Comic-Con sparks backlash, debate over use of controversial term ‘Filipinx’

COMIC CON FILIPINX TERM
  • San Diego Comic-Con International drew criticism online over the use of the controversial term “Filipinx” as an alternative to “Filipino” on their social media posts.
  • The term reportedly trended on Twitter Philippines, with many social media users telling the public, specifically the U.S. and Filipino Americans, to stop referring to Filipinos as “Filipinx” because “Filipino” is already a gender-neutral term.
  • Many Filipinos believe the term “Filipinx” imposes a Western intervention on the Tagalog language which already demonstrates gender-neutrality. Thus, the term “Filipinx” is seen as useless and offensive.
  • However, the controversial term “Filipinx” remains a self-identifier used by many Filipino Americans, many of whom believe that the term rejects a post-colonial identity given by colonizers and provides Filipinos a choice in self-expression.

Comic-Con International drew criticism online over the use of the controversial term “Filipinx” on their social media posts.

San Diego Comic-Con International (SDCC), a convention dedicated to celebrating the history and culture of comic books, held their annual event this year from July 21 to 24.

A group photo celebrating Comic-Con’s program “Filipinx Voices in Pop Culture,” which took place at the Omni Hotel on July 21, was shared to the official social media accounts of SDCC.

“The Filipinx Voices in Pop Culture was a fun and educational all Filipinx panel discussing Filipinx influences behind your favorite media!” the post on Twitter and Facebook reads. 

The program, which highlighted the Filipino American influences on pop culture, included guests Alix Catherine (content creator, “The Welcome Party”), Earl Baylon (voice actor, “Tomb Raider” series), Mitch Narito (actor, “The Good Place”), Andrea A. Walter (film director and cinematographer), Law Sharma (senior content producer, Cinemablend) and JPG (pop-culture consultant, InterMyth).

Instead of garnering praise and support from the Filipino community, SDCC was hit with backlash for using the term “Filipinx” to refer to the Filipino American guest panelists. 

The term reportedly trended on Twitter Philippines, with many social media users telling the public, specifically the U.S. and Filipino Americans, to stop referring to Filipinos as “Filipinx.”

Dictionary.com, a popular online dictionary, added “Filipinx” to its database in September 2020, and describes the term as “people of Philippine origin or descent, especially those living in the United States (used in place of the masculine form Filipino or the feminine form Filipina).”

The term, which was inspired by the same intention behind the term “Latinx,” was created and promoted to be a gender-neutral alternative for “Filipino” or “Filipina.” However, many Filipinos have since denounced the new word as the historical title “Filipino” is already a gender-neutral term. 

“Gentle reminder that ‘Filipino’ is already a gender-neutral term,” one user tweeted. “People who say ‘Filipinx’ are just Filipino-Americans who think eating Lumpia and Jollibee is what makes you Filipino. Please do not use ‘Filipinx.’” 

“They can call themselves Filipinx-Americans if that’s what they want, but it doesn’t apply to Filipinos,” another user wrote. “Calling Filipinos ‘Filipinx’ is pushing colonialism, we don’t have X in the alphabet. That’s pretty basic, if you’re so much into culture and being inclusive, [study it first].”

While the word “Filipina” exists and it may be used as a feminine version of “Filipino,” the Philippines identifies its citizens as “Filipinos” regardless of gender identity. 

The debate of “Filipino vs. Filipinx” has sparked online discussions of colonialism and identity. For the most part, Filipino Americans argue that “Filipino” is a post-colonial identity given by colonizers. Many Filipinos who are a part of the LGBT-plus community also feel that the historical term invalidates those who do not identify with the traditional gender binary. 

However, many Filipinos, especially those who are born and reside in the Philippines, believe the term “Filipinx” imposes a Western intervention on the Tagalog language that already demonstrates gender-neutrality. For example, the Tagalog language uses gender-neutral terms, such as siya (he or she), kapatid (brother, sister or sibling), anak (son or daughter) and asawa (husband or wife). Thus, the term “Filipinx” is seen as useless and offensive.  

Nanette Caspillo, a former University of the Philippines professor of European languages, told Vice that “‘Filipinx’ is an unnatural term because the suffix ‘-x’ does not exist in the Philippine linguistic system.” 

“[Language] is the human expression of man’s interior and exterior reality. The word [‘Filipinx’] does not naturally evoke a meaning that reflects an entity in reality,” Caspillo added, noting that Filipinos in the Philippines do not recognize or assert “Filipinx” as their identity. 

Nevertheless, the controversial term “Filipinx” remains a self-identifier used by many Filipino Americans, with many believing that the term provides Filipinos a choice in self-expression.

“As a Filipinx-American I mostly appreciate the use of ‘x’ in Filipinx/Pilpinx as a way of signaling a more inclusive and safer space for myself and my peers, as someone that has experienced so much transphobia in most of the Filipino community spaces I have been a part of growing up,” Jade Phoenix Martinez, a trans performance poet and actress in Los Angeles, was quoted as saying. 

“Language is shaped by the history of its people and the reality where it finds itself, including the laws of nature. Like anything bound in space and time, language evolves,” Caspillo told Vice.  

 

Featured Image via Comic Con

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