Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ranting and Raving

Art shot that has nothing at all to do
with the contents of this blog entry.

Every Filipino immigrant will have tales of little indignities and humilations to tell, injurious encounters with stereotypes and prejudices. Each one will tell you his own way of dealing with being a stranger in a land where the locals are occasionally assholes. I'm betting that majority will say that the best defense is no defense. Either get away from the situation or, if that's not possible, swallow your hurt and smile if you can. Unfortunately, I'm no Gandhi. What suits my temperament best, I find, is to look the monster in the eye and tell it to go back to the dark uneducated hole it came from.

The monster this last time was a small-village barman in his sixties, and the eyes, as is often the case with people of his profession, were rheumy. If that weren't enough to tell you who he was, just look at the popped blood vessels of an old alcoholic all abloom on his nose. We were there for hot chocolate, but he decided he'd also serve us with conversation. The group being multicultural, naturally he began by asking from where we came.

"Ah, the Philippines," his eyes lit up when he heard it. He proceeded to say he had friends over there--presumably as ancient and as potbellied as he--prolonging the life of their retirement euros where everything costs three times less. "It's a poor country," he said. "For you to be studying here, your parents must be capitalist businessmen. Are your parents rich?" I just looked at him, mildly appalled at the tactlessness.

The Belgian girl beside me corrected the assumption, saying I was here married to someone French. "Ah," he was at it again. You knew from the tone of his voice and how he smiled that he actually thought he was being friendly. "You got lucky. You found a way out."

Stunned, I was silent for a beat, during which the Belgian chick tried to come to my rescue by saying, "But no, it was her husband who got lucky!" But I never needed any saving.

"Monsieur," I finally found my voice, icy-cold though it was this time, "I did not get married to my husband to escape my country. Rest assured that I had a very good job and a very good life over there." I looked at him with what I tried very hard to be a withering stare. "I am not some poor, ignorant country girl, do you get that?"

At least he got that he wasn't welcome near our table, so he muttered something unintelligible before lumbering away. One of the French guys with us tried to calm me: "I don't think he meant it." And that is exactly my point. Very few of them mean it. They open their mouths to display how their thinking has been malformed by stereotypes and prejudices, and when confronted with how they had been offensive, they'll say they didn't mean it. They just didn't know any better. Are we to let them continue using ignorance as an excuse to do harm?

That's a big No for me. I take their education as my own personal responsibility. I open my mouth in turn and tell them off so that next time they see an Asian girl, they'll think twice about labeling her a spoiled brat, a poor island girl, or--let's not forget the great big scarlet brand--a whore.

Of course, my goals are not all lofty. "I don't think he meant it," Thomas said. "No, I'm sure he didn't," I replied. Then in a voice I made sure was loud enough to carry to where the monster was wiping glasses behind a counter, I continued, "He's just an idiot!"


decorator said...

oh my... ang kitid ng utak ng puta!!! kapikon.

Arashi-KIshu said...

Good on you mate! THank you for taking one for the team! I've never encountered anybody like him yet. Although may basis yung stereotype niya, hindi pa rin tama yung ginawa niya. I hope to have as good a comeback when I meet an asshole like him.

Makis said...

I would do the same so that once & for all, idiots would just stop stereotyping people.

Leah said...

good to voice out and be heard, di puwedend tatahimik lang.

mitsuru said...

I’m proud of you for standing up against that white thrash.

Happy Hearts Day

I’m linking you up if you don’t mind.

kala said...

Damn the Country Bobs of this country. Good thing you called him an idiot. I hope you used your strongest tone!
*flashing him the finger*


apol said...

Thanks for the show of support everyone. Let's all make this our New Year's resolution why don't we: Growl and gnash our teeth at narrow-minded bastards! Bite their heads off if they come too near!!! *add your preferred war cry here*

haze said...

Applause Apol! If i were in your place I would do the same, I hate being under estimated and because I never under estimate a person or a certain country ! Eh ano ngayon kung poor ang Pinas, hindi ibig we are uneducated! It only shows that he is TOTALLY AN IDIOT gggrrrr! I've heard that there is a dictionary (but I can't remember)that the meaning of Filipino is SLAVE ? Is this true ? Have you heard of this?

Analyse said...

ill do the same in your place.. well, i guess i did it already hehe..

katrina said...

I don't think it's at all "unfortunate" that you can't keep your mouth shut when faced with prejudice; it's admirable! Smiling and accepting their insults only confirms their ignorance. I also think we should speak up when people put down races other than ours. Filipinos can be VERY racist themselves, and I've had to tell people off a few times for saying something against, say, blacks. It's just plain wrong to consider one race better than another, and that's all there is to it.

Laurel said...

I think I would also have been enraged if the same thing happened to me Apol, you know, in a foreign country and all. Thing is, it also happens to me all the time here in the Philippines, hehe. A lot of idiotic, judgemental, tactless people also in these parts. So, keep your cool lang girl. Don't let them get to you because there will always be people like them. Not everyone's gifted with an IQ above room temperature ya know. Somebody has to be stupid and that guy took the cake.

apol said...

Hi, HAZE. Hinay-hinay ka lang :) No, I haven't seen a dictionary like that. I hope it doesn't exist!

I'm sure you have ANALYSE. I wouldn't be surprised if you also hit them on the head with one of your high-heeled shoes :)

I hear you, KATRINA. You don't even have to look too far. Haven't you noticed how some put down the Filipino-Chinese?

IQ above room temperature, I like that! Thanks, LAUREL.