Robin Aquilizan, Fil-Am Student Fighting Racism Through “Pamana ng Lahi”
Many Filipino parents in the U.S. would get excited looks and animated reactions from their kids whenever they ask them about Captain America, Superman, or Spiderman. However, these would quickly turn into quizzed faces if they ask about Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, or Lapu Lapu.
Who can blame them?
These kids have probably never seen a history book with pictures of legendary figures who look like them: brown-skinned with flat noses.
This was a problem that 21-year-old Robin Aquilizan had as she was growing up. She is also determined to face this head-on and change for the next generation. She believes that Filipino heroes are too great for Fil-Am children to forget.
Robin Aquilizan, spearheading a children’s book series
Aquilizan is an Asian American study major at the San Francisco State University. Aside from her studies, she is also focusing on spearheading a children’s book series that will feature Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Gabriela Silang, and Lapu Lapu.
Does she know about these Filipino heroes who lived more than a hundred years ago and thousands of miles away? She knows that Lapu Lapu is the first in the archipelago to fight Spanish invaders led by Ferdinand Magellan.
She knows that Gabriela Silang led Filipino rebels against the Spaniards. She knows that Jose Rizal advocated for reform of Spanish rule and that Andres Bonifacio sparked a revolution that signaled the end of Spain in the Philippines.
Bayani Art: Pamana ng Lahi
She wants Fil-AM children to know, which is why Aquilizan has launched a campaign to raise $30,000 for this undertaking.
“Oftentimes, the stories of people of color are never told,” she told Inquirer.net. “We never really learn about ourselves in schools. And through colonialism, that erases such a big part of our history.”
Racism is all too real
Aquilizan first learned about Lapu-Lapu when she was in high school. They had a Philippine heritage studies class, and it was there that she found out about the Spanish rule over the Philippines, which lasted 300 years.
She said it was life-changing for her since it allowed her to see the impact of the Spanish rule, which remains to this day. Particularly, she saw its effects when it comes to racism.
Robin admits that she hated being a Filipino when she was growing up. Being Filipino back then meant “being looked down upon, being dark-skinned.”
To benefit people of all colors
This is her prime motivation for why she wants to educate Fil-Am kids. The funds she will raise will be used to print children’s books about Filipino heroes and pay for the writers, artists, and other creatives involved in the project.
While this project is mainly aimed at Filipino youth, Aquilizan says this will benefit people of all colors and ages. “Even though it is a children’s book, adults can benefit.”
Aquilizan hopes that through God’s help and this project, Filipino kids will never have to endure racism as she had once gone through. They can always be proud of who they are.