Image by Nathaniel Sison


My Role: Ethnographic Researcher

Context: 6 weeks, solo research

Tools: MURAL

Methodologies: User Interviews, Artifact Review, Journey Mapping

Qualitative Research Final Project | 2021



As of 2019, about four million Filipinos live in the United States with the cities that have the largest Filipino population, both Los Angeles (#1) and San Francisco (#2) being in California. The Filipino diaspora being situated in high concentrations very close to campus gave a unique opportunity to ethnographically study this population’s involvement with issues that lie outside of their present situation and identity. This particular population is interesting to look at because of their unique placement at UC Berkeley. Student activists in the Philippines often face issues of criticism and danger, sometimes at the hands of their own government. 

The unique placement of Filipino Americans fighting for social justice in a region of the United States that has previously hosted many other protests. These were the primary research questions:

  1. What Filipino activism occurs on the University of California, Berkeley campus?

  2. What other layered identities does Filipino activism attract?

  3. What are the rituals and processes behind Filipino activism on campus? 



Ethnography was the main method of research for this study because first and foremost, activism is an act. It is a deliberate action to create and influence change.


The field of this ethnography is comprised of:

  1. Event Observation

    • Doe Library Protest​

    • League of Filipino Students' Open House

  2. Artifact Review

    • Doe Library South East Asian Display

    • ABS-CBN Video Coverage

    • DailyCal Article

  3. Interviews

    • League of FIlipino Students General Body Member

    • Non-participatory Filipino American Graduate Student



The two main methods of analysis included creating a journey and affinity map.


Journey Map:

  • Involved creating two user personas; one of an ongoing Filipino student activist, and one who did not participate in on campus activism.

  • Plotted pain and pleasure points for each user persona and complimented those points with direct quotes from the interviews.

Affinity Map:

  • Separated core concepts and themes from each event attended, artifact reviewed, and interview conducted.

  • Sorted those cards to show their similarities and continued to describe in detail how they were connected, showing the relationship between themes.



Overall, it was found that Filipino American students participated in activism about racist displays on campus that highlighted Filipino colonizers, and participated to feel closer to their home country. As Filipino Americans may feel closer to their American identity than their Filipino identity, learning how to speak in Filipino dialects and finding other Filipino Americans who seek to situated themselves in the Philippines rather than America allows them to connect with their Filipino identity more. The activism on campus attracts Filipino Americans who are invested in anti-imperialism, and the activist rituals performed are organized through graduate students invested in activism as well as student groups like LFS. 



  • Live event observation can be difficult, it's important to employ the AEIOU method to highlight the activity, environment, interactions, objects, and users.

  • Ethnography as a method is stronger with multitudes of streams of information, such as artifacts themselves and user interviews.