What are qualities or experiences that you associate with Filipinos?
I grew up in Jersey City, an area whose populous consists of a fair amount of Filipinos. (We even have our very own Jollibee). My K-8 private Catholic school was made up of probably 95% Filipinos. Needless to say, it was quite easy to fit in. Having been surrounded by Filipinos for the entirety of my life, I’ve observed certain behaviors that are consistent in our community – some being positive, others not so much.
Almost a month ago, I was scrolling through my favorite website for opinion pieces and interesting articles when the familiar blue, white, yellow and red of our pixelated flag caught my eye, and the title of the article captured my attention. There it was, in black, bold and Helvetica: “The Problem With Filipinos.”
The author of this article, Sade Andria Zabala, beautifully wrote about all of the issues I have towards my own race. For the longest time, I felt wrong to criticize my own. But as I read each word, I found myself vigorously nodding my headin agreement with each statement. I felt lighter. I felt understood. I felt like I wasn’t alone, andit inspired me to write about the problems with Filipinos that I witness every day.
The problem with Filipinos is that we’re selfless to a fault.
We give and give until we have nothing left for ourselves. We spoil our families back home with wants instead of needs while we struggle here in America looking for a job that will hire mere green card holders. We deal with the poor treatment and working conditions out of love for our families and pride in ourselves.
The problem with Filipinos is that we’re selfish.
We think that life abroad is easy and glamorous. We think that living in America is equal to prosperity. We see abroad as an opportunity for a better life, while our dream is to leave the country.
The problem with Filipinos is that we don’t know what we want.
Because we want what we don’t have. Because the OFWs (Oversea Filipino Workers) want to come home, and those left in the Philippines desperately want to leave. Because neither can appreciate how good they have it.
The problem with Filipinos is that we’re accustomed to tardiness because we think it is a part of who we are.
We do not take into consideration how our ability to constantly be late tells others that our time is more valuable and important than theirs.
The problem with Filipinos is that everyone’s business is our business.
Gossiping is our favorite pastime. We live for juicy secrets and bones in the closet. We completely disregard privacy and boundaries because we don’t care about your feelings, we care about your dirt.
The problem with Filipinos is that we’re doormats.
We are too generous and let friends and especially family take advantage. Because, in case you didn’t know, asking for a loan for tens of thousands of pesos is not necessarily chump change for those Filipinos living in America.
The problem with Filipinos is that we’re too strict.
We treat our kids like they’re 12 when they’re 20. We ingrain the motto, “No boypren, pocus on your studies muna” into our children. We keep them on too short of a leash that they flee once given a taste of freedom.
The problem with Filipinos is that we need a reality check.
Our pride restrains us. We will never fix the problems described above because we don’t see them as problems at all. Well, this is me. I’m a fellow Filipina with a reminder that we’re flawed.
Image by Sade Andria Zabala