Filipino American Downward Mobility and other Asian American Data Points from Pew Research

Filipino American Data based on data compiled by the Pew Research Center

After he graduated from high school this year, Number Two Son mentioned to me that one conversation he has continually had with a close Filipino American friend regards how few of their Filipino American peers were ambitious with their college choices.  Their levels of achievement and college choices seemed much low, especially compared to other Asian American students at their Silicon Valley high school and despite that many of their parents were well educated.  While I personally could see some examples, without real data, it was hard to say whether the kids he saw were just cherry picked examples within a self-selected group in an area heavily obsessed with education.  A Pew Research Center compilation of Asian American data shows that Filipino Americans are indeed downward mobile from the initial immigrant generation (data shown above).  This compilation should be useful to people who want to make data driven conclusions about Asian Americans.

The Pew Research Center has conveniently disaggregated data nicely into specific facts sheets for specific Asian American groups.  A blog post looked at the aggregate data, and some of the findings surprised me – there are more than 20 million of us now and growing.   Other interesting facts – Asian Americans are 11.3% of illegal immigrants, with the top country of origin being India (not what I expected).  Asian Americans live in a multi-generational household more frequently than the general population (been there).

The data that shows that Filipino Americans are downward mobile doesn’t explain WHY that is the case.  I looked up some work in that area and found Susan S. Kim’s Ph.D thesis comparing Korean American and Filipino American youth.  The thesis concludes that Korean American communities have education institutions that encourage and support education much more heavily, and that the rapid acculturation that Filipino Americans experience, especially given the colonial history of the Philippines, doesn’t necessarily contribute to better performance.  This makes a lot of sense to me.  Also, I find that Filipinos, like many Americans, buy into the myth that academic performance in things like math is much more from innate abilities rather than hard work.  “Such bullshit!” is Number Two Son’s comment on that myth.

While I find disaggregated data to be very useful, others find the mandated collection of disaggregated data to be objectionable.     Other studies looking at Filipino American downward mobility are here and here (focusing on San Diego), and Susan Kim’s thesis contains many more references.

National Film Society Hosts PBS Online Film Festival

The National Film Society is hosting PBS’ very first online film festival, which premiered on Monday, February 27th. First of all, who’s the National Film Society, you ask?

The NFS consists of Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco as their YouTube channel produces weekly web videos about movies, filmmaking and pop culture with a uniquely brainy and offbeat style. Check out more information on these two amazing hosts on the PBS website.

Each Monday for the next 5 weeks, the National Film Society will introduce a new category of films to explore. The first release is New Stories, which you can check out now. From there, you can check out the central PBS Online Film Festival website for future categories that will be released.

History of Filipino-American DJs at logo

A new website for DJs,, created in part by 8asians alumnus Genghis Mendoza, has a story about how the DJ scene in San Francisco Bay Area became large and influentialTurntablism is now practiced worldwide, and many legendary DJs like Qbert and Babu are Filipino-Americans from the Bay Area.  CSU Long Beach Sociology professor Oliver Wang did his Ph.D dissertation at UC Berkeley on this subject.  “Spinning Identities:  A Social History of Filipino American DJs in the Bay Area” chronicles the history of the mobile DJ scene.  He has created the web site for sharing this work.

The Bay Area DJ scene definitely has had influence, even in my family.  My nephew Ryan Buendia, who is currently a music producer for the Black Eyed Peas, started out as a turntablist and is part of the Fingerbangerz crew .  This DJ crew has produced a lot of music for the dance crew Jabbawockeez.

As I mentioned, is a site where DJs can share and promote their mixes.  Created by Bay Area DJs (Genghis is also a DJ), it too is part of the ongoing heritage that Wang describes.