Dinner At McDonalds With Jarheads: What Filipinos need to understand about respect

This article is written in tribute to Fallen Angel’s latest article as well as this old article by Benign0

“U.S. Marine” or “U.S. Military”, what do those words mean to most of us? For the typical Pinoy at least, those words either refer to a group of soldiers or military men who are probably some of the best in the world, able to quell rebellions and defeat terrorists at a moment’s notice or they’re those raunchy white (or sometimes black) foreigners eager to get laid in the Philippines. Unfortunately, very few Pinoys ever realize that these foreigners are really not that different from them and are also doing most of what they do to make a good living.

Well, just so you know, I was also raised by a military man myself. My grandfather was in the U.S. Navy and he taught me most of what I know about the English language as well as world history from the many books that line our household. I am willing to say, and proudly at that, that I learned more from my grandfather and our talks rather than the typical crap I got from my “formal” education.

US MarinesAnyway, on to the point, American servicemen receive a mixed image here in the Philippines. However, views towards them are often severely polarized and somewhat even dehumanizing in its own right. They are either seen as squeaky-clean heroes trying to protect freedom and all it entails or greedy villains who sate their wanton desires on third-world countries like our own. This is especially true with U.S. marines with some thinking that they are the key to the Philippines winning the war with China and the MILF or they are openly demonized by the media because of what happened to Jeffrey Laude and a certain rape case that happened not to long ago. But then, what I’m about to recount here might give you an alternate view of them…

It was late one evening not long ago while I was busy working out at a gym. The gym was almost deserted save for me, about two others and, of course, the gym staff. Then about eight guys and two girls came pouring into the gym. They wore t-shirts labeled with “USMC”.

They quickly got to working out, lifting weights and chatting while they were at it. The subjects of their talk altered here and there with some complaining how they were being literally “ambushed” by hookers and peddlers to the somewhat vulnerable state of the Philippines thanks to its inept government. But then, they started talking literature, particularly King Arthur and that’s when I surprised them.

When one marine was asked about the three “Grail Knights” of the epic and could only remember Percival and Galahad, I answered “Bors” for him and they all looked at me. Soon enough we were talking gleefully about King Arthur then moved to American literature where we talked about Tom Sawyer as well as Edgar Allan Poe. After the gym closed, we all went to a 24-hour branch of McDonalds’ and continued our talk there.

The talk soon took a turn towards more unpleasant topics. Well I won’t bore you with details, but here are the major points of our conversation:

Actions Will Always Speak Louder Than Words

The thing is, while we struggle to deny that the Philippines is a country of slaves and prostitutes and take offense to such statements, there is no denying the fact that this is what most foreigners see when they come to the Philippines or when they see Filipinos. While a lot of us may not admit it, there are enough prostitutes and peddlers in the Philippines to make a lot of tourists assume that this is all we are. With all the Filipinos taking menial jobs outside the country, it becomes easy for many foreigners to assume that these are the kind of jobs that we prefer.

“Show don’t tell.” said one of the two female marines.

We can say all we want that Filipinos are well-educated, smart and efficient but with so few of these to see, it becomes fairly easy to assume the opposite. Indeed, the marines went on to tell me that not all marines are “killing machines” and that some of them are IT professionals, cooks or generally non-combat roles (one of the ones I was having dinner with turned out to be gay even, despite being an intimidating black dude) but it is often their more aggressive brethren that are seen and are therefore the stereotype.

However, unlike the marines who must maintain their image of being highly efficient killers, we Filipinos can change our image of being slaves and prostitutes. Unfortunately, no one in the Philippines seems to be too interesting in changing our national image. We can call ourselves anything we want and “claim” that we are a noble people but, when we do the opposite, is it any surprise that the international community continues to laugh at us?

Respect Begets Respect

After stereotyping, another big problem with typical Pinoys is their constant demand for respect. Instead of earning respect the right way (which maybe difficult but is actually more awesome), we simply jump at people criticizing us and use our “Persona Non Grata” card. If we really want respect, according to the marines, we must first learn to respect ourselves, our laws and then others.

Above all else, we must learn to respect ourselves first. While there are beggars and prostitutes all over the world, we must first learn to explore other options before taking the easy way out all the time. It’s true that life is often hard and that many of us have to make do with what is given to us, but it’s another thing entirely to fall back on easy solutions all the time.

How can we present ourselves as the “respectable” people we claim to be when the typical Pinay’s idea of a “success story” is marrying a rich foreigner for his money? How can people see us as a “noble” and “brave” people when the best thing we can do about foreign invasion is whine about it?

Your Enemies Might Not Share Your Ideals

Another of the authors we discussed was Robert Heinlein, more specifically his book Starship Troopers, which featured a Filipino protagonists. However, going beyond that point, the idea behind the book is that while pacifism is good, it might be nothing more than “wishful thinking” in some respects. Going back to Benign0’s article here, it’s quite clear that some of us, especially people like De Lima and Ferrer, don’t exactly understand that the MILF and PRC don’t share our values and ideas.

Sure, they’re people too, I know that. But it’s like some of our “pacifist” officials seem to think that the Chinese military and the terrorists of the south will somehow stop antagonizing us because they will suddenly have a change of heart and pity us. To believe in God or the goodness of humanity is not a bad thing, but expecting it to solve everything is naivete or outright madness.

Like one marine said before we left: “Be nice and smile but keep your rifle as an insurance policy.”


Post Author: Grimwald

I came that you may know PAIN and have it in abundance...

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18 Comments on "Dinner At McDonalds With Jarheads: What Filipinos need to understand about respect"

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walter p komarnicki
‘jarhead’ sounds a bit demeaning, but that aside, the USMC does have a proud history, ‘from the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.’ They solved the piracy problem during President Madison’s term in very short order. But they can’t be everywhere: in VietNam, when the Chinese brought out this huge oil rig, this quickly roused the Vietnamese to drive the intruders out. Their fighting spirit sent the Chinese a very clear message – that they were not to be messed with! But we seem to take the opposite tactic, that winning in an international court will somehow change… Read more »
Before my father died, he said the worst thing about growing old was that other men stop seeing you as dangerous…I’ve always remember that how being dangerous was sacred, a badge of honor. You live your life by a code. An ethos, every man does. It’s your shoreline. It’s what guides you home and trust me, you’re always trying to get home. Your father was a reader, Churchill of course, but also Faulkner and books about Tecumseh. He loved artists who painted people with bodies that looked like boxes. I’d give him hell about that. He’d just say you gotta… Read more »

The soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.


WAR. Those who started it don’t know how to end it. Those who know how to end it will start it.

We have too many prostitutes and beggars; because , we have too may Squatters in Metro Manila. Squatting on private properties, were made legal. So, Squatters multiplied like rabbits. These people have no decent jobs. To survive, they have to become: prostitutes; criminals; drug peddlers; etc… As long Prostitues are our “tourist attraction”, the Philippines will never have respect. As long as our OFW, are “servants of the world”, we will be looked down by other countries. I do not look down on these OFWs. Serving people is an honest way to earn a living…they are better than those stinking/… Read more »
Presidente Emilio

Respect is earned, not given.

If most Filipinos fail to understand this, it’ll only make them arrogant bastards.

We are a brave people. History has already proven that. But it can only go so far with an incompetent leadership at the helm. As Talleyrand said, “I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep.”

So far, a bunch of sheep are leading us.

Bing Bong
Theh ‘Jar -heads’ THINK they are tough, and TOGETHER THEY ARE !!!! But I will tell,When I was about 12 yrs. old a future Marine sucker punched me,I was half his size and probably still am, I got him on the ground and blackened his eyes so badly he claimed he ‘fell down the stairs’.I BEST THE FUCK out of that scumbag.Frankie was his name. Flash forward 10 yrs. and ‘Frankie’ had just gotten out of ‘boot camp MARINE TRAINING school’ with flying colors and he walked past my house while I was sitting on the stoop.NO DOUBT he remebered… Read more »
Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airman or just plain tourists… Its all food for thought. Some of you may feel the need to dehumanize or demoralize the Marines to make yourselves feel better but I don’t think that was the point of the article. The Marines in the Gym could have been from any background. Why is it so hard for people to understand that US Military Servicemen are just everyday people? We (foreigners) all see the same things here. The country is in a shit state but when WE say it, out comes the attacks. If you don’t like the way… Read more »

US military is a racket in the service of Chiquita Bananas, Haliburton, Chevron, Exon, US crony capitalism. To think so otherwise would make you as deluded as most Yanks. Philippines must be the biggest US sycophant, even worse than the Europeans. Must be the only country sucking up to the biggest terrorist and fraud on earth, the US Idiocracy….hey have you forgotten your own history, or did that US of A write it for you???