Saturday, August 26, 2006

Filipinos and Racism: Are Filipinos Racist?

I found this in my email vault concerning Filipinos and Racism. Are we a racist culture? Do we look down on others because they are different? Yes, I know. Right now you're thinking, "not again...this is a topic that is overplayed, overdiscussed, overanalyzed, and beaten like a dead horse." But Filipinos and Racism, in the Philippines? Are Filipinos racist?

In sharing the ABS-CBN email below, I only hope to open eyes, to make people see, to make people realize. To discuss, is to foster ideas. To hide it, and pretend it doesn't happen, well, you decide. (And by the way, I did receive an emailed response from them...but that is another post, don't you think?)
October 21, 2005
My Name Here
Makati City, Philippines
ABS-CBN Station
Management and Shareholders
Dear ABS-CBN management and shareholders:
I am writing this letter to express my extreme disappointment and utter disbelief in ABS-CBN for perpetuating racial discrimination and ignorance. On October 18, 2005, I saw a scene from the Yes Yes Show in which a character played by Aiko Melendez said “Nigger, Nigger, Nigger” at least three times consecutively to a seemingly black individual as a comedic punch line which meant to designate the said individual as an inferior and disgusting human being. It is demeaning, degrading, belittling, and mean-spirited, and it shows the ignorance of Filipino people.
As a minority of Filipino decent, born in the Philippines but raised in the United States, I have studied, and to some extent experienced, the struggles of African Americans or blacks, Chinese, Latinos, Filipinos, and other minorities who suffered, and still continue to, face racial discrimination. How many people have died fighting racial discrimination, and how many people today continue to be oppressed because of it? In 1999, I was chosen by my University as the student delegate on The Advancement of Minority Groups held in Washington, DC, and we discussed ways to promote our Filipino culture and fight prejudice, racial discrimination, and hatred. Thereafter, I conducted forums and seminars to advance the lot of the Filipinos and other minorities.
Since I have been raised in the US, I came back to the Philippines to rediscover my roots, to learn about my culture, to find what it is like to be a Filipino, a Pinoy, to contribute to my society by teaching what I know, and instead, I found something quite appalling and disgusting: my very own Filipino, my own kababayan, the ones I have been fighting for in the US, the ones I have been trying to represent and be proud of, who are advancing racial discrimination, prejudice, and hate. I am completely discombobulated and disturbed by this phenomenon.
“Nigger, nigger, nigger.” Those words reverberate in my head, as they slowly turn into “monkey, monkey, monkey.” Am I a brown monkey, chink, or yellow because I am Filipino, and I look Asian? Am I a dog killer? Am I dog eater? Do I eat cats? Am I a spic, a beaner, or a wetback because I also look Mexican? These are hurtful words that have been used by racist Americans to degenerate, degrade, belittle, and demean the human spirit. As a student activist in the US, I have tried my very best to educate those few hateful and ignorant people. And as a visitor here in this country, a balikbayan, and seeing this horrid scene on national television, I feel compelled to speak out; to simply let is pass would make me an irresponsible human being.
This is the 21st century and one would expect that people are a little more sensitive to racial issues through the advancement of technology, globalization, modernization, education, forums, and debate among many other factors. I believe the native Filipinos were once called “Indios,” a derogatory term bestowed upon them by their Spanish masters. So why should ABS-CBN and its management allow “Nigger,” a derogatory term bestowed upon the black African Americans who were captured and enslaved by their white, Anglo or Caucasian masters? Why would a political leader elected into office such as Aiko Melendez even agree to play such a character?
Do the people that subscribe to The Filipino Channel worldwide know that ABS-CBN is promoting hatred and racial discrimination? Do the shareholders know that they are supporting a station that is insensitive, careless, and irresponsible in regards to race issues? Growing up in the US, I have always thought that the Filipinos are respectful, responsible, and disciplined. I am totally dismayed by ABS-CBN’s actions as they have portrayed the Filipino people otherwise.
When I go back home to the US next month, I can only be truthful to those who will ask me how my trip was. I have seen so many beautiful things. And I have also seen so many ugly and disgusting things. I have seen the resiliency of the people, and at the same time, I have seen their widespread ignorance. Perhaps this ignorance is what makes the people resilient, for one must fall in order to display an act of resiliency. Perhaps this is a never-ending vicious cycle. I will let them know about this incident.
“Monkey, monkey, monkey!” I can only hope that when I get home, I will not get this reception as I step out of my plane, and live once again with my fellow Americans.

My Name Here



Wil said...

even here in california, some of my fellow pinoys openly say racist stuff about black people. it's mostly immigrant pinoys who say that kind of stuff. i don't know why some pinoys are like that.

Anonymous said...

Filipinos are not sensitve to multicultural isues. As you would recall in John & Marsha's sitcom, there is this man called mang tem-i, opposite of itim...who'se always been the laughing stuff of the show. Im sorry to tell you that filipinos dont know the struggles of black american.Lack of knowledge as you might say it. But generally filipinos are very kind and warm hearted people .

jhay said...

Since the words "Nigger" were used and used to degrade an individual of color then it is racisim.

We actually have our own version of it called 'regionalism'. We Tagalog-speakers often make fun of Bisayans because of their accents. Bikolanos because of the way they dress and so on. You'd hear these mostly at elementary schools were children innocently makes fun of their non-Tagalong-speaking classmates because they heard from the elders that Bisayans are these and that, Bikolanos are so and so, Cebunanos are like this and like that.

jhay said...

The Filipinos were way past tribalism when the Spanish colonizers arrived in the Philippines.

They used the divide and conquer strategy complimented with the sword and cross, this fermented the regionalism that is still persists in society today.

This is because our nationhood, started by initiated by the Ilustrados and given full expression by Bonifacio and the Katipunan were subverted and perverted by the regionalistic tendencies of Aguinaldo and the Magdalo.

I my self am a proud CaviteƱo. I'm also proud to have been born in a province of heroes and a cradle to the Philippine revolution, but whenever I recall the power struggle between Aguinaldo and Bonifacio and its outcome, I cannot be helped but be ashamed that Aguinaldo is from Cavite.

Anonymous said...

Fuck you! Filipinos aren't racist! We're just better than whites, who are the real racists. Pinoys are just superior to other "asians" (especially japs and chinese). Just because you're stupid doesn't make us racist. Don't hate on pinoys. Be proud! We're smarter, and have more integrity than any other people. Plus we're sexier.

Anonymous said...


"Fuck you! Filipinos aren't racist! We're just better than whites, who are the real racists. Pinoys are just superior to other "asians" (especially japs and chinese). Just because you're stupid doesn't make us racist. Don't hate on pinoys. Be proud! We're smarter, and have more integrity than any other people. Plus we're sexier."

Haha. Filipinos do love saying "Fuck you" all the time like that's the only swear word they know. No, you are not better than the whites (how many Filipino Nobel laureates are there?). And no, you are not better than the Japs or Chinese. Just consider, if you've ever been in the Philippines, you'll know a disproportionate amount of wealth belongs in the hands of the Chinese minority. Maybe that's why Filipinos are so racist, because they are envious of the success of other races.

AIEPRO said...

Many years later, I am now working with ABS-CBN, specifically with Star Magic. At least I get to affect their actors more directly.