Half and Half: Searching for a Mestiza Hero in Colonel Yay Panlilio’s “The Crucible"

cover image of the crucible
Tessa Delgo, Kristina Williams, Tom Robisheaux
2020

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Type: Lab

What does it mean to be a mestiza? For modern Filipina/os, the literal definition refers to someone of mixed heritage, and the universal cultural understanding is that it refers to any Filipina/o with light skin. In many cultures (including that of Filipina/os) the mestiza is intrinsically tied to a history of colonialism and subsequent racial hierarchy, a kind of artifact of imposition and inequity. On the other hand, Mexican-American scholar Gloria Anzaldúa argues that the mestiza is transcendent, uniquely positioned to champion a kind of consciousness that straddles borders and imagines a new world. As a mestiza Filipina-American, Tessa grapples with figuring out what it means, and who to look to in order to create that definition. Through analyzing the autobiography of Colonel Yay Panlilio, a Filipina-American guerrilla warrior, Tessa's project questions how we define mestizas, how we define heroes, and why these definitions matter at a personal level.

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