Filipino mestizo

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Demographics of the Philippines

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Filipino mestizo is a term used in the Philippines, to designate Filipino peoples of mixed Austronesian and European ancestry. The term "Mestizo" originally referred to Filipinos of part Austronesian and Spanish or Indigenous Mexican ancestry. However the use of the term eventually extended over time to include all native Filipinos who posses other foreign ancestries. "Filipino mestizo" refer to specific minor communities of mixed ancestry whose origins stem from the mixture of Spanish, Anglo-Saxon and Chinese ancestry. As a result, a small minority of present-day Filipinos carry Spanish, Mexican, American and southern Chinese ancestry.

According to recent genetic study, 3.6% of Filipinos possess Spanish, Mexican or other European ancestry, although the average amount of European admixture among them was not specified. (It is interesting to note, however, that data gathered in the 1818 census suggests that 60% of all the inhabitants of Luzon possess foreign ancestry.. [1] These specific Filipinos would all be mestizo, since 1) the European contribution was made in the recent human history of the archipelago 2) it was not a generalised phenomenon in the overall population, and 3) the community resulting from the admixture became recognisably independent in ethnic identity, social standing, cultural practices, and linguistic heritage.



During the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines, the term "Mestizo" referred only to those of mixed indigenous Filipino with Spanish and Indigenous Mexican ancestry. The term soon became generic and synonym|synonymous for "mixed race".

The term has since been freely used to refer to all Filipinos of mixed ancestry, irrespective of racial combination or ratio, but typically including an Austronesian base stock. The combined number of all types of mestizos constitute no more than 4% of the entire Filipino population. Of that 4%, less than half are of the Spanish variety. A recent genetic study by Stanford University, indicates that 3.6% of the population have Spanish, Mexican or other European ancestry.

See also Demographics of the Philippines, Ethnic groups of the Philippines.

Modern day Filipino mestizos include the already mentioned Filipino Spanish-Mexican mestizos, as well as Chinese mestizos, Japanese mestizos (those of mixed Austronesian and Japanese descent) and American mestizos (those of mixed Austronesian and American1 descent). Those of a mixture of Austronesian with another East Asian ancestry may also be commonly referred to as "Chinito/a" (diminutive of Chino/a; Chinese), though this would more correctly be applied only to those mestizos of Chinese descent. Other terms denoting Chinese mestizos, include Sangley and the vernacular "Tsinoy".

Mestizo ascendancy

Upon the retreat of Spain at the end of colonial occupation, mestizos were able to position themselves at top of the social structure which the Spanish had previously established and dominated. As a result, mestizos held the greatest governing influence in the country, almost absolute control of commerce and industry. (See also Principalía.)

Spanish mestizos have long constituted the great majority of the upper and middle class and rarely intermingle with those outside their ethnic group. Today, a great majority are either in politics, commerce / industries, entertainment or sporting ranks and hold great control over the country's economy.

Chinese mestizos also form part of both the upper and middle classes. Many are business people and also involved in the running of the country. Some are also in the entertainment industry.

Types of Filipino mestizos

Main articles: Ethnic groups in the Philippines and Overseas Filipino

Spanish or Mexican mestizo

Spanish mestizos (in Spanish: mestizos españoles/mejicanos Tagalog: mestisong Kastila or Kastilaloy): a combination of Austronesian with Spanish or Indigenous Mexicans. Their features are distinguished by their mediterranean or amerindian physique, possessing aquiline nose structures, light to dark wavy hair, generally lighter skinned peoples with olive to light brown complexions. Filipinos of Spanish or Mexican ancestry living in the Phlippines speaks Filipino, Spanish and English as their primary language. Some, particularly those of the older generation have preserved Spanish as the spoken language of the home. They constitute the great majority of both upper, middle class and rarely intermingle with those outside their ethnic group. A great majority are either in politics or high-ranking executives of commerce and industry. Some can be found in the entertainment and sporting industries. Most elite Filipino family dynasties, political families, and the elite clans are Spanish mestizo. Many Spanish mestizos and Spaniards living in the Philippines emigrated to Spain, Latin America or the United States, following World War II and the Marcos regime.

Chinese mestizo

Main article: Chinese Filipino

Chinese mestizos (in Tagalog, mestisong Intsik or Tsinoy): a combination of Austronesian and Chinese. They are usually lighter skinned people who possess more pronounced epicanthic folds and higher cheekbones, much like the Chinese. These groups, are successful and prosperous business people. They form part of both the upper, middle and lower classes. Some are also in the entertainment industry. Their primary languages are English, Lan-nang-oe, and Filipino. They number just over 1 million and are most concentrated in Manila (Binondo) and Angeles City.

Chinese-Spanish mestizo

Chinese-Spanish or Spanish-Chinese mestizos (in Tagalog, mestisong Kastila-Intsik/Intsik-Kastila): a combination of Spanish and Han Chinese, and/or of Austronesian. Once classified as ‘tornatrás’ during the Spanish colonial period, they now tend to identify as Filipinos of either Spanish or Chinese descent, or both. They form part of the upper and middle classes. Most have remarried with either Spanish or Chinese people. As such, there are only a few thousand of them in the Philippines.

Japanese mestizo

Japanese mestizos: (in Tagalog, mestisong Hapon): a combination of Austronesian with Japanese or Okinawan. Many are descendants of Japanese Catholics that fled Japan 300 years ago and are members of the lower class. Because of discrimination encountered, some fled to the mountains after World War II while many others changed their names in the attempts to assimilate. Many were also killed (c. 10,000 Japanese mestizos and Japanese) while other were deported following World War II as an act of retaliation. Their sense of Japaneseness may take on extremes, some have completely lost their Japanese identity while others have “returned” to Japan, the land of their forebears. There is also a number of contemporary Japanese mestizos, not associated with the history of the earlier established ones, born either in the Philippines or Japan. These latter are the resultant of unions between Filipinos and recent Japanese immigrants to the Philippines or Japanese and immigrant Filipino workers in Japan. Most Japanese mestizos speak tribal languages and Tagalog. There are believed to be between 100,000 and 200,000 Japanese mestizos in the country, but no accurate figure is currently available. Significant numbers reside in Davao, Laguna, Pampanga and Baguio. They may also be known as Japinos, although this term is considered derogatory by many.

American mestizo

American mestizos (in Tagalog, mestisong Amerikano/Kano): a combination of Austronesian and American (regardless of Race (United States Census)|race). They are also known as Amerasians. They can be found in the upper class, but also amongst the middle and lower classes as a result of the abandonment of their American fathers upon completion of military service and subsequent withdrawal of US forces. Their physiognomy and facial features are much like the Spanish mestizos. There are also many American mestizos who are actually of mixed American and Spanish mestizo descent, and the majority of them do have blue or gray eyes and blonde pigmentation, and can pass as unmixed Caucasians. Many Amerasians who have Spanish surnames and born to white American mothers or out of wedlock to white American fathers may be mistaken or called as Spanish Filipino mestizos. The overwhelming majority of Black people in the Philippines who are sometimes classified as African-Filipinos or Afro-Filipino as an umbrella term are of part-African American descent, mostly descending from United States army servicemen. (It should be noted that, unlike in the United States, there are no official Race (United States Census)|race classifications in the Philippines.) The number of American mestizos is thought to be between 20,000 and 30,000. Most speak Filipino and English. The majority are to be found in Angeles City, which has the largest proportion of Amerasians in the Philippines.. [2]

British mestizo

British mestizos: a combination of Austronesian and British descent. Usually used only if one of the parent is directly from the United Kingdom, but can also be expanded to include those of part-Australian or part-Canadian descent. Most of them have similar physiognomy with the Spanish mestizos. Many Amerasians who have Spanish surnames and born to British mothers or out of wedlock to British fathers may be mistaken or called as Spanish Filipino mestizos. Their number is unknown, but is rapidly increasing. British mestizos are considered as overrepresented in the entertainment industry.

Indian mestizo

Indian mestizos: called Bumbay (Tagalog for Indian people|Indian) or "Sepoy" (along with other and more recent unmixed Desi immigrants), their ancestors arrived with the British between 1762 and 1764 during the various Anglo-Spanish wars. Though "Bumbay" would imply India, the term is generic and implies any other South Asian as well (Pakistani, Bangladeshi, etc). When the United Kingdom|British decided to withdrawal, many of their South Asian soldiers (Sepoy) mutinied and refused to leave. Virtually all had taken Filipina brides (or soon did so). They settled in what is now Cainta, Rizal, just east of Metro Manila. The region in and around Cainta still has many Sepoy descendants.

Other types of mestizo

Other types of mestizos from unions of Filipino citizens with other nationalities may also exist, including those with Germans, Italians, Arabs, and Poles, among others. Together they number less than 25,000 (less than 0.03% of the total population of the country), but are nonetheless considered as disproportionately overrepresented in the Philippine entertainment industry.

List of notable Filipino mestizos

The following is a list of notable Filipino citizens who posses mestizo ancestry.

Spanish mestizo

Mexican mestizo

Chinese mestizo

Chinese-Spanish mestizo

Japanese mestizo

American mestizo

British or Australian mestizo

Indian mestizo

Other types of mestizos

See also

  • Mestizo
  • Mulatto
  • Principalía, the ruling class during the Spanish era in the Philippines, comprised mainly of Austronesians and European mestizos


  1. ^ Jagor, Fëdor, et al. (1870). The Former Philippines thru Foreign Eyes.
  2. ^,9754,106430,00.html

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