By Lipadlawin of the Brown Raise Movement
It’s not my penname, it’s not me, for your information.
Don’t be fooled at once by the title of the entry. The story behind that statement excludes us.
Last year, a friend left the Philippines and went to the United States. In his German class, the students were international. The professor asked who the Asians were and one by one the Asian students introduced themselves. And so it went, the Chinese, the Koreans, the Vietnamese, the Singaporeans etc. all raised their hands. Finally the professor calls this Filipino and asks,
Professor: Where are you from?
Professor: Oh, Filipinos are not Asians! They are Pacific Islanders! Because ASIANS ARE SMART…
In the United States, it is already being taught in schools that Filipinos are not Asians—that we are Pacific Islanders. While there is a lot of reaction against it, I am surprised that many intelligent Filipinos abroad have accepted this without question.
Pacific Islands are places like Samoa, Hawaii, Tahiti, Guam, Cook Islands, Mariana Islands—and their common denominator? Most of them do not possess their own national and political identities—they are islands under the jurisdiction and protection of more powerful countries like USA, France and New Zealand. Most of these Pacific Islands are still referred to as “indigenous natives.” They have very, very small populations and they have no global role or power. While they have their own unique culture and characteristics, they do not hail from any great civilization in the past. Hindi sila lumaban at tumayo para sa sarili nilang lahi.
What is even sad, however, is that even Pacific Islanders do not like and do not accept Filipinos! One good example are Hawaiian tourists we met in China. When they learned that we were Filipinos, they disgustingly uttered , “You eat Balot!” and avoided us like a plague.
The statement of this American guy, filled with racism obviously merits strong disapproval. In fact, our friend was so angry after having been humiliated in front of the class. The logical thing to say, is that the Philippines IS part of the ASEAN group of nations. We can also say that Japan is an island in the Pacific Ocean but is not considered a Pacific Island. But we should ask—why would no one dare to call the Japanese people Pacific Islanders? Why pick on the Philippines?
Simple. Because Japan has produced cars and we have produced dried mangoes and pastillas. The Philippines has been so left behind by Asian countries that foreigners shake their heads and ask, “What happened to your country?” Let us not even compare the Philippines with the four Tiger economies, ‘cuz they’re just way way way too far ahead. What about Vietnam and Thailand? I read that for every one Filipino who has a Master’s Degree, Vietnam has 6, Thailand has 25 and Singapore has 200. But why bother to be educated when the national dream is to go abroad? We are scattered from Hongkong to Kazakhstan, from Italy to even North Korea. Thousands of our doctors are becoming nurses. Our teachers become caregivers. Our women become entertainers and prostitutes. Our young people only know one course and that is nursing. Why would foreigners respect us when we do not even respect ourselves? We are the country of Gucci Gangs—our elite own Picassos and they simply have no heart to alleviate and educate the masses, as F. Sionil Jose and Brian Gorrell—the pitiful Australian guy who was robbed by DJ Montano—sadly pointed out.
I am reminded of Condoleezza Rice, the first black woman to become the United States Secretary of State. She was born in Alabama and suffered discrimination on account of her color. But she was taught from a young age by her father, that she had to be “twice as good”and prove that she was deserving of advancement. Condoleezza Rice explains, “I was going to be so well prepared, and I was going to do all of these things that were revered in white society SO WELL, that I would be armored somehow from racism. I would be able to confront white society on its own terms.” (Washington Post, Lessons of Might and Right, How Segregation and an Indomitable Family Shaped National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, By Dale Russakoff, September 9, 2001)
The only way to answer people, who insist that we are uncivilized tribes is not by shooting off our mouths. The only answer is to beat them by studying and working ten times harder than the rest—to beat them not just once or twice, but to do so consistently for the next 20,30, 40, 50 years. Unless we Filipinos are prepared to love our country, and sacrifice ourselves by doing the extra-mile, we really deserve to be called stupid.
For more of these great articles, please visit The Brown Raise. Google it, it’s worth the read.