A Filipina co-worker of mine hurriedly entered my cube the other day. I can tell from her agitated state that she had something big to share.
"Have you seen that Filipina-looking chick who's helping Finance audit for Sarbanes Oxley?" she whispered.
I shook my head.
"Well, I ran into her in the cafeteria and asked her if she was Filipino. Know what she said? 'I was born there but I'm not Filipino'
. Then she turned and walked away."
My jaw dropped and then we both started laughing. I told her next time she sees this girl, trip her and we'll she if she cusses in Tagalog (the Filipino language).
There is nothing I hate more than Filipinos who are ashamed of their nationality. Okay, that's not entirely true. I hate war, Bush, serial killers and some other things more. But it really makes me sad when I see Filipinos deny their "being Filipino." I don't mean those who were born in the United States of Filipino parents - although, I must admit, they used to irk me too. When I just moved here in the States and excitedly asked a Filipina-looking co-worker where in the Philippines she's from, she replied with "Oh, I'm not Filipino, I'm Hawaiian." When I met her husband a few years later, he introduced himself as Filipino, and claimed that his wife was too, but she grew up in Hawaii. Over the years, I've come to understand that Filipinos who were born here or spent most of their life here do consider themselves American, with no disrespect meant to their Filipino roots. That's just fine with me.
But going back to the girl who was born in the Philippines but is not Filipino, now that's the breed I take issue with. I am as mentally-colonized as the next brown being, embracing anything Western, but I have never and will never deny that I am Filipino. [The timing of that bold statement is ironic because I just sent my application for American citizenship to the US INS this morning.] Despite my dying my hair brown, trying to get rid of my accent, and applying for US citizenship (which is honestly just to avoid the hassle of those immigration lines whenever I travel), I am a Filipino in my heart, soul, bituka
. And this makes Filipinos who don't consider themselves as such not my friends.
I once had a co-worker (again!) who, although she introduced herself to me as Filipino, followed it up with "I'm a coconut - brown outside but white inside." Oh heavens! I've heard that connotation before but I never thought I'd actually hear it from someone! Later on, I heard that this lady owned an apartment complex, and she didn't rent out to Filipinos because "they tend to have a lot of family over". Oh hell! She has every right but please, don't let me meet any more people like these!
The Philippines is the world's second largest producer of coconuts*. I've never given that statement any thought until now.
*Socio Economic Research Portal