Mr. Asumen has most recently assumed the responsibilities of
Chairman-of-the-Board for ACE LILACS, a budding startup venture
in the marketplace of ideas. The list of previous vocations he
had engaged in before this, includes being a farmer, fisherman,
stevedore, national scholar, college professor, journeyman
laborer, freelance scribe, typesetter, proofreader, systems
analyst, software developer, cab driver, etc. He holds a masters
degree in Mineral Science & Technology (1973, Kyoto University)
with a major in Exploration Geophysics. Somewhat of the
quintessential Ivy League under-achiever, he is an embodiment of
the can-do attitude so prevalent amongst most first generation
Americans. He is an ardent adherent to the tenet that anything
worth doing is worth doing well. Mr. Asumen maintains a website here.
Assimilation Overkill Begets Bigotry
November 2, 2009
become a very tolerant society, in which we don't
judge people by their names any more than by the
color of their skin. Assimilation still requires
some accommodation by the newcomers...But it doesn't
mean entirely giving up some attachment and
affection for one's origins, even distant ones.”
– Linda Chavez
Roughly a quarter of a century ago, when the manager hired me to a much
coveted job in the lowest echelons of management in a reputable
corporation, I believed it was on the merits of my resume and real time
presentation. It was the easiest conclusion to make, having been
endowed with a healthy dose of self-esteem by my farm boy upbringing,
reinforced by a series of academic scholarships through college and
Then picking an "Americanized” name was one of the top three issues he
addressed in the job orientation. He opined that most people would find
pronouncing all three syllables of my first name, Constancio, as a
project by itself, or in his words, "more than a mouthful.”
I was utterly flabbergasted. Only the fact that I already resigned from
my previous job, where I was affectionately called "Mr. C” by my
manager, constrained me from kissing the new job goodbye.
Again my farm boy instinct for adaptation kicked in and I settled for a
compromise. During the first few years on the job I adopted the moniker
"C.S.” This was conveniently consistent with the name on my driver’s
license and the American Express card I carried at the time.
Moreover, the compromise did not involve any emotional stress. I am the
fifth of eight siblings and the fourth of six sons. I have known for a
fact that I was named after my father not because he had any special
affection for me over his other sons. Rather it was because the
Catholic Almanac of Names was not available the year I was born, thanks
to World War II. So getting "CS” over "Constancio” did not bruise my
ego in any way, shape or form.
I did not bring this up to suggest that the manager was a bigot by any
stretch of the imagination. In fact, he was one of the finest human
beings I was privileged to have encountered in my career meanderings.
To date I hold him in high esteem. That I am no longer in contact with
him may be blamed on what Spenser calls "The Ruins of Time.” I have
that strong tendency to be overwhelmed by the inertia of the banalities
of day-to-day existence, to keep abreast with the demands of social
The manager who succeeded him promptly sent me to an accent correction
tutor to get rid of my ‘thick’ Filipino accent. The premise being that
speaking with a vernacular accent hindered my ability to communicate
effectively. It allegedly jeopardized my chances for advancement in the
corporate bureaucracy, or so he noted in a subsequent job performance
I must confess that he was proved correct. I subsequently resigned from
the job shortly thereafter. I simply could not muster enough patience
and forbearance to endlessly indulge in what I deemed the celebration of
irrelevance just to stoke some peoples’ ego.
The point that can never be overemphasized is that an obsession with
form over substance, as seems to be the norm of late, especially in the
age of Obama, produces unintended consequences. One of them is a de
facto appearance of bigotry, and its practice by default. It is a fine
line that divides the much needed effort at cultural assimilation and
the despicable sacrifice of your soul in the altar of multiculturalism.
The former demands you galvanize all the useful aspects of your
background to become viable tools to establish your role in the new
cultural setting, thereby enhancing your chances at success. The latter
is wont to embellish some of the primitive and provincial reflexes of
your background to mystify and mythologize so that they become worthy of
worship and adoration.
This is an
unmistakable prelude to an historical revisionism which can create an
alternate universe or pseudo reality in the lives of the practitioners.
As a first generation American, I am always, and will ever be
categorically against the mindset that promotes hyphenated-Americanism.
It is the ultimate promise of meritocracy, inter alia, which makes me
unapologetically, uniquely, and unequivocally proud to be an American.
It is this sentiment that makes the POTUS’ practice
and inclination to apologize for America unpardonably offensive, and
un-American. It is a practice definitely not worthy of his office.
America deserves better.