The term Amerasian specifically refers to an individual born in Asia to an Asian parent (usually the mother) and a US military parent (usually the father). They are also known as war babies or GI babies. In the Philippines, there are several Amerasians mostly living in Angeles City, Pampanga and in Metro Manila, with a handful scattered all over the country.
Writer and Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck coined the term Amerasian. However, the official definition of Amerasian as we know it today was only made through Public Law 97-359 of the 97th Congress of the United States. As previously mentioned, Amerasian refers to the children of Asian women and US military officials from various East Asian and Southeast Asian nations as a result of wars in the region, namely, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War. The Philippines, however, was not initially considered as having Amerasians. This exclusion was made despite the Philippines having the largest US air and naval bases outside of the United States mainland during that period.
The Philippines had a total of 21 US bases until they closed in 1992. The sudden closure of these bases left behind thousands of children who would later identify themselves as Amerasians. Based on academic studies, there are five locations of previous bases around the country with the most number of Amerasians. These are (1) Olongapo (Subic Bay Naval Base), (2) Angeles City (Clark Air Base), (3) Metro Manila (Naval Station Sangley Point and Nichols Field), (4) Cebu (Mactan Air Base), and (5) Leyte (Tacloban Air Base).
Culture and Inclusion
The racial background of the American parent is considered non-essential in terms of the Filipino Amerasian community. Therefore, Philippine Amerasians could have Black, Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American, or even Asian American parents.
Throughout the decades, Amerasians are spread throughout different socioeconomic classes. However, Filipino Amerasians are considered to be lesser in social status relative to other East and Southeast Asian counterparts. Moreover, Filipino Amerasians cannot easily immigrate to the United States as the law does not include them due to several reasons stipulated by the court. One of such reasons is that the Philippines was not a war zone despite having US military bases. Plus, the nature of the relationship and conception of the Amerasian children are not protected and recognized by the US court. With this kind of legal standing, the majority of Filipino Amerasians receive little to no assistance from either the Philippine or American governments.
Many of the opposing notions about Amerasians are remnants of the war period. Sadly, these negative stereotypes make it challenging for the Amerasian generations to belong in the local society. Despite these challenges, it is not surprising that Filipino Amerasians have shared the distinct indigenous cultures, beliefs, and even traditions of the Philippines. Moreover, with more than two decades since the closure of the US military bases, Filipino Amerasian children have been finding their way through society and trying to gain proper representation in their respective socio-political and socio-economic fields. The future for better social inclusion is looking more hopeful, though it may take time.
Ethnic Groups Philippines. Amerasian people
Kutschera, P.C., Pelayo, J.M., & Talamera-Sandico, M. G. (2009). The Continuing Conundrum of Southeast Asia’s 50,000 Filipino Military ‘Amerasians’
Kutschera, P.C., Pelayo, J.M. (2012). Online Conference on Multidisciplinary Social Sciences – 29-31 March 2012. The Amerasian Paradox