Criollo is a term that dates back to the Spanish colonial casta system (caste system) of Latin America. It referred to a person born in the Spanish colonies deemed to have limpieza de sangre (literally, "cleanliness of blood") in respect of an individual's purity of European (Iberian) ancestry.
In the Americas the concept was adapted into a context of racial hierarchy based on racial "purity", in an environment which had become largely repopulated by persons of mixed race as a result of the arrival of Europeans and their miscegenation with indigenous Amerindians as well as with imported African slaves. A "pure" person able to be deemed a criollo would be one of proven unmixed Spanish ancestry, that is, the Americas-born child of two Spanish-born Spaniards, of two criollos, or a Spaniard and a criollo.
Cleanliness of blood, and thus the classification as criollo, could also be legally and automatically attained by people of mixed origin with 1/8th or less of Amerindian ancestry, that is, the offspring of one castizo parent and one Spaniard or criollo parent. The same 1/8th or less reclassification did not legally or automatically exist for those with any African admixture, although it was often subversively purchased with relevant probanzas de sangre (bloodline records) altered.
By the 19th century, this perceived discrimination and the examples of the American Revolution and the anti-white Haitian Revolution eventually led the criollo to rebel against peninsulare rule. Eventually earning the support of other castes— castizos, mestizos, cholos, mulatos, indios, zambos, among many others, and ultimately blacks, they engaged Spain in the Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821) and the South American Wars of Independence (1810–1826), which ended with the break-up of the former Spanish Empire in America into a number of independent republics.
The traditional ethnic flag of the Criollos of Hispanic America is identical with the flag of Bolivia, and therefore there have been proposals to create a new flag for Bolivia which combines the traditional red, yellow, and green banner with the ethnic flag of the Aymara Amerindians. A 2008 constitutional referendum in Bolivia will be held to make the Aymara flag a coequal national flag for Bolivia along with the traditional Bolivian flag.
The meaning of Filipino changed drastically during the Philippine Revolution. It was adopted by nationalist movements and transformed into a national designation that encompassed the entire population of the Philippines, especially the descendants of the indigenous Malay peoples, replacing the native word Katagalugan or Tagalog, which should properly pertain to the indigenous Malay peoples, according to Philippine heroes José Rizal and Andres Bonifacio (who himself was a Spanish mestizo). In fact, the meaning of Filipino today is the opposite of its colonial meaning, since it tends to exclude Filipinos of pure or mixed Spanish descent, who are seen and regarded by many Filipinos of mainly pure Malay descent, especially from the lower socio-economic classes, as not being "true" Filipinos but "foreigners". The same principle invariably applies to other non-indigenous Filipino criollos of other European descent.