I am a second-generation Fil-Am who attended a reputable college, and I went to school with really smart folks (I didn't think I was any less smart by the way :-p). I must admit though that I sort of felt "jealous" of the Indians, the Koreans, and the Chinese who many other students (including fellow Filipinos) and teachers considered the smartest and the "model" students. Now, here's a somewhat "racist" question: Do you think that, as a group, we will ever belong in their ranks?
I totally dig your question (it's not "racist" just race-related), but I'm kinda disappointed with it too. Here's why: Coming from someone like you who supposedly went to a "reputable" college already, does this mean that many other Filipinos "below" your educational stature carry the same "baggage" -- i.e., "jealousy," or maybe, from the very premise of your question, even a sense of "inferiority" perhaps?
But first, let's give credit where credit is due. I think the reason why US-based Asian Indians, Chinese and Koreans have seemingly outsized rates of representation in Ivy League colleges is because their cultures (at least, from what I can tell from my interactions with them in the US) value education more. Plus, of course, in the case of China and India, they are very populous countries so that naturally, they tend to send more people to US universities for higher education. And not to diminish their smarts, they shine because, as they say, in China, even if you're one in a million, there's at least a thousand just like you.
Additionally, the US-based Chinese/Korean/Indian parents, many of whom are recent immigrants and recruited to work in high-tech, push their kids to not be content with just complying with school curricula, so many of their kids also attend after-school tutorial classes, academic camps and what-not. Yes, they probably know the US educational system is falling behind, so the kids are being asked to aim higher -- which, I think, is the right way to go. They are also attuned to what's happening back in their own home countries (by this I'm referring to the intense competition to succeed in booming India, China and South Korea); thus, peer pressure among them to excel academically is likewise intense. This dynamic has its obvious rewards, but like anything, also has its costs. (We don't have to go into this now because that is not part of your question.)
So if we want more academic achievers, we have to do more as a community. We have to glorify academic achievement with even just a tenth of the passion we employ to glorify Manny Pacquiao's exploits or Charice Pempengco's. We have to lessen the invidious impact of pop culture by shutting off TVs and monitoring our kids' Internet and cell phone use. Our kids must be told to prioritize homework before hiphop, cellular chemistry before cellular phones, math book before Facebook.
I do have some US Census stats to make you a little prouder of our community (and which should tell you that we may be underrated as a group). Here's one about educational attainment (note: click on the images to enlarge):
As you can see, we do fairly well, compared to the other Asian groups in education. Our college graduation rate is almost double the national rate, and that's admirable.
And it's important to impart the value of education because there really is a high correlation between education and income, and education and unemployment rate. Here's one graphical proof:
|(Source: American Century Blog)|
And though less clearly shown, here's another proof:
Now, here's the BIG CAVEAT: The data in the immediately preceding graph is old and getting older; newer figures are available on Wikipedia and I'm glad we're faring even better. But the data actually does not explain other factors affecting household incomes. For instance, Filipinos are probably making more than the other Asian groups because we are heavily represented in the higher-paying health industry and because we, like Indians, have a better grasp of the English language, which give us an advantage over other Asian immigrants when it comes to landing jobs. (So a quick note to policy-makers in the Philippines: Do NOT water down English instruction in favor of Tagalization under the guise of "nationalism," without regard to the fact that the Philippines has more native non-Tagalog speakers than there are Tagalog speakers.)
But here's one graphic which I think shows that the "model minority theory" is in fact a myth and can be counterproductive and harmful:
As you can see, almost counter-intuitively, the Chinese and the Koreans (and, to a lesser degree, the Asian Indians) have higher levels of poverty compared to national rates -- and about double ours. And this is why your question reveals some ignorance or is at least inartful, because, by this measure at least, we, as a community, are not doing too badly even if there's much more need and room for improvement. Heck, we can even stake a legitimate claim to being a "model group" in this regard.
And these graphs, collectively, is one reason why I don't believe in traditional notions of affirmative action anymore -- the one based on race, national origin or sex. We are now heading into the second decade of the 21st century, and well past the era of pernicious discrimination and even race-related riots. Sure, there should be affirmative action, but it should be based on membership in society's lowest economic strata, which unfortunately have been ballooning in size lately in America. You and I must help to reverse this unwelcome trend, not just for the Filipino-American community but, more importantly, for the country which has benefited us greatly and which we now call home.
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