Stereotyping in the Philippines
An Opinion and Observation
I admire the way Filipino people defend their compatriots when they are—sometimes-- put in a less
than honorable category by other nations. The examples are the outrage when someone stereotypes Filipinos in an unfavorable way.
When in Singapore, someone said that all Filipinos were cleaners or when in Hong Kong, when a writer said that Filipinos were servants, the whole worldwide Filipino community reacted in uncontrollable rage.
Filipinos don’t allow their people to be verbally abused or humiliated like that. They call such “stereotypers” racist and even report them to authorities.
I remember when I was in Saudi Arabia, a Filipino American that I worked with was very angered by the fact that a British coworker had asked him if he was a cook. The Fil-am guy was a helicopter technician and he resented being stereotyped in such a way. His anger and indignation -- and the wound that the remark had caused were profound. “A Filipino is just a cook, huh?” He was nodding grimly to himself. He held a grudge against that Brit for a long time after that.
By the way, the reason the British coworker had thought he was a cook was because he had seen him inside the kitchen in full uniform- the Fil-am was actually preparing food for himself. But that did not calm the man down- he continued fuming.
The most insulting thing to Filipinos is when Filipina women are stereotyped as maids or entertainers in Asian countries even though they are teachers or nurses. This again wounds Filipinos deeply, and the whole nation resents it extremely.
I am really happy to see that they can unite in such a way to oppose insults and stereotypes by other nationalities.
But please allow me to do a bit of “et tu quoque” here. This whole thing begs the question: do Filipinos also stereotype other races if you go to their country?
The answer is: Oh, yes, they do it all the time! Not everybody does it, but quite a few do. In other words, some Filipinos can be just as bad.
Stereotype #1: Porener= pervert.
When I was in Saudi Arabia, a Filipino coworker sometimes pointed at the Americans working there and utter, “Amerikano, hahaha, pedopayl, hahaha!”. He was smiling proudly, too.
And one lady I invited to dinner in the Philippines-a teacher, as soon as she politely sat down, blurted out her first question to me: “Why are the Amerikanos pedopayls?”
I have had American friends who were in the Philippines with their kids, their nephew, nieces, and God children and they would sometimes report horrible looks coming from the people –“ If looks could kill, I’d be dead”, they said.
I was once in Pampanga and bought candy for my neighbor’s daughters. As I was treating them, two men went by and said: “Tignan mo ang mga maliliit na putang iyan!”- “Look at these two little whores!”. They thought I could not understand what they were saying.
One guy was
with his nieces and shopping in Cebu, and a strange man started grumbling about him that this was another “porener pedopayl” - which led to a violent confrontation.
Such cases are not that few. You’d better be careful walking with your kids, God kids, and younger Filipino relatives because a white “porener” with brown kids is immediately a pervert in the eyes of some. Does every Filipino think that way? No. But angry and hateful darts of the eyes can be a daily occurrence.
Just like not every Singaporean thinks that Filipinos are all servants- but some do- and it still hurts.
Philippine TV channels regularly report that another “poren pedopayl” has been caught firmly entrenching in the minds of the public the enduing relationship between the two words.
I’d rather be thought of as a cook.
Stereotype #2. A “porener” is a sex tourist, and his Filipina woman companion is a prostitute.
Angry darts of the eyes, beams of negative energy, scornful smiles, whispers and mocking jeers happen sometimes- when a white man is with a Filipina- especially when in a big city. Things are less so in small towns where they just think you are a husband and wife.
An educated Filipina would often avoid dating a “porener” in the city- or even walk by his side because people will think she is a prostitute. Which is basically racism-- as ugly as it sounds. Your only fault is that you have white skin and Caucasian features.
Sometimes things get to the point of ridiculous- there was once a Malacanang employee- a younger, married lady who was showing two British delegates the Intramuros. She then laughingly told them that she had overheard people whisper that she was a bar girl with two “poreners”. She did not get angry- she just took it in stride. What else would the people think anyway?
Such cases happen again and again. While most Filipino people don’t say such things, most Hong Kongers and Singaporeans also don’t think or talk much about Filipinos all the time- they have their own lives to live. But even a minority of hateful “stereotypers” can already make your life miserable and make you feel uncomfortable. It does take thick skin not to be affected by such things.
Thus, no matter how much you love the country and its people, it will still sometimes stereotype and slander you badly if you are white. And not only if you are white:
Indians ( the Boom-bye) all smell bad- are all money lenders and are called Turko - “Pautang Turco, pautang”, Japanese are all rapists, Muslims are “terrorista”, Russians are all “kumunista”, Jews are Christ-killers, and it goes on and on.
In other words, some Filipinos can be just as bad to others. Except that the assumptions that they have about others can be way more serious, more hurtful and affect many more people. After all- the stereotype that a Filipina is a maid affects only Filipinos-- and being a maid is not such a bad thing. It’s not a crime. But a “porener na manyakes” includes billions of people and slanders half the world.
Many “poreners” are quiet about it to their Filipino friends. They don’t want to be told “Well if you don’t like how we do things, just leave”. Hence, they say it to other “poreners”. But good Filipinos must hear and know about it and that “hindi lahat ng porener ay manyakes at pedopayl”. Please think about it and talk about it.
We are all going to be living and working together for a long time to come. More of you will be coming to our countries, and more or us will be going to your country, as well. Let’s all fight stereotypes and assume good things about another person before assuming the bad-- just because of his race or nationality.
I strongly wish Filipino people would address such ugly types of behavior at the same time as they protest against stereotypes which are directed towards them. Remember the Golden Rule? It works both ways. Always!
As Always Come Join the Discussion at Living Cebu Forums. Click Here
Tim Potter Texas
- Easy Living in The Philippines (timpotter-philippines.com)
- Poverty In the Philippines (timpotter-philippines.com)
- Online Dating Dangers (timpotter-philippines.com)