Activists often portray Juan dela Cruz as a victim of American imperialism, especially since many editorial cartoons of the American period often depicted him alongside Uncle Sam. In modern times, he is shown independently as a venue for the common Filipino's commentary on governmental and social issues.
The term, sometimes shortened to "Juan", also refers to the collective Filipino psyche.
The name (Spanish for "John of the Cross") is often used as a placeholder name for an anonymous individual, roughly the equivalent of the AmericanJohn Doe. The feminine placeholder is usually María dela Cruz, which like Juan is a common —albeit mostly legal and colloquially rare— first name among the Filipino women, though Juana dela Cruz is currently making mark in current Philippine TV campaigns.