Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Five Things You Should Never Say To A Filipino Migrant

Alright, so maybe I should’ve entitled this one as “Five Things You Should Never Say To ME As A Filipino Migrant ” but I would like to believe that I am doing justice to what others like me are thinking so bear with the title for now.

I know that most, if not all, of these are innocent comments borne out of the desire to make conversation and break the ice.  But it’s hard enough for a migrant to be the one sticking out, the one trying to adapt.  There's really no need to add uninformed and sometimes insensitive-comments-spiced-up-with-an-air-of-bigotry into the mix.  Hearing these comments just ABSOLUTELY brings out the worst in me.   

1. Comment:  Wow!  You speak English! (Variation:  It's amazing how you don't have a thick accent!)
My secret hostile thoughts:  Ummm…yeah, we’re pretty Westernized as a society and our colonial history includes a period of American occupation where our education system was heavily influenced among other things.  I also grew up watching Sesame Street as did majority of my peers.  I know you think you're complimenting me and maybe even trying to flatter me with your sharp observation but really you're also insulting my race by insinuating that you’ve always thought of us as backward and uneducated.  Besides, what is so wrong about not being able to speak English???

2. Comment:  It must be great growing up by the sea…oh those lovely beaches!
My secret hostile thoughts:  Right!....The thing is I grew up in the city, the urban jungle, and yes, like any metropolitan area, we have high-rises too.  I bet our malls are even bigger than the ones you’ve been to.  Please go online and Google the Philippines

3. Comment:  Philippines....Where is that???
My secret hostile thoughts:  Thanks.  Can you possibly make me feel any more insignificant right now?  But wait!  How can an idiot make me feel insignificant?  I'm zoning you out from this point on.

4. Comment: Oh yeah the Philippines!  Who doesn't know Imelda Marcos and her shoes, right?! (said with such beaming pride)
My secret hostile thoughts:  Out of the millions of other Filipinos, you equate us with a dictator known for plundered wealth and burying our country further in debt and poverty.  Seriously???  How about our national hero, polymath Jose Rizal?...or our modern day heroes like Lea Salonga, Charice Pempengco, Arnel Pineda.  I'm sure you've also heard of Manny Pacquiao?!

5. Comment:  Oh I'm sorry!  I thought you were Chinese!
My secret hostile thoughts:  Thank you for being so bright as to assume that Asian = Chinese.  Remind me again why I’m wasting my time with you??

I've heard of other annoying comments but I think these are the worst.  Feel free to add to the list.  Have you been in a situation where someone couldn’t quite ‘figure you out’, your race / ethnicity and then the person ended up spewing unbelievable crap?  Or maybe you were the one who couldn’t figure out the other person?  What did you do or say?