7 Radical Filipina Women You Should Know
June 21, 2016 by Maya Gittelman

Trigger warnings: mention of violence against trans women

The Philippines encompasses over 7,600 islands, over 180 ethnic groups, and over 19 dialects. Philippine-Americans make up the second largest demographic of Asian peoples in the United States, and our diaspora of overseas Pilipinx (a gender neutral term for those of Philippine descent) is up to around ten million — and yet we are largely unrecognized and overlooked in world and local history. Even though we are a massive percentage of the population and Pililpinx have made incredible contributions to art, medicine, music, and much more, the world hasn’t recognized us beyond our role as the colonized, and as menial laborers. I’m here to change that.

From the 10th century AD, we traded with China, and by the 1200s, Arab merchants introduced Islam to the many native faiths that we practiced. Our Southeast archipelago location led to wave after wave of Austronesian trade and travel, and our cultures were enriched with Malay and Hindu influence. Much else has been forgotten, for with Spanish interest in the 1500s came Spanish colonizers — our country’s original name was lost, much of our developing cultures destroyed, and we were labeled the Philippines for the Spanish King Philip II.

It is painful, to understand that my heritage, once a palimpsest and pastiche of native cultures, has been reformatted by our colonizers. For after Spain came American rule, then Japanese torment, and then the full force of America’sbenevolent assimilation, which is basically white supremacy and cultural genocide.

Today, we are still perceived as little more than someone’s nanny or your grandparents’ nurse (and both of those careers receive far too little gratitude and recognition). The truth is, we are a thriving native people who celebrate the multitudes of cultures we have developed — the erasure of this truth and the lack of respect for our care-based work is the continuation of white supremacy, of cultural genocide.

So today, and always, I want to recognize the Philippines. I want to recognize our contributions, our presence, our pain, our politics. The Pilipinx who still live in the homeland still have a long way to go to restore our government from the tyrants who prey on the impoverished — we are not a perfect country, we are still learning and reclaiming. But we must recognize those who have forged ahead.

I want to name some of the too-long nameless Filipinas whose names we should speak today, this month, and always. We too are activists. We too are fighters, lovers, creators. I wish I could name us all, but here are just a few radical Filipinas you should know.


AD AGE: AD Buyer’s Guide

I did this set of spots for an AD AGE guide to buying “programmatic ads.” These were for a glossary section defining the terms of the trade. (Namely: “AD FRAUD,” when advertising sellers use bots to rack up click rates, “GEO TARGETING,” “USER/DEVICE ID’s,” two ways advertisers use our information to target a specific demographic.) Thanks to Jesper Goransson for the assignment!