Diversity and Complexity of Filipino Culture Increasingly Reflected in Media
Jazmyne Faith Viloria | Maui High School, Class of 2023
TFC isn’t the only channel with Filipino-culture implementation anymore. With the help of Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, Marvel’s Wave heroine, and various Filipino-American influencers and musicians, Filipino culture, language and traditions finally reached the box office, the Billboard Hot 100 list, and so much more. As Filipino-American representation in media grows throughout each generation, has it impacted today’s youth?
“Filipino-Americans have been underrepresented or subjected to stereotypes in media, which has made it challenging for different audiences to understand the diversity and complexity of the Filipino-American community,” commentated Aleizay Angel, a freshman at Maui High School. “It is important to see and hear one’s own culture represented in the media they consume.”
Dexter Corpuz, a University of Hawai‘i West O‘ahu graduate, realizes this as well, which explains why “seeing Ned’s grandma in Spiderman No Way Home mentioning and using Filipino traditions and culture, from calling her ‘Lola’ to speaking the language in the movie, made me in awe and amazed to see my culture on the big screen like a Marvel film!” As bits of Filipino culture started to show in mainstream movie sets, dialogue and eventually a character, “I am grateful to see Filipinos have a great way to celebrate and share the unique aspects of their culture with a wider audience,” Aleizay reflected.
“Her [Beabadoobee] sound is unique in the way you can tell it’s heavily influenced by her upbringing in Iloilo City,” Josh Lachica, a freshman at the University of Hawai‘i West O‘ahu, expresses. Beabadoobee’s songs reflect on topics such as “It’s okay not to be okay,” childhood occurrences that influenced her present self, and many more. After analyzing today’s mainstream artists of Filipino descent like Beabadoobee, it seems they chose to pay homage to their culture by incorporating cultural elements and childhood events to which Filipinos and a vast audience can relate. Josh explains it best as he noticed, “She [Beabadoobee] lets her music speak about her culture and lets it reach you naturally.”
With Filipino representation in most media forms, it has also inspired youth to be a part of it. For example, Kyani Bateman, a senior at Kamehameha School Maui, built an audience from her extensive modeling background, former Miss Maui Teen USA title, and countless community service events. As her audience grew, Kyani saw this as an opportunity and created “a platform of community awareness, multicultural and multiethnic education. With this platform, I plan community events and give lessons all around the state about other cultures and how we all can come together to make our community healthier, stronger, and more sustainable.” Through her platform, she hopes she “will be able to teach others more about Filipino activists like her (Gabriela Silang, Filipino social activist, one of Kyani’s role model), to everyone excited to learn.”
Impactful activists, famous music artists, TV shows, movies, and other media forms’ incorporation of Filipino culture have not gone unnoticed as all generations, especially the youth, have celebrated all the homages of Filipino culture. From building a stronger sense of identity, recognizing certain events and stories as connections between diverse cultures and audiences, and influential upbringing platforms, all are keen roles in Filipino representation and impacting youth because in the words of Kyani, “Our ethnicities are a part of the root of our foundation to our journey in life.”
Google® Is Not Everything is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Jazmyne Faith Viloria, a Senior at Maui High School. She is a member of SaberScribes (Maui High’s journalism club), Historian of the Video Club and Team Captain of Blue Thunder, Maui High’s Robotics club. Jazmyne is in the ACOM Pathway at Maui High, focusing on videography and photography. In her free time, she sews and refashions old clothes, journals, edits photos/videos and loves to analyze lyrics in songs. She is the daughter of Ruth Sagisi and Rudy Viloria.