Breaking Through the Mango Ceiling

Everywhere you look ethnic groups are oppressed and kept at a lower level than those in power simply because they are different or aren’t given access to what they need to succeed as a people. I belong to group of people who have very often been overlooked in the history of America because we are just another blemish on the shining record of the world’s largest country. I am a descendant of Pilipino immigrants in the United States.

Womyn face a glass ceiling, Asians face a bamboo ceiling, but we Pilipino face a limit to our collective success as well. The Mango Ceiling. I call it this because Pilipinos are a largely unexplored ethnic group to most people even though we have been integral in the history of the US and California culture. Many people do not know much about the Philippines and less about people from the islands. Our most well-known/delicious export, besides rice, is the yellow mango which is primarily the only thing anyone knows about us.

It is hard to describe the people of the Philippines because although technically in Asia, we aren’t thought of as

the typical Asians(Korean, Chinese, Japanese) but more distinctive in our culture like Indians or Middle Easterners, but also different from pacific island people. We have practices and traditions separate from Asian ones mainly because of the colonization and foreign influence throughout our history. Most Pilipinos have a little Spanish blood and possibly even Japanese or Chinese. Ninety percent of the country even speaks English. We have been conquered, brutalized and taken advantage of because we are an island based people which made it harder to resist foreign organized armies. So therefore our ties to the old traditions of our ancestors are slowly fading away, especially with the new industrialization and globalization.

Most Asian cultures including Indians have a stereotype of being academically superior and having higher standards, but Pilipinos are looked at as non-academic because of our dissimilar culture. We have not been grouped with the “smart” stereotype also because we have not been exposed to enough of the America population to have any stereotype besides island dwelling mango lovers who often become nurses or janitors. Pilipinos are a very hard working people who do what it takes to survive, which is clearly evident by our participation in the California farming industry in the mid-1900s, and in every hospital or building with a cleaning staff. We have had to scrap to survive leading to a less available time for school. Recently families have been trying to maintain a high standard for schooling in order to get out of hard labor jobs and poverty.

I personally fell into a trap though. This trap has caused identity crises and culture classes throughout our society. I

often try to be something that I am not. Balancing my love of a close knit family, the love of a good woman, with the desires of a grand life and how that manifests itself through my actions has separated my being. I can’t make confident decisions anymore because I don’t really know myself anymore. I used to be able to read what I like and dislike, but it gets more difficult by day trying to make the right choice for what I hopefully want in the future. I think I need to refocus my core values and passions because those never lead me astray, but the pursuit of a superficial life has.