Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego

Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego

Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego

Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diego

Synopsis

Becoming Mexipino is a social-historical interpretation of two ethnic groups, one Mexican, the other Filipino, whose paths led both groups to San Diego, California. Rudy Guevarra traces the earliest interactions of both groups with Spanish colonialism to illustrate how these historical ties and cultural bonds laid the foundation for what would become close interethnic relationships and communities in twentieth-century San Diego as well as in other locales throughout California and the Pacific West Coast.

Through racially restrictive covenants and other forms of discrimination, both groups, regardless of their differences, were confined to segregated living spaces along with African Americans, other Asian groups, and a few European immigrant clusters. Within these urban multiracial spaces, Mexicans and Filipinos coalesced to build a world of their own through family and kin networks, shared cultural practices, social organizations, and music and other forms of entertainment. They occupied the same living spaces, attended the same Catholic churches, and worked together creating labor cultures that reinforced their ties, often fostering marriages. Mexipino children, living simultaneously in two cultures, have forged a new identity for themselves. Their lives are the lens through which these two communities are examined, revealing the ways in which Mexicans and Filipinos interacted over generations to produce this distinct and instructive multiethnic experience. Using archival sources, oral histories, newspapers, and personal collections and photographs, Guevarra defines the niche that this particular group carved out for itself.

Excerpt

On March 15, 2008, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Marquez squared off for the wbc Super Featherweight Championship of the world. the fight was held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. the fight between Filipino boxer Pacquiao and Mexican boxer Marquez symbolized many things. First, two men—one representing the Philippines and the other Mexico—were competing in a title fight that would garner them and their respective home countries worldwide attention. Their hopes and dreams of economic success were made possible in the United States, where they competed for the title, its cash prize, and bragging rights. Finally, people in the crowd were waving Philippine and Mexico flags, representing the ethnic pride they attached to their respective fighters. Before the fight began, the national anthems of each country were performed. a Filipina represented the Philippines, while a Mexicano performed Mexico’s national anthem.

The U.S. national anthem was notable. There to perform it was fourteenyear-old Jasmine Villegas, a multiethnic Filipina-Mexican, or Mexipina. the image of this Mexipina, who sang her country’s most revered song, sent a powerful message filled with layers of symbolism. Villegas’s mere presence embodied the coming together of two cultures, one Filipino, one Mexican. She signified this union as its product: an American-born, multiethnic Mexipina who embodied this representation of multiplicity in the United States, another reminder echoing President Barack Obama’s words about his own multiracial background when he said, “In no other country on earth is my story even possible.” Her image indeed tells this story. It is the tale of two communities that participated in this country’s economic, social, and cultural development. These communities, one Mexican and the other Filipino, converged, sometimes in competition and in tension but more often in cooperation and coalition to carve a place for themselves and their children. It is a distinct union that has been carried into the twenty-first century. As I watched the event, I knew that this was . . .

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