Management and Organization Development) from the University of Southern California. Ditas was just recently appointed as a member of the US Census Bureau Advisory Board for Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations. Ditas is my youngest daughter.

9. Eleanor Mariano – Rear Admiral (Lower Half), U.S. Navy, retired. First Filipino American to be promoted to a flag officer rank; former White House physician

10. Mona Pasquil Rogers- in November 2009, became the first woman to serve as acting lieutenant governor of California, Friend and associate of my daughter, Ditas

11. Steve Austria - Republican congressman from Beavercreek, Ohio.

12. Rozita Villanueva Lee – daughter of Eugenio Villanueva, who emigrated from Pangasinan to Hawaii as part of the recruited labor force for the Hawaii plantations, has been described as one of the top ten successful Filipinos abroad. She has served as National Vice Chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations and in a number of other prominent positions of responsibility. On September 16, 2010, the White House announced her appointment as a member of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

13. Christopher Cabaldon – Mayor of West Sacramento, California, born in 1965. Openly gay activist. Have attended fun raising activities for his political activities.

14. Dodie Diosdado Katague- author of Cloyne Court and Prosecuting Attorney,Contra Costa, California. Here's a summary of his first novel Cloyne Court" In 1946, the "real" all male "Animal House" was born when Cloyne Court become a student co-op. But the real story begins when Cloyne Court went co-ed in 1972 with the arrival of sixty-two women. Katague's sexy, reveal-all memoir takes place in the late 70s, soon after the women moved in. All it takes is one kiss to transform animals into horny princes.

15. Enrique Iglesias – a Spanish pop music singer-songwriter. Is now mainstream US singer

16. Christine Gambito – an American Internet personality, actress, and comedian; she maintains one of the most-subscribed-to channels on YouTube. Also appointed Ambassador of Philippine tourism

17. Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye was born on October 19, 1959). She is a Filipino-American jurist, and is the 28th Chief Justice of California. She was nominated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for California's highest judicial office on July 22, 2010, and retained in office by California voters on November 2, 2010, and was sworn in on January 3, 2011. Her Hawaiian-born father, Clarence, was of Filipino and Portuguese ancestry, while her mother, Mary Gorre, was Filipino. She was a classmate of my oldest son ( Dodie) in Law School at UC Davis.

18. Alex S. Fabros, Jr. – Historian, professor, retired U.S. Army officer; Documentaries: “Filipino Americans: Discovering their Past for the Future”, "Unsung Heroes"; historian, "Filipinas Magazine"; Historian and Guest Curator, National Steinbeck Center's "Filipino Voices: Past and Present."; and winner of New American Media's "Ethnic Pulitzer Prize".

19. Cheryl Burke- Professional Dancer, Trophy Winner-ABC Dancing with the Stars

20. Jessica Sanchez- 2012 American Idol Runner-Up

Ditas Katague with Governor Arnold Scharzenegger and Me

Ditas Katague, number 8 in my pride list with Governor Arnold Scharzenegger at a fundraising and birthday party in Walnut Grove, California, July 25, 2006

Ditas Katague, number 8 in my pride list with Governor Arnold Scharzenegger at a fundraising and birthday party in Walnut Grove, California, July 25, 2006

Contact with Filipino-Americans in Your Neighborhood

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are the Modern Heroes of the Philippines

Modern Heroes of the Philippines

Around 8.6 million to 11 million overseas Filipinos are the estimated count worldwide or about 11% of the total population of the Philippines are the Filipino modern heroes. Without the remittances of these OFW's, the Philippine economy would not look as bright and positive compared to the economy of other countries.

More than a million Filipinos try their luck each year to work abroad through overseas employment agencies and other programs.

A majority of them are women applying as domestic helpers and personal service workers. Others emigrate and become permanent residents of other countries. Overseas Filipinos often work as doctors, physical therapists, nurses, accountants, IT professionals, engineers, architects,entertainers, technicians, teachers, military servicemen, seafarers, students, caregivers, domestic helpers and maids.

Remittances sent by OFWs to the Philippines contribute to the country's economy, with a value of more than US$10 billion in 2005. This makes the country the fourth largest recipient of remittances with India, China, and Mexico in the top list. OFW remittances represent 13.5% of the country's GDP, the largest in proportion to the domestic economy among the four countries.

In 2008, overseas Filipinos sent US$15.9 billion worth of remittances to the Philippines, up from the US$14.4 billion in 2007, and US$13 billion in 2006.

And as we read this, there are also thousands of Marinduque OFWs out there sacrificing away from their families in order that they may provide them good life

and better future and their remittance helping to boost Philippine economy.

Note: On a personal level about 80% of the clients of Chateau Du Mer Conference Hall are Marinduque's OFW's and their relatives.

Overseas Filipino Workers

New Guestbook Comments

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on September 04, 2015:

Maraming Salamat!

Mae-an on September 04, 2015:

I just read that anniversary post and I think both of you are such beautiful people, parang from Sampaguita Pictures :-)

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on September 04, 2015:

MAE-AN, during my teen-age years in Iloilo, my grand mother used to tell me to beware of girls from the North ( Tagalas and Ilocanas), since they are not as good as the local Ilongas. a regional discrimination at that time. At that time, if you are a non-Ilonggo speaking Filipino like the Cebuanos as you mentioned you are an inferior breed. I did not listened to my grand mother's advice because when I went to college in UP Diliman, I met a Tagala from Marinduque and the rest is History.. Our Love story and 58th wedding anniversary is chronicled in this site. Cheers!

Mae-an on September 03, 2015:

Sir Dave,

You forgot to mention the superiority complex of Ilonggos to non-Ilonggos. Haha! I don't think you have it but my mom, aunts, and grandmothers have something against the Cebuanos.

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on August 11, 2015:

Hi Mel, thanks for dropping by and your thoughtful comment. Have a great day!

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 11, 2015:

Very interesting observations. This is very similar to the caste system we had here in the United States up until only about 50 years ago between whites and non whites. Many of these attributes of our caste system, such as prohibitions against interracial marriage, were actually the law in many places. We still haven't shaken off the last of it. Great hub.

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on June 17, 2015:

Hi Billybuc, thanks for visiting this hub. This is my most widely read hub and I am glad you have learned a little bit about the Philippines. Cheers and Have a Great Day!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 17, 2015:

I actually know very little about the Philippines, so this article was not only interesting but informational as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on February 27, 2015:

Hi Ken, an excellent point. Corruption, Nepotism and Priorities must changed for the Philippines to progress in the 21st century. Have a Great Day!

Ken from Seattle, WA on February 26, 2015:

I understand what you're saying in this hub. I love my fellow Filipinos but I hate the corruption and nepotism. It's not necessarily the caste system, it's the messed up values and priorities that Filipinos hold dear thanks to centuries of imperialism and foreign occupation that conditioned the culture.

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on February 25, 2015:

Hi Ray, Norma and Joe are old friends of mine way back at the University of Illinois in the 1960s. They are still residing in Galveston. We are still in touch via FaceBook. Pls open your message in FB I have a comment on the Mabasa surname from Kalibo. Cheers!

Ray L. Burdeos on February 25, 2015:

Yes I know Joe and Norma Gans. He was a professor at the University of Texas, Medical School, in Galveston. That's where I graduated with a BS degree in Health Care Administration after I retired from the U.S. Coast Guard with 24 years of service. He is retired now and I have no idea where they are now.

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on February 25, 2015:

Hi Ray, I was born in Iloilo, went to college in UP Diliman and went to graduate school in the US when I was 23 years old Now retired and has a beach house and retirement home in Boac, Marinduque. I read you are retired and resides in Galveston, Tx. Would you happen to know the Gans( Joe and Norma)? Cheers!

Ray L. Burdeos on February 25, 2015:

David, You mentioned "Aswangs" here...are you by any chance originally from Capiz? The reason I asked, because my late mother Manuela Mabasa Legaspi was from Kalibo. But I have never been there. I am originally from Butuan, Agusan.

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on February 24, 2015:

Hi Ray, I just read excerpts from your book and your romance with the Captains daughter. WoW, you are a fantastic writer. Your style of writings reminds me of my oldest son first novel "Cloyne Court". Dodie Katague 's novel can also be found in Amazon. Yes, I have heard of Natalie Coughlin. Thanks for the information about Jesse Jose

Ray L. Burdeos on February 24, 2015:

David, another name for your list: Natalie Coughlin, 12-time Olympic medalist. Her mother is mestiza pinay from Valejo, California.

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on February 23, 2015:

Hi Raym I will look for your book in the Internet one of these days. Thank you for the information. Have a Good Day!

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on February 23, 2015:

Hi Ray. I have heard of Roman Gabriel but not of Jesse Jose.

Ray L. Burdeos on February 22, 2015:

David, more names for your Pride List: Roman Gabriel, star quarterback in college and NFL and inducted in Hall of Fame; Jesse Jose, USN award winning journalist and editor of DOLPHIN of the U.S. Navy Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut. Now a freelance writer and author in Auburn, Washington.

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on February 22, 2015:

Hi Freddy, once again I really appreciate your thoughtful comments and feedback in my hubs and blogs. Cheers! and I agree Pinoys are Cool people!

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on February 22, 2015:

Hello Chita, I agree about the social taboos that is still practice in the Philippines today. Thank you for your comment.

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on February 22, 2015:

Hi Ray, thanks a million for your feedback. I appreciate you sharing your personal experience as a steward. Thank you also for mentioning several accomplished Filipino-Americans in my Pride List. Have a fantastic day!

Ray L. Burdeos on February 22, 2015:

Mr. Katague,

Very interesting piece. I must say I enjoyed reading it because for one thing it's true. I arrived here in the United States in 1955 coming from the Philippines recruited by the U.S. Coast Guard as one of the thousands of Filipino citizens to replace the blacks as stewards. It happened when President Truman signed an executive order to integrate the military. It means that the blacks were no longer limited to work as stewards only. Many blacks moved out from the Steward Department. The result, it created a critical shortage of stewards. To fill the shortage, the Navy and Coast Guard recruited Filipinos who were willing and ready to enlist. From 1955 up to this date, I have witnessed the influx of pinoy immigrants, especially those covered under the new Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, to this country. There are great stories to tell about these new pinoy immigrants. That's the subject of my 6th book, PINOY INGRATES. BTW, let me add a few Filipino American names in your list: Barbara Luna, Hollywood actress who once acted opposite Frank Sinatra; Barbara Magallanes, Dick Clark's AMERICAN BANDSTAND, regular dancer; Phoebe Cates, Hollywood actress; Dr. Felipe Tolentino, MD, Ophthalmologist, Harvard trained and author. It's all in Wikipedia.

Chita on February 21, 2015:

There's still a taboos everywhere, Not only in the Philippines. But not as rampant during our grandparents or parents time. The society or social media influences and introduced freedom to a new generations. on February 21, 2015:

Dave, thanks! we are the oct mongrelized people in the world because FIlipinos are crazy romantics: we marry to everybody: nigerians, russians, argentinians, peruvians, americans, japanese, chinese, vietnamese, australians, etc. etc. canadians: we are a cool people!

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on September 23, 2014:

ologsinguito: Thanks a million for your feed back, Cheers!

ologsinquito from USA on September 23, 2014:

Very interesting. As humans, we are always looking for ways to divide ourselves.

David B Katague (author) from Northern California and the Philippines on September 13, 2012:

@antonio-marquessans: Hi Antonio, Thank you for your comment. Hope is well with you! I agree with your statement that discrimination is all over the world, But I am hoping however, that today all discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation and religious beliefs will disappear in the world, so we will have peace and prosperity in the years to come.

antonio-marquessans on September 13, 2012:

Hola david , I have seen this class distintions in countries of the five continets ,I don't think is just filipinas.Do you remember afroamericans not alowed to use the same schools as the caucasians , or same bus or the same hotel ? no I am not speaking of the 15th ,16th,17th, 18th, 19th centuries , I am speaking of 1960 ´s in USA ...have a nice day David.

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