The “Other” Students: Filipino Americans, Education, and Power

reviewed by Nicole Blalock - April 28, 2014

coverTitle: The “Other” Students: Filipino Americans, Education, and Power
Author(s): Dina C. Maramba, Rick Bonus
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1623960738, Pages: 370, Year: 2013
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The “Other” Students: Filipino Americans, Education, and Power, edited by Maramba and Bonus, is a collection of essays reviewing the impacts of historical colonialism and inherited contemporary cultural and identity paradigms on the educational access and success of Filipino American students. Despite projections that Filipino Americans will become the largest Asian American population in the United States, Filipino American students often fall out of numerical significance in large-scale data. Thus, the editors assembled this anthology in an effort to problematize the assumed homogeneity created when Filipino American students are categorized with Asian American students. Accordingly, the collection addresses a wide range of issues from history, the intersections of classroom and identity development, culturally relevant pedagogical practices for education and mental health, and the impacts of diverse educational policies on the lives of “othered” Filipino American students.

Although the Philippines are no longer formally colonized, like the land of the United States , the authors in this collection argue that both the continuity of the time periods between colonization and post-colonization of the archipelago, and the status of Filipino Americans living and being educated in a colonized country (the United States) under colonial norms, have created a disjointed sense of history, identity, and status. In the same manner of the schooling history of Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere (see for example, Adams, 1995; Cahill, 2011; Deloria & Wildcat, 2001; and Hoxie, 1984), Filipino American schooling and identities have been shaped by imposed Eurocentric ideals. Readers familiar with the history of schools in the United States will easily connect with the concept and frameworks of miseducation as a racial and colonial other.

Likewise, this text illustrates that while “colonialism has ended, coloniality continues” (p. 13). Part I of the text is particularly compelling and a major strength of the text as its chapters map these historical foundations for readers to frame and understand the contemporary realities of Filipino American education. This section of the book includes: Chapter Onein which authors Leonardo and Matias develop the argument that colonial education may be a site for both subjugation and a point of resistance moving forward; Chapter Twoin which Vagara Jr. explores the influence of assimilation and socioeconomic class structures on Filipino identities at the time of nation-building; and Chapter Threein which Hsu shows how rather than modeling the Philippine school system after premier institutions in the United States, the system was constructed on the same model as the Bureau of Indian Education schools. These chapters show how rather than supporting Philippine nation-building via the development of strong political and educational structures, the United States treated Filipinos as aboriginal others who ought to aspire to Eurocentric ideals, while simultaneously constructing institutions designed to create a working class society throughout the early 1900s.

An additional strength of the book is the large number of chapters devoted to tertiary institutions. Nearly one-third of the collection focuses on higher education, including: Chapter Fivein which Vea surveys and disaggregates analyses of Asian American and Pacific Islander college student experiences to illuminate the heterogeneity of more than 40 Asian ethnicities; Chapter Sixin which Nadal proposes that mental health professional development for Filipino Americans might look more like that offered Latinos due to similar colonial histories resulting in large Catholic conversion and the uptake of the English language; Chapter Twelvein which Okamura examines the results of eliminating race-based affirmative action in the college admissions process in California and extreme tuition hikes in Hawai’i on Filipino enrollment; Chapter Thirteenin which Monzon explores self-esteem of Filipino American college students; Chapter Fourteenin which Buenavista discusses patterns of underemployment of highly educated Filipinos immigrating to the United States, as well as the damage of assuming educational privilege and social capital of their children attending college in the United States as second-generation college students; and Chapter Sixteenin which Maramba and Nadal survey humanities faculty to understand where and how Filipino American faculty are employed in tertiary institutions. These chapters all offer insights into institutional barriers in getting to, and succeeding in, college for Filipino Americans. Generally, the authors are studying issues that are brought on by institutional structures which assume homogeneity of the Filipino American experience as related to that of other Asian American students. The authors posit that understanding the Filipino American experience (and consequently higher education professional development around mentoring and health) is and should be more aligned with frameworks used with Latino students.

While strong in exploring issues of higher education access and success, and historical influences of coloniality on contemporary Filipino identity, status, and education, Maramba’s and Bonus’s collection does have some limitations as well. While this is certainly an important and necessary topic, and this book is a great introduction to issues of equity in Filipino American education, alignment between and among chapters is certainly lacking. For example, the structures in place that contribute to immigration to the United States, underemployment, and the resulting lower economic status of Filipino American families were particularly powerful themes in Tintiangco-Cubales’ Chapter Seven and Chapter Fourteen (above), yet these themes lacked thorough analysis in other places in of the book. A stronger analysis of these themes, transitioning from Part I throughout the rest of the text, that addresses how the public school system has developed from the time it was instituted into what it is today would strengthen the overall narrative of the text, particularly because the reader is left to tease out how the continuity of coloniality contributes to the desire to Americanize and immigrate to the US.

In addition, the text offers just three short chapters on pre-collegiate schooling, including: Tomas’ ethnographic Chapter Fifteen, illustrating the mistiming of sexual health education; Coloma’s Chapter Nine which studies the depth of treatment of Filipina/os in high school history texts; and Chapter Eight – in which Halagao discusses the development of Filipino American-centered curricula. As well, the final three chapters of the book are more broadly theoretical and include: Chapter Four – in which Andersen discusses identity construction within the ways we are schooled and the ways academic knowledge is created; Chapter Ten – in which Jocson proposes the practice of Kuwento (story) and Karaoke as culturally appropriate pedagogical practices; and Chapter Eleven – in which Tiongson Jr. lays a basis for remapping Filipino American studies as a discipline. Organizationally, like the chapters discussed above, these are separated across the themes of identities, pedagogies, and policies throughout the main text. However, this organization can feel disjointed when chapters within a thematic section abruptly switch between theory, K-12 educational settings, and university settings.

That being said, while it is unfortunate the book does not address the issues of how and why the conditions due to colonialism in the Philippines translate into migration to the US, underemployment, and the miseducation of Filipino American students more explicitly, that does not detract from its primary contribution. This edited book does yield a greater understanding of the position that Filipino American students occupy and into which they have been situated and placed as members of immigrant families deeply affected by colonial histories and continuing coloniality.

Likewise, the editors set out to seek an answer to the question: “What does it mean to talk about Filipino Americans as the ‘others’ in the field of education and within the context of relationships of power in contemporary society?” (p. xxxii). The editors of the text, overall, certainly answer this question, although again, I believe the collected writings could still benefit from more emphasis on, and integration of, their grander ideas regarding the relationships of power from the Philippines to the US and how they haves worked to marginalize this unique population. As well, the editors “call on educators, social scientists, humanists, policymakers, and community activists to be sensitive to these perspectives…[and] to combat invisibility and exclusion” (p. xxxiv); this too is begun with this text, and yields a potentially substantive contribution. Collectively, these pieces serve as an introduction into a complex history and contemporary issues that certainly require more attention in the educational research literature so as to dismantle the miseducation of Filipino American students in US schools.


Adams, D. W. (1995). Education for extinction: American Indians and the boarding school experience, 1875-1928. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.

Cahill, C. D. (2011). Federal fathers and mothers: The United States Indian Service, 1869-1933. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Deloria, V., Jr., & Wildcat, D. R. (2001). Power and place: Indian education in America. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing.

Hoxie, F.E. (1984). A final promise: The campaign to assimilate the Indians, 1880-1920. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: April 28, 2014 ID Number: 17517, Date Accessed: 10/22/2021 9:53:43 PM

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