Aug 18, 2008


At Puerto de San Juan Beach Resort in La Union, we made our way to a table at the restaurant for lunch. I called the attention of a waiter, who signaled for me to wait as he took the orders of another group at another table. After writing down that group’s preference, he proceeded to give the list to the kitchen before making his way to our table with menus.

We already knew what we wanted, and as I was giving him our orders, a Caucasian male with his girlfriend entered the restaurant and while I was in midsentence, the waiter took off to seat the foreigner and his girlfriend, gave them menus, and with a huge patronizing smile on his face, took their orders. He passed our table on his way to the kitchen, and I called his attention once again to tell him that we weren’t done yet, and he grudgingly stopped to get the rest of our orders.

Racism in this country is puzzling – we are biased against ourselves.

I wanted to tell the waiter that we’re not under colonial rule anymore, but of course his attitude could’ve been motivated by the prospect of a tip in green bucks.

I was cast in a movie produced by a Dutch production outfit years back, and I experienced the same odd case of racism – I arrived at the set one morning, the location was up in the mountains and quite far away from the nearest available restroom, and the site of a portable toilet greeted me with a huge sign that said “For Foreign Cast” only. Of course I explained to the local crew that we Filipino actors experience calls of nature too, and when I didn’t get an explanation, I brought my case to the Dutch producer – I told him how they can probably make their racist biases more discreet, and I was bowled over by his reply: having the portable toilets exclusively for the use of their kind was not their idea and that they were as taken aback as I was.

In Baguio, a look at the Sunday classifieds would reveal several ads for houses for rent with this qualifier at the end: “Preferably Foreigners.” Or if the ad came with a description of the house saying how beautiful it is, chances are it would be concluded with “Ideal For Foreigners,” as if Filipinos have no business living in a house with a fireplace and a dirty kitchen. And no, the Baguio Country Club’s decision to ban Koreans hardly makes things any better.

In Malou Jacob’s play, “Pepe,” a line goes: “Noon, ang mga Kastila’y kinamuhian naming. Ngayon, ang mga banyagang nagsasamantala sa inyo’y tinitingala, pinagsisilbihan, minamahal.”

More than a hundred years after the Spaniards left, and more than fifty years after the Americans gave us our independence (or dumped us, depending on which historical author you patronize), we’re still slaves.

Ay, kawawang bayan. Gising!


Anonymous said...

This is sadly true.

Take a PAL flight and you'll see our attendants swooning over all non-filipinos. The minute you need something from them, they tell you condescendingly to wait... but most of the time..only to forget you.

My mother was a victim of PAL's discrimination. On a flight to Macau, after major turbulence, a lot of passengers were severely injured. A child in the lavatory hit the ceiling, a flight attendant cracked her ribs & my mom who was in the galley, broke her right foot. Would you believe they rushed everyone who was Macanese to the the ambulance? WHile my mom had to ask them 3 times for medical assistance since everyone had gotten off the plane and no one was assisting her? Her foot was as big as a papaya and facing a very unnatural direction and still it didn't occur to them to assist her. THey did not even give her an icebag. When someone finally arrived, she was taken through immigration and baggage claim, only to be led out to the parking lot. No ambulance. That's 3 hours of pain with a broken foot. That's someone over 50, with a sticker on the lapel identifying her as a 'wheelchair' passenger. They even had the gall to try those in the airport clinic the bill. This is a most traumatic encounter for our family. My mom had to undergo operation and she still can't walk on her own til now.

I had to go to Macau to fetch my mom to have the operation here in Manila. They were condescending all the way. This is what their tone implies: "Pinoy ka naman...kaya mo naman magtiis, bakit ka nagrereklamo? BAkit ka nagagalit?"

Altomonte Projects said...

While racism exists in various parts of the world, the kind that exists in our culture is depressing... the kind where we look up to what's not us and look down upon what's us and ours... no wonder it's easy for other cultures and races to treat us badly seeing the way we treat ourselves (nakakahiya, pinoy lang ako) and each other (pinoy ka lang, wala kang karapatan).