Community: Filipino American Woman in a Catholic Community
The success rate of any community-based research project (CBRP) depends on the perception of the community under observation. Various studies argue between being an “outsider” or “insider” interviewer during such projects. However, the two methods have varied results as each presents various pros and cons. Therefore, I chose to be a ‘neutral observing’ researcher in my study to describe my community.
Filipino Americans are the fastest growing Asian group in America. Data released by U.S. Census Bureau in 2010 indicates that approximately 3.4 million Filipinos live in America, whereby 16.6% are born in the U.S., 52% are foreign-born, while 31.4% migrated into the U.S. (Lagman et al., 2014). The population composition as shown in figure 1 below indicate that most fililpino Americans are born outside of the U.S.
Figure 1: Filipino-American population Composition Grouped by Birth Location
Despite the large population, the Filipino Americans rank low in education levels, as well as healthcare access. Thus, a study of the cultural structure of the Filipino community is essential in determining the social determinants of healthcare.
A majority of Filipino American immigrants migrated into the U.S. mainly due to three reasons, namely; in search of employment, to unite with families, and escape the political unrest in their home country. As such, the culture of the Filipino people in American is similar to that of their counterparts in Philippines. I am born and raised in a Filipino American community that practices catholic faith in New York City. The community comprises of closely-knit families characterized by three generations of families living together; that is, the children, parents, and grandparents and/or relatives. Hence, the structure of living together enables the older generation to teach and pass on the Filipino culture to the younger generations.
My community value the catholic doctrines such that all views on social issues are aligned with catholic beliefs. For example, a study conducted by Pew Research Center on moral issues revealed that approximately 67% of Filipinos do not support divorce, while 93% oppose abortion on the basis of moral grounds (Lipka, 2015). Additionally, members of the community believe that illnesses is a natural occurrence from God; those who recover from their illnesses are due to miracles from God, thus, modern healthcare interventions are undermined. Notably, many Filipinos rely on church doctrines in making everyday decisions. A majority of the Filipino Americans do not believe in modern medicine and health practices. Therefore, the community’s view of health dissemination is different from my personal understanding of the modern-day healthcare system.
The Filipino American community is patriarchal in nature. The authority to interact with any community member must be obtained from a council of male advisors. However, the household is mainly led by the females, especially the eldest female in the house. As such, the males control restrictions along the exterior boundaries of the community whereas the females are allowed to control restrictions within a family with permission from a male figure. Per Lagman et al. (2014), the Filipino view the role of women as subordinate such that women are caretakers both at the workplace and at home. Most families in my community own family businesses as their source of income, and women that are employed work as either teachers or house managers to the white families. Community members engage in economic activities mainly to support their families’ financial obligations as well as church activities. On the other hand, healthcare obligations come last because healthcare is not prioritized within the community.
While conducting the CBRP within my community, I undertook the role of an observer in order not to intimidate the respondents. According to Kerstetter (2012), outsider researchers faces lack of trust among community partners, whereas the insider researcher faces a perceived lack of respect from community members. Thus, I chose a neutral position in being an observer while researching in my community. Furthermore, the approach was in line with Mikler’s (2004) argument that “outsider” researchers tend to influence the findings of a study because respondents are intimidated by their presence. Hence, the respondents do not act as they normally would if they were not being interviewed or observed.
Ethical Issue during the Study
The main ethical issue of the community-based research approach I chose to use was lack of informed consent from the community partners under study. In order not to offend the community, I addressed the issue by seeking permission to carry out my survey from the community leaders. Banks and Armstrong (2012) support that ethical issues emerging during a research should be identified and addressed promptly to avoid litigation measures against a researcher. By seeking permission, the community leaders provided additional information to my research study helping me to understand the community further.
Stakeholders in the Community
Since the community consists of different generations, I chose to group the community partners based on age so as to find the primary and secondary stakeholders for my study. The primary stakeholders are grandparents, commonly referred to as “Lolo.” Grandparents take care of the younger generations, and in the process, they convey key festivals and rituals observed by the community. The secondary stakeholders are the children, government officials, and community leaders. The children are expected to be obedient to their elders. Children’s opinions are considered secondary to the adults’ views on different issues within the community. Government officials ensure that the community is peaceful and laws are upheld while guaranteeing that the rights of the citizens are honored. In addition, community leaders voice the major concerns facing the community. They also grant permission when key projects are to be conducted within the community. As such, they are the community’s gatekeepers. Therefore, each stakeholder has a role to play in the sustainability of the community.
Banks, S., & Armstrong, A. (2012). Ethics in community-based participatory research: case studies, case examples and commentaries. National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.
Kerstetter, K. (2012). Insider, outsider, or somewhere in between: the impact of researchers’ identities on the community-based research process. Journal of Rural Social Sciences, 27(2), 99-117.
Lagman, R. A., Yoo, G. J., Levine, E. G., Donell, K. A., & Lim, H. A. (2014). “Leaving it to God.” religion, spirituality, and Filipina American breast cancer survivors. Journal of religion and health. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-012-9648-z
Lipka, M. (2015). 5 facts about Catholicism in the Philippines. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearchcenter.org/fact-tank/2015/01/09/5-facts-about-catholicism-in-the-philippines/?amp=1
Mikler, M. (2004). Ethical challenges of the “outsider” researcher in community-based participatory research. Health Education & Behavior, 31 (6), 684-697. https://doi.org/10.1177/1090198104269566