This March, we visited the Casa Gorordo Museum in the Filipino city of Cebu. During the tour, the term “mestizo” was often brought up – a Latino word meaning “of mixed ethnic background.” While the Museum used “mixed mestizo” to introduce the Philippines, from the perspective of someone from Canada or Taiwan I couldn’t help but wonder if “mixed mestizo” would be the right term to use?
In the Philippines, we experienced how multiculturalism is not just a social/cultural idea – it is an active part of life. From a different perspective, it is also part of forming a new culture. In the Philippines, almost everyone has a complicated bloodline. Throughout the nation, there are even as many as 182 different language and dialects. To this day, Taiwan (which shares in the history of the migration of Austronesian languages like the Philippines) also has indigenous communities that speak almost identical languages and share similar customs to indigenous on the Philippine island of Bataan.
In an age where travel around the world has already become common, and migration an activity of individual families rather than entire tribes, would the word “mestizo” be fitting for the Canada of today let alone tomorrow? According to statistics from the 2011 Canadian oral census, there are already over 200 languages considered to be mother tongues or otherwise spoken at home.
Modern studies have established Taiwan as the root of the Austronesian languages and peoples. Thousands of years ago, a group of Taiwanese aboriginals brought a collection of farming and navigational knowledge with them to the Philippines, sharing their knowledge with the local Negrito culture…
…does this story sound familiar?