In Singapore: Are Filipinos Malay?

(taken from Form 8 - MOM)

Race…Been wondering which one to put a tick mark?

Under the ‘RACE’ field, there are only 5 items to choose: Caucasian, Chinese, Indian, Malay and Others.

And for Filipinos (true-blooded, with no significant traces of Caucasian, Chinese or other Asian or Western or even African blood in them), most of the time we will choose  ‘Malay‘ as our race.  This is what we learned at school. This is what our teachers taught us.

Yes, every Filipino is right…Malay race is the brown race. And, Filipinos belong to the brown race.

This is purely based on classifying the race on the color of the skin. A Caucasian is classified as belonging to the white race, an African as black, a Chinese belonging to the yellow race, and so on.

Furthermore, Wikipedia defines that “…many Filipinos consider the term “Malay” to refer to the indigenous population of the country as well as the indigenous population of neighboring countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.”  This is because we were taught that the ancestors of indigenous Filipinos came from Malaysia and Indonesia.  Well, this is still being contested by some anthropologists in which there is another stronger claim that migration of early Filipinos came from Taiwan.

So much for that, let’s go back to the topic…which one to choose then?

The population of Singapore consists mainly of Chinese, Malay and Indian descent.  Being once a part of Malaysia, Singapore has been settled by ethnic Malays since then.  Now, together with the descendants of early Malay settlers and immigrants from Malaysia and Indonesia, they constitute the Malay population in Singapore.

So, Filipinos, next time you fill in something about ‘race’ in Singapore…choose ‘Others‘ instead.

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13 Comments on “In Singapore: Are Filipinos Malay?”

  1. BLINK says:

    Filipinos are not malay… there is no such thing malay race.. Southeast Asia, Oceania and even the coast of Africa are AUSTRONESIAN from southern china and Taiwan then they migrated to Philippines then spread to South East Asia and Oceania… watch this.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuDqAD2VtDQ

  2. Don says:

    i think mr. Seb has the best reply of all, in 1994, we migrated to Batam Indonesia for my father’s work, and for our schooling, they were planning then to send us to an International School in Singapore, both in Indonesia and Singapore, we were always mistaken of being Vietnamese, Chinese, even a Chinese local of Singapore, my Mama was also mistaken if not a Japanese, maybe a Taiwanese, and never a Filipino, as for my Father, people thought that he is of Indian descent, … weird… and MAJORITY of the people back then, doesn’t know Philippines, they would ask, where?, then my mom would say,, Manila,,, and that’s the only time they’ll be contented,, but we are staying here in the Philippines since 1996, life is better here, both in Spirit and Monetarily. ;)

  3. Ron says:

    I would never say we look like Malays. For me, we look more of Indonesians. I asked one Indonesian before if I look like a common face in their country, as I believe. What they replied was I look more of Indonesian-Dutch mixed. In fact, my father is of hispanic descent and dominant features can really be observed. Unfortunately, I got my skin color and height from my mom’s side (making me look more Filipino than hispanic). Malays and other Singaporeans also have never mistaken me as a Malay. There is really an irrefutable fact that we are of mixed-race as far as skin-color and facial features are concerned. Ergo, I would never claim myself of being from Malay race. I am only a Filipino.

  4. Jackie says:

    I really hate the term ‘Malay race’, it is so false, outdated & very confusing. The correct one should be Austronesian which encompasses all the native people from Maritime Southeast Asia, Pacific Islanders & Madagascar. As far as I know, the term ‘Malay race’ in Singapore means someone who is ethnically Malay as in people from Malaysia and Indonesia who share the same language and customs. In Malaysia where Singapore was once a part of it, a person is considered Malay if he is a Muslim practicing Malay culture regardless if he is Austronesian or not. Since Filipinos (except the Southern part) don’t speak Bahasa nor practice the Islamic faith nor Malay customs so they cannot be considered Malay by Singaporean standards.

    Plus even if the vast majority of Filipinos belong to the Austronesian race, not everyone is. I myself is a Filipino Mestiza & I look more Caucasian than ‘Malay’ both in face & body structure so when I went to Singapore last 2010, I got a lot of stares from the locals especially the Indians who thought I was one of them & if I would consider myself a Malay, people would just laugh at me. That said, Filipinos being of ‘Malay race’ thing that the teachers taught us in school is very false & can be somewhat a form of discrimination since it made us to think that one must look like a Southeast Asian to be considered a ‘Filipino’ whereas a Mestizo or a Chinoy born & raised in the Philippines cannot be a Filipino simply because they don’t fit into the ‘Malay look’. To be honest that thing made me confused also & even question my Filipino identity for the same reason that I mentioned. Filipino is NOT a race, it is a NATIONALITY.

  5. […] was ICA’s clarification that Filipinos who become citizens here are not labeled as “Malay” in their NRIC. Troubled if it was true, tickled as I realised that it could not have been […]

  6. Singapura our country says:

    Becoming Malay for the sake of getting the PR ???
    But … lacking the goodwill to be part of the Malay community …

  7. roro says:

    just a human: singapore was not used to be part of indonesia, it was used to be part of malaysia,

  8. viewer says:

    Hi,
    I’m Malay in Malaysia. From the history it self..yes..you guys are Malay..It happens like now on bcuz of the 333 years spanish job & the rest is for American job. Hurm..so be proud of it :)

  9. Seb says:

    You cannot generalize the Philippines.

    Look, it’s the only former Spanish colony in Asia. The best way to understand it is to look at Latin America, get a map and study the Manila Galleon trade.

    The further you go north (closer to the coasts of China), the more “Chinese” their features get (ie. Ilocanos, etc.). The further south (closer to Indonesia/Malaysia) you go, the more “Malay” (ie. Moros) it gets.

    The closer you get to the cities with Forts, Ports and Industries (ie. Manileños, Caviteños, Cebuanos, Nueva Ecija, Bacolod, Zamboanga) – the more “Mestizo” it gets. Mestizo as in mixed between Malay, Chinese, Spanish, Latin American Mestizo and Amerindian.

    The Philippines, like Latin America, has the strongest tradition of racial mixing. This is partly because of Catholicism that broke down barriers between races. As a social experiment, ask any Filipino which is easier to marry – a Muslim Malaysian or a Catholic Latino? :)

    • Jackie says:

      Neither of them really if there is no connection. Religion isn’t & will never be the center of one’s social harmony. I’m a Catholic but a lot of my friends are Protestants & Muslims. Also the two sweetest guys that I met are Protestant (Baptist) & Muslim respectively. See its the personality & connection that counts, not the religion.

      • Seb says:

        Of course, individuality is a major factor. But at the end of the day, culture matters both for an individual and uhmm.. their parents. Majority of cultural influences emanate from religion. What you eat, what you wear, how a woman should be treated, how many wives you can marry, your annual calendar and celebrations – all those emanate from religion.

        And for majority of Filipino individuals (and families), it is much easier to “navigate” the culture of fellow Christians vs those of other non-Catholic SE Asians.

  10. Just a Human says:

    Singapore has always been a Malay country. It used to be part of Indonesia. The Chinese are the immigrants that came to Singapore to work. Also Filipinos are really Malays. They come from Malay descendants.

  11. Daeng says:

    Tony Castillo and alot more old Malay Artist in Singapore and Malaysia were filipinos and born in Manila but they are classified as Malay in their Pink IC in Singapore, and proud. Some of my Filipina friends identify themselves as Malay and put that on their PR IC in Singapore back in 1996


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