Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15th through October 15th. Politics of special interest months aside -- sometimes referred to tongue-in-cheek as "Hispandering" when it comes to Hispanics -- several online publications have been exploring why Filipinos may also be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.
Most interesting among these articles is Rezmecla's "10 Reasons Why Latinos and Filipinos Are Primos." Number one reason? The Philippines was part of the Spanish empire for more than 300 years (much longer than Mexico!), emerging with strong Spanish influences that could also be found in Latin America and other countries once colonized by Spain.
Beyond being highly entertaining -- and controversial, judging from the comments -- Rezmecla raises the interesting question of who's Hispanic. The Pew Research Centerpoints out that anyone can identify as Hispanic on the Census survey if they choose to. However, government agencies such as schools and public health facilities rely on a 1976 law defining Hispanics as “Americans who identify themselves as being of Spanish-speaking background and trace their origin or descent from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America and other Spanish-speaking countries.”
Though Spanish was the lingua franca of the Philippines in the 19th century, today Spanish does not even make the top 5 national languages in the Philippines. Thus, Filipinos probably could not claim Hispanicity under the 1976 law. However, under the Census rules, Filipinos may self-identify as Hispanic and, indeed, 1% of immigrantsfrom the Philippines do so.
The complex history of the Philippines (which was also briefly colonized by the U.S. and Japan) extends its reach into the lives of Filipinos in America, and the researchers at ML-SAAF hope the ML-SAAF survey results will help illuminate it.