By Gel Santos Relos
While we are honestly aware of our idiosyncracies, quirks and weaknesses -- and would often admit them amongst ourselves -- when it comes to derogatory remarks and criticisms from foreigners, we still end up being collectively united in fighting hard to defend our country and our "Pinoy pride". Why is this so? Is it our deep sense of nationalism or being "balat sibuyas"?
Claire Danes. Adam Carolla. Jimmy Sieczka. US Ambassador Harry Thomas, etc.
Every now and then, people from different countries come up with negative words that hit many of our kababayans to their very core -- compelling them to fight with all their might against these "banyaga," who speak ill about our beloved Philippines.
In a Premiere Magazine article in 2009, she said Manila "smelled of cockroaches, with rats all over, and that there is no sewerage system, and the people do not have anything - no arms, no legs, no eyes."
This caused an uproar among Pinoys. No less than former President Joseph Estrada said, "She should not be allowed to come here. She should not even be allowed to set foot here.” This was his statement in support of then Manila Councilor Kuya Kim Atienza’s resolution, to declare the actress persona non grata and ban all Danes' movies from being shown in Manila.
Claire Danes then issued a statement saying, “"Because of the subject matter of our film Brokedown Palace, the cast was exposed to the darker and more impoverished places of Manila. My comments in Premiere Magazine only reflect those locations, not my attitude towards the Filipino people. They were nothing but warm, friendly, and supportive."
In 2010, kababayans were, once again infuriated, when comedian Adam Corolla criticized our Pambansang Kamao Manny Pacquiao in a live radio interview country, for refusing drug testing ahead of a boxing match with American Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Carolla said: "But because he's from the Philippines and because he's prayin' to chicken bones and stuff like that, everyone's kinda like, 'Well you gotta respect him for his belief system.' No you don't. He's a f****n' idiot."
He then continued on with his verbal attack of the Philippines: “They got this and sex tours, that's all they have over there. Get your s**t together Philippines. Jesus Christ. I mean, again, it's fine to be proud of your countrymen. But that's it? That's all you got?"
Filipinos from all over the world utilized the internet, social media and blog sites to show their protest against Carolla. Filipino-American organizations clamored for advertisers to boycott his radio programs. Former Pres. Arroyo’s spokesman Gary Olivar was quoted as saying: "He is an ignorant fool who belongs to a sick minority in the United States."
Finally, Carolla responded via Twitter: "Read your comments. Sorry if I offended many of u. I don't preplan my commentary. I try to be provocative, funny but I crossed the line and I’m sorry." Then he tweeted:"By the way, I think Manny is a great fighter”.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said Thomas's statement was an "assault on our national integrity," and an “assault to the morality of the entire Filipino people."
Senator Francis Escudero, for his part, said the Department of Foreign Affairs should summon Thomas. "It's bad enough that Filipinos are abused and insulted in other countries. Will we allow this even in our own country?”
Ambassador Thomas issued an apology after, but recently retracted and said that he is standing by his statement. As we reported on Balitang America, Thomas said he only apologized for his statement to minimize the ruckus it has caused.
“The reason why I apologized, I just want to get out of a stir but if you want to talk seriously then let’s look at a serious challenge, you can go on YouTube and see ECPAT and they say 40 to 62 percent, this is not Harry Thomas, this is a Filipino organization,” said Thomas.
ECPAT international is a global network of organizations and individuals working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes.
“What I was saying, I was ashamed, as an American, that American men would come here for that reason. People took it as an insult that I was insulting Filipino women. Those same people ignore what you see in Malate, in Ermita every night and you know it’s true.”
Also recently, Jimmy Sieczka, an American expat in Cebu, who made the video, "20 Things I Dislike About the Philippines," was also subjected to fiery responses from our kababayans via comments, blogs, commentaries, tweets, and a Councilman’s resolution to declare him persona non grata.
The video showed actual footages of things Sieczka disliked about the Philippines and commentaries from the American ex-pat like: “You have a gigantic hole on the sidewalk, how do you fix it? Put a f***ing garbage can.....”
“Somebody sells Cialis (Viagra) to me on the street.” On street-food stalls he said: “As you can see, sanitation and refrigeration’s thrown out the f***ing window here in the Philippines… You hungry? I’m not. And so on and so forth.
After receiving defensive attacks from angry Pinoys, Jim apologized and said: “For those of you that think that this video was made to show my hate for the Philippines I must say that you are sadly mistaken...Those that actually get the piece and realize I’m just stating the obvious in an unconventional way in order to spark change, thanks and salamat!”
“There needs to be some more positive changes to the Filipino communities. Never once did I use the word hate in the piece. I simply pointed out issues that have been overlooked for quite some time,” he added.
While we are honestly aware of our idiosyncracies, quirks and weaknesses -- and would often admit them amongst ourselves -- when it comes to derogatory remarks from foreigners, we still end up being collectively united in fighting hard to defend our country and our people against outside criticisms. Ibang usapan na kapag sa banyaga nanggagaling ang mga puna at pintas!
Why is this so? Is this a manifestation of our deep sense of nationalism? Or are we being so “balat sibuyas” or sensitive when our “Pinoy pride’ is being attacked? How do you think we Filipinos should respond to opinions and criticisms against our country and our people?
Photo Credit: Pinoy Pride: Pinoy Tattoos
(Asian Journal Column March 28, 29, 30, 2012)