Date of Graduation

Fall 12-16-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International and Multicultural Education (IME)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education (IME)

First Advisor

Dr. Rosa M. Jiménez


Filipinos make up the third largest immigrant population in the United States and are the largest Asian immigrant group in California (U.S. Census, 2010). Despite this and an American colonial past, the American education system has failed to depict Filipino and Filipino American history accurately in its textbooks and courses. In addition to this, studies have indicated that young Filipino Americans often have difficulties in defining their identities. It is imperative that we recognize how this issue of identity formation is being addressed in postsecondary institutions through Philippine Studies courses, which employ decolonizing pedagogies.

This thesis paper analyzes the role that Philippine Studies courses in the San Francisco/Bay Area play in exploring identities among Filipino American students. It aims to highlight the importance of supporting these classes as students find it as one, and sometimes the only, avenue to discover their roots. Data supporting this study came from three types of sources: two class observations, two interviews, and 16 surveys. The qualitative data provided by the sources were analyzed and organized into themes. The students’ responses indicated that most often have to negotiate being American with their Filipino identity. They also show that students struggle with fulfilling personal, family, and societal expectations especially regarding their educational and career paths. Most importantly, the participants voiced a strong desire to learn about their Filipino heritage and culture, which was the reason why most of them are in their respective Philippine Studies courses.

Defining Filipino American identity is an arduous task, made more difficult by a lack of opportunities in K-12 for students to learn about Ethnic Studies, and Philippine Studies in particular. While many of the students interviewed are still in the beginning phase of their self-discovery, it is clear that courses in community colleges and universities and other programs that are designed to support Filipino American students in their journey to decolonization and exploring their identity are critical and valuable.