A FILIPINO IN AMERICA
INTRODUCTIONS / STEREOTYPES
First off, I’m a Filipino, born and raised in the Philippines. I have never left the country until just last December, to America: The Land of the Free. The Home of the Brave. Where everybody knows your name.
|To be fair, this wasn't in syndication in the Philippines.|
*breathes in America*
I can also speak in English.
I don’t speak perfect American-English; it’s a slurred variation, a more informal, stuttering gibberish. It’s not as hip and free-flowing as regular Starbucks-teenager English. It’s also not as dense and deformed as street slang. It’s unique - I like to call it the Asian white-boy English.
The Oriental Cracka, if you must.
Pictured: Visual representation. Note the misplaced, Americanized Asian identity.
Now that we got that shit out of the way, let me explain how it’s kinda-sorta racist when you point it out, guys.
I know you mean well, but dear Lord, the Philippines isn’t that bad, you guys.
This is usually how my first meeting with an American goes: Somebody introduces me to someone, and then things get awkward.
“This is Bobby. He just came from the Philippines!”
“Oh, hey, cool. ‘Sup?”
Me: “Hey, nice to meet you, man.”
“Oh, wow. How come you can speak in English?/ Where’d you learn to speak English?/ Why can you speak in English?”
“Do they really teach English in the Philippines? Seriously? Wow, I never knew.”
I know, most of the time, it’s not rooted in any kind of malicious undermining or racist intentions. (I say “most of the time,” because you can never really be sure, anymore.) But the fact remains that it’s still due in part because of the overall notions that Americans have of the Philippines.
However, this is a symptom of a bigger underlying issue. It’s stereotyping, and it goes farther than just the grasp of language. It’s the issue of looking at a Filipino’s intelligence, basing from the way a Filipino is expected to act.
I can’t blame them, all they hear about our country are typhoons and Pacquiao, and Pacquiao does not set the bar for the Filipino people’s grasp of English.
|He'll Pac you ap!|
I mean, he may be the People’s Champ, and God, he may also be an elected politician, but it’s like judging all Chinese people based on Ken Jeong’s Mr. Chow from The Hangover.
|And he's not even Chinese!|
Anyway, I digress. It’s not limited to American-Americans, too. It’s a premonition that’s pretty common in Filipinos who’ve never been to the Philippines. I mean, when we first met, my cousin and I were watching Django Unchained, and she asked me if I knew that slavery did happen and that the Civil War was kind of a thing, back then.
Don’t get me wrong, the Philippines is still a third-world country. We, Filipinos, have a bad rep. Our government eats itself away with corruption and just plain moronic politicians with their dumbass “social issues.” (Gay rights is still kind of a grey area over there.)
Most of the people in the country are uneducated, and yes, when a typhoon hits certain places, it gets bad. One of the leading occupations of the country doesn’t even benefit the country’s economy at all - Overseas Filipino Workers look for jobs abroad just to provide for a family halfway across the globe, because minimum wage can’t feed for shit. Whether or not we’re stealing your jobs is somebody’s else’s argument.
We’re also the country that appointed Manny Pacquiao to office.
Yes, from the outsider’s point of view, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine - or stereotype - most of us to be, well, ignorant.
We’re not as advanced as the U.S., and we rely on the U.S. for support like little siblings getting picked on at the playground by North Korea and China. After all, America did “free” us from Spain a century and a half ago. Historically, the Philippines was subservient to American colonization. And cut to present - suprise - we still can’t shake your scent off of us. We need you.
|The Philippines is America's clingy ex-girlfriend.|
Hence, our government probably relies too much on Western influence to help us just deal with shit, man. It makes a whole lot of sense that we would be that way…
…in the same way that the Philippines would be the largest English speaking country in Asia, and we’re not even that big of a country. You see, the Philippines is pretty much always looking to the West, if you know what I mean. Fuck, even The Avengers premiered two weeks in advance over there. American pop culture is imbued in the Philippines’ identity. We play GTA V, and we care about Game of Thrones spoilers.
Your Billboard Hot 100 is our Billboard Hot 100, too.
|Bruno Mars. He's a shared curse. We are together in grief.|
The Philippines, hence, has English in its national school curriculum. I mean, in high school debates, we all had to speak in English just to argue. We couldn’t even build our cases in our own vernacular. Tough shit.
We still order a burger meal with fries and Coke when we come up to the counters. Our roads are roughly the same sizes as yours, too. We love The Voice in the highly regretful way you do.
And maybe all those are deeper, heavier symptoms to another, more problematic issue, as well. We’re trying so hard to be like you. We are slowly losing our Filipino identity. Nobody even says “magandang umaga!” anymore. Everybody just says “good morning.”
But that’s a topic for another blog post. Until then, I’m content to reach just one particular conclusion.
Bottom line: It’s 2015. It’s not cool to assume things based on my race, and where I’ve come from.
Filipinos aren’t immediately, collectively ignorant as a whole.
(I mean, sure, some of us are. But hey, I’ve been to WalMart. Some of you are pretty stupid, too.)
P.S.: I did not mean what I said about Bruno Mars. Uptown Funk was okay, I guess.