This article is my response to an article entitled FILIPINO RAISED IN SINGAPORE: I FEEL EMBARRASSED TO CALL MYSELF A FILIPINO on The Real Singapore, an online magazine/blog. Here’s my response:
FILIPINO RAISED IN THE UNITED STATES: I FEEL EMBARRASSED FOR FILIPINOS WHO ARE EMBARRASSED TO CALL THEMSELVES A FILIPINO.
The writer of the article starts by mentioning her origins and credibility; I shall do the same. I was born in the Philippines, and I moved to the United States when I was young. In Honolulu, Hawaii I finished elementary, intermediate, and high school, and in Seattle, I completed a B.A. in Political Science, graduating as the commencement speaker of the class. Shortly after college, I worked in Las Vegas in sales and marketing, business development, and training, and I have moved back to the Philippines to manage my own business, the American Institute for English Proficiency.
I had an opportunity to go to Singapore a few years ago as my friends and business partner wanted to go on vacation there, but I opted not to join them because I had thought at that time that it would be similar to the US; I went to Vietnam, Thailand, and Hong Kong instead. That means I don’t really have first-hand knowledge on how Filipinos behave or misbehave in Singapore. I only hear stories from my former clients and students stories.
However, my response is NOT fully about how Filipinos behave in Singapore. I am sure that there are many Filipinos who misbehave in a foreign country as there are many foreigners who also misbehave in the Philippines. I am sure that there are many Singaporeans who also misbehave in another foreign country. In fact, my father, who lives in Las Vegas, is almost a perfect resident in the US, but when he comes back to the Philippines for a visit, he sometimes runs amok. I shall not be embarrassed to be my father’s son.
My point is, there will always be people, regardless of race, sex, gender, age, or belief, who do not behave the way we want them to behave. We should criticize the behavior, not the race.
The embarrassment is not whether they misbehave or not. The bigger embarrassment is when someone, regardless of race, generalizes an entire culture because of a few individuals. There roughly 170,000 Filipinos residing in Singapore, with more than half a million Filipinos coming in as tourists. I’m not quite sure how many Filipinos the writer has observed to make such a conclusion, but regardless of her observations, there are much better ways to express her disappointment.
Instead of attacking an entire race or culture and being embarrassed to be “called a Filipino,” the writer could have simply attacked the “bad behaviors” and provided solutions.
So instead of falling into the traps of the fallacy of hasty generalization, the writer could have mentioned that there are certain behaviors that people, regardless of race, color, or national origin, should avoid. After all, these “bad behaviors,” are not unique to the Filipinos. I have seen a display of these poor behaviors in public by other races as well. Thus, it is very insensitive and tactless for a Filipino to be embarrassed of being a Filipino simply because of the bad behavior of a few.
If the writer’s logic were to be accepted, then I could also say that my friend Sergio should be embarrassed to be a Mexican because of a few poorly behaving Mexicans, then my friend Thibaut should be embarrassed to be French because of a few poorly behaving French nationals, and my friend Cary should be embarrassed to be an American for a few poorly behaving Americans. Hence, everyone should be embarrassed of their cultures.
Instead of creating racial divides, pitting the Filipinos against the Singaporeans, the writer could have been more sensible and, I reiterate, just pointed out the bad behaviors and a solution to the problem.
I’m not even going to discuss the writer’s points because his or her points seem more emotion- than logic-driven. The writer finishes the article by saying that he or she sounds “Singaporean” because of having lived there for a decade. She could have just sounded more human than Singaporean. Let me finish my post in the same way she ended her article: I have lived in the US for about two decades, and as a human, as a Filipino raised in the United States, as a Filipino who returned to the Philippines, as a Filipino who has traveled to many places, and as a Filipino proud to be Filipino, and as a human being, I feel embarrassed for the writer.
And to fellow Filipinos: Let’s fix our behavior when we are guests in other countries so that another Filipino would not just generalize about our culture and be embarrassed to be a Filipino.