The students that come in the classroom are not all the same

Cross cultural kids in the Philippine context include those Bi-racial kids (BRKs) who are born of parents from two different cultures, and Third Culture Kids (TCKs), who have spent a significant time of their earlier development in another culture, outside that of the Philippines’ . Thus, those half-Filipinos and Third Culture Filipino Kids comprise this growing population of students in schools in the Philippines.

In a recent study (Rivera, 2010), it was found out that BRKs and TCKs share common experiences of culture shock when they came in school and that language and appearance are factors that influence the way others deal with them. In the Philippine context, they comprise a small population, and the others whom they identify are the majority of the locals. BRKs include those kids whose either of the parents is Filipino and the other is from another nationality or ethnicity. TCKs are those kids who may have both Filipino parents but they were raised or grew up in another country.

BRKs and TCKs do not seem to be different at all in terms of their cultural orientation, although they come from different cultural environment. Most of them exhibit passive academic and communicative behavior, that they do not frequently and openly share their ideas to the class. They generally use English as their first language, except for those coming from a culture where English is not a primary language (i.e. Filipino-Japanese).

They all believe that having a college education is important for them, and that the school is an institution for learning. Even, so their performance in school is but average to low. Furthermore, they generally identify themselves to be different, and they see others as having a different cultural background as well.

Majority of those  students in the qualitative study think of themselves as inferior if not equal with others, while a couple of them demonstrate a superior self-identification, as coming from a another culture with superior traits. These two students who find their selves superior against others, tend to be stereotyped as anti-social most often and they have limited number of friends as well as isolated most often.

Stereotyping and isolation are two common issues experienced by BRKs and TCKs and the said can be traced as resulting from the language difference, intellectual ability and appearance. Based on Pollock and Van Reken’s framework (2001), it was found out that Filipino BRKs tend to adapt as foreigners in the school, that they look alike and think differently;  Filipino TCKs tend to adapt as a hidden immigrant that they look different and think different.  Only one participant adjusts like culturally adopted, while another seems to be mirroring in her adjustment.

language distinguishes the groups from majority of the students. Second is their way of thinking which includes their self-identification and knowledge or individual intellectual ability. Third is the difference in their attitude and behavior towards school and others. Beyond these, there is an evident difference in their constructs, values and beliefs about school and home.

Data obtained from the participants reveal that these students’ identities emerge from their interactions with others. They desire to be in sync with others as they want to implement changes to positively address the ill perceptions of others as to their individuality. They experience conflict as relational dialectics, that although they want to be in good relationships with others, the language barrier and their lack of knowledge of the Philippine culture affects their communication behavior towards others.

multiple methods were used in this qualiative study: multiple case analysis of key-informant’s life-histories from interviews with three BRKs, and three TCKs; documented observation of participants classroom behavior;  and textual analysis of written discourses from 5 multiracial and 5 monoracial kids in the locale.


Rivera, R. C. II (2010). Indentification: Making College “Home” for Third Culture and Biracial Kids, A cross-cultural study. Presented to Prof. Elenita Pernia, PhD. of the University of the Philippines – College of Mass Communication. [Unpublished Post Graduate Research].

Pollock, D. C. & Van Reken, R. E. (2001). Third Culture Kids, the experience of growing up among worlds. Intercultural Press Inc.


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