‘Too ashamed to be Filipino?’: Shay Mitchell asked after ‘half Spanish’ claim

June 20, 2024 - 2:16 PM
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Photo shows Shay Mitchell for "Thirst" (Shay Mitchell via Instagram; HBO Max via TikTok)

“Why hide it?”

Online Filipinos expressed disappointment after Fil-Canadian actress Shay Mitchell did not mention her Filipino heritage in her reality show, “Thirst.”

“Thirst”, a talk show which premiered on HBO Max last May, feature drink experts, a variety of cocktails and bars in the West.

In her show, Shay shared that her father is Irish, while her mother is Spanish, which would suggest a high tolerance for alcoholic beverages.

“You know what my background is? My dad’s Irish, my mom’s Spanish,” she said.

@streamonmax Spicy Shay. #ThirstWithShayMitchell #ShayMitchell ♬ original sound – Max

However, many recalled that her mother, Precious Garcia is from Pampanga, making Shay half-Filipino. During her visit to the Philippines in 2013, she explained her difficulties coming to terms with her Pinoy background. She also previously said how this was a big part of her which makes her unique.

Additionally, Broadway singer and performer Lea Salonga is Shay’s aunt. Lea and Shay’s mom, Precious, are first cousin. This was reported in 2014 and was once again brought up when Lea landed a role in the hit television show “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin”.

“Pretty Little Liars” was released in 2010 starring Shay, while the continuation series, “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin”, aired in 2022 with a set of new characters and stories.

“What are the odds of two people from the same family in this same universe? It just doesn’t happen and it’s happened to our family, it’s crazy.” Lea said in an interview.

@newyorklivetv “Pretty Little Liars” runs in the family! Lea Salonga tells Ashley Bellman how her family reacted when they learned she was cast in “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin” on HBO Max. Check it out at the link in our bio. #newyorklivetv #PLLOriginalSin #LeaSalonga #ShayMitchell ♬ original sound – New York Live TV

Filipinos displeased with Shay

Meanwhile, Shay’s statement on her new reality show did not match with the stories she has told in the past, making many Filipinos dismayed.

Erin, a Filipina content creator and a radiology nurse explained how disappointed she was over Shay’s “half Spanish” claim.

“I just don’t get why some people are ashamed to be Filipino. If you are proud [to be Filipino] and you embrace it, we will love you and we will support you 100%,” she said on TikTok.

“The way Saweetie makes it known she’s half Filipina and people love her! Like, why hide it?” another online user commented on the video.

@everythingserin To say the least im disappointed. I was a big supporter. Its sad to see when people don’t embrace their culture #filipino #filipinotiktok #shaymitchell #philippines #filipina ♬ original sound – Erin | Radiology Nurse

“Shay Mitchell said that she is Irish and Spanish when in fact she is half Filipino. Her mom is full blooded Filipina, a Kapampangan to be exact… Kinda like Vanessa Hudgens, are they too ashamed to be Filipino?” an online user said on X (formerly Twitter).

Another X user related Shay’s claim to actress Vanessa Hudgens who previously denied her Filipino roots in the past.

“Why do Filipino women married to white men love to identify as Spanish when they don’t even look it? No you’re not. You’re indio af. Katutubo. Native. Own it,” the online user said.

Vanessa was first known for her role as Gabriella Montez, a Latina character in the Disney movie series, “High School Musical”. She eventually acknowledged her true identity as a Filipino, which later made her become the Philippines’ global tourism ambassador in 2023, appointed by the Marcos administration.

READ: ‘So empowering’: Vanessa Hudgens ‘doing everything’ to let people know she is ‘proud’ Filipino | Pinoys pitch other personalities amid Vanessa Hudgens appointment as global tourism ambassador

How Pinoys abroad commemorate Filipino culture

There are many Filipino families who migrate to different countries, especially in the United States, due to their career, education or other various reasons.

In a data collected in 2023, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) found that North and South America are the third top destination for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

The Migration Policy Institute also noted that one in seven Asian immigrants residing in the U.S. are Filipinos.

The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) declared October a month to celebrate Filipino-American heritage, and was declared by the U.S. Congress in 2009.

According to Asian Journal, a publication reporting about news impacting the Filipino-American community, October was declared Filipino American History Month in 2009.

“The celebration of Filipino American History Month in October commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the continental United States, which occurred on October 18, 1587, when ‘Luzones Indios’ came ashore from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Esperanza and landed at what is now Morro Bay, California, according to the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS),” Asian Journal’s report read.