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When ‘Ish’ Meets ‘Weh’
Friday, January 18, 2013
A CONVERSATION during my layover in Hong Kong International Airport enroute to Chicago went this way.
Woman with a heavy Visayan accent approaches me and gives me the head to toe. Her tone sarcastic: “‘Day, Chicago ka din?” Me: “Opo.” Her: “First time mo dun?” Me: “Opo.” Her: “Pakakasal ka sa Kano?” Me: “Hindi po. Dun lang po ako magChristmas kasama ng mother at ate ko.” Her: “Tourist visa ka? Ilang beses kang nag-apply bago ka na-approve?” Me: “Isang beses lang po. Na-approve po ako agad.” Her: “Pero first time mo. American citizen ako. Pabaka-bakasyon na lang ako sa Pilipinas. Alam mo bang hanapin ang boarding gate natin? Baka mawala ka. First time mo pa naman. Madaming naliligaw na Pilipino sa mga airport.” Me: “It’s alright. I could manage.”
I walked away seething with anger. Unbelievable. All that time she had this superior tone. I wanted to slap her and tell her I saw her on the plane and that just like me she flew ECONOMY as well. Had she been flying first class she still did not have the right to treat me or any other Filipino the way she did.
I eavesdropped on a conversation among Filipinos, Canadian citizens, I believe, in the same airport. This time, on my way home.
Older woman: “Matagal na kami sa Canada. Mga twenty years na.” Younger woman: “Mga five years pa lang po kaming mag-asawa.” OW: “Mabuti yan. At least andun na kayo. Magsipag lang kayo dun, gaganda talaga buhay nyo. Problema kasi sa mga Pilipino, ang tatamad. Mas gusto na lang nila maghanap ng matandang Amerikano na mapapakasalan para makapunta dun. Pagdating dun, gumastos lang ang alam. Di nila alam ang value ng hard work. Gusto ibigay na lang ng ibigay ang lahat.”
This time I was both sad and angry but I was so tired from my 16-hour flight from O’Hare that I hardly had the energy to butt in and give the woman a piece of my mind. But on the other hand that would’ve been disrespectful and I had to bear in mind the values my Filipino parents taught me and respect for elders tops the list.
I found the US a nice place to live in. My brief stay there taught me that there is no excuse not to live well and organized and that discipline and respect for the law, indeed, must be better ingrained in citizens for a country to become more progressive.
I have great respect for the Filipinos I’ve met, who through hard work, have managed to give their children and parents a better life. I have great respect for the Americans who show high regard for our race, praising us for our resourcefulness and determination.
The sad realization is that it doesn’t take an American or any foreigner to give Filipinos a bad name. We have our high and mighty kababayans to do that for us. Whoever gave them the right to look down on Filipinos and the country which cradled them from birth, I will never know.
One thing is for sure, there are Filipinos who might have gone to the US but they haven’t arrived at all. And they will never get anywhere. They’d be forever stuck in their belief that they are above everyone else they left behind here.
How wrong they are.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 18, 2013.