Racism in the Philippines

For those few keeping up with my Deep series, please don’t worry, I’m working on Chapter 5 as I write this. However, I’m afraid this issue to be discussed can’t wait because of its utmost importance. I’m afraid that, all things considered, this is a topic that needs to be heard by all Filipinos because of how deep it has infected us as a people.

Anyway, racism is a touchy subject for a lot of people. For Filipinos, when the idea of racism is ever mentioned, they will probably think one of two things: One, they will think of the black vs. whites issues going on in the West, more specifically the United States. Second, they will probably think of the foreigners who have had something to say against the Philippines like Alec Baldwin or Clair Danes. However, I strongly doubt that they will ever even think of themselves as blatantly racist even when it’s so clear that we are every bit as racist or even more so than those they accuse of it.

So, do I believe that most Pinoys are racist? Honestly, yes and magnitudes worse than some out there I might add. Here are my points if you want to hear them:

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Standards of Beauty

One of the mildest ways we show our racism is in our standards of “beauty”. Of course, this is changing with some people as they come to recognize that brazen skin or an ebony complexion is attractive in its own right. However, no one can deny that majority of Pinoys still consider light skin is the go-to for the idea of beauty. Many of our celebrities like Marian Rivera, Heart Evangelista and Anne Curtis are widely lauded for being white and looking nothing like your average Filipina. In fact some of my foreign friends go on to comment that majority of the celebrities the masses worship do not look us at all and it looks as if they’re watching a European (specifically Spanish or Italian) show. It pains me to admit that in some circles, dark skin is still considered a mark of ugliness. In some schools, I still hear a lot of issues of bullying wherein students are being ostracized for having dark skin and being called “itang gala”. Also, in many teleseryes, how do they present a lead character as “ugly”? Simple! Darken her skin with cosmetics.

Racist Remarks 

Pinoys have always been sore winners and losers. When Pacquiao or any Filipino who wins a prestigious international award, many Pinoys clamor “Pinoy Pride” everywhere like there’s no tomorrow. However, when they lose, they resort to using below-the-belt tactics in degrading the foreign winner and calling them all kinds of mean things. Take note how so many Pinoys called Iranians “smelly” when they beat our soccer team, remember how so many attacked the recent Ms. Angola when our representative lost that competition and I know that remarks against Floyd Mayweather’s physiognomy continue to pour in as I write this because some people just can’t accept the defeat of their idol. In the end, people resort to slurs and worse just because they can’t accept the reality of Pinoy inferiority.

Social Bias Against Natives

Sadly, this is a grim reality that I find difficult to accept especially because we like to claim that we are a “modern” people. To this day, people view Negritos and other tribes like the Bajao and Igorots as inferior and backward despite the fact that common Pinoys also hold a lot of outdated beliefs like the superiority of race, for example. This kind of thinking was once prevalent in the West but has now faded into obscurity in developed countries with Native Americans becoming more mainstream and the Ainu of Japan becoming a respected part of Japanese culture. I can only pray and hope that these tribes will one day be seen as equals by our fellows and be accepted as a people who are as beautiful and smart as our common countrymen.

34 Replies to “Racism in the Philippines”

  1. Yes, I agree that many Filipinos are quite of a racist too. They can discriminate in many areas like your darker skin, your intelligence, your petite stature, your size, your appearance, the region you came from, your profession, your religion and even from which school you came from. Even living in abroad (Europe) now for the last 20 years, some would approached me, “Gusto niyo bang gumanda, para mas pumuti kayo?…” Another one told me, “Are you tired of your dark skin?” A batch mate in high school told me, “Sayang saimo, nasa harong ka lang” (you’re wasted, you’re JUST at home). Another schoolmate told me, “ano ka kino? XS ka pa rin? hahaha dai ka nagtalubo (meaning: what are you a mouse? You’re still XS, you never grew up) I have more to enumerate but in the end, I ignore them and sometimes too I reply in a philosophical but diplomatic way or give them my article about discrimination and that as a human being, I have a right against discrimination.

  2. In addition to what I shared: p.s. If you happen to be married to a foreigner you are also discriminated by envious, judgmental pinay women. If you happen to be legally separated or a divorcee you are still discriminated and even if you have moved on in life from a divorcee state you carry that stigma most especially with fellow kababayan. If you happen to be gay or lesbian that too is discriminated by others. If you happen to be very intelligent but you didn’t come from the top school of the country, that one too you can be pinched and kicked to the curb by the ones coming from the top school of the country and would tag you “probinsyana ka lang.”

  3. As a western man who admires Filipina beauty, I always say, “If I wanted a white woman I would have stayed home. I came here for a petite (tiny) very dark skinned woman and no other will do.”

    1. Haha…

      Then I must confess, I’ve always wanted to marry a strong Russian woman, NOT because Russians are superior to Filipinos, mind you.

      It is because Russian culture teaches women to be strong. What I look for in women is not beauty but brains and brawn, not something your typical Pinay is known for.

      Well, to be honest, I once met a cute farm girl who was nice in our province. Unfortunately, she was already taken. I hope there’s more like her. 🙁

      1. On Russian women, I can tell you the ones from the Asian side are better. Strong but nice. The ones from the European side will not give Asian-looking people the time of day, mostly. Strong racism, probably from the time Russians remember from their history when the Mongols fucked them over. Asian Russians are much more relaxed…

        And interesting features, most Russian women from Asia will deny Asian roots but they often do have some mixture.

        1. hi Ireneo, I disagree on your statement about the ones from European side will not give asian looking people the time of day.. i personally knew some of them are a bit racist but not as bad as us pinoys. what i do like most with russian women is that they are strong-willed and independent.
          i was lucky to have one.

        2. I agree with the people who disagree about Russian people being “racist”! I’d dare say that the average Filipino will likely get along even better with “white” Russians than they would with “white” Americans on a person-to-person basis based on what I’ve been hearing from Filipinos who’ve had interacted with various types of “white people”.

          In fact, Russians tend to rank high in the list of “white people” we get along with best on a person-to-person basis among Filipinos with international experience! Even a number of Russians I’ve known have noted this similarity in temperament as well! It’s hard to brush those opinions aside when I notice that Russians localize here much more readily than people of many other Western nationalities!

          Plus if you see “white women” hooking up with local Filipino men in this country of ours (of which the number is slowly but steadily growing), chances are a LARGE portion of the “white women” who do are Russians! Travel around the country and ask the locals in various provinces which nationalities of white women are hooking up with local men in their area, chances are they will mention Russian women!

          Just my two cents on the matter! Thanks!

    2. @ J.L., W-W-W-WHAT? who are you kidding? your statement assumes that there are no petite dark skinned women in the states, HA! and that is just bullshit dude.There are plenty of them ,they are all over the place. FACE IT: You went to the Failippines because that is the one place where you could find one like that whose circumstances are desperate enough that they are are wiling to be with your ugly ass. LOL, I mean really, who do you think your kidding, besides yourself, with that bullshit?

  4. A Pacquiao victory would have doomed Pinoys. It’d be like giving the Arkenstone to Thorin Oakenshield while under dragon sickness. It would’ve lulled every Pinoy on the street into thinking that they too have all sorts of superiority over other nationalities.

    Back to reality, Filipinos.

  5. Well said Grimwald…. I was married to a city girl who along with her sister and friend’s seemed to buy into the white skin theory….Well, sh ewas all about the money, control and nastiness….I’m rid of her for the better…I’ll take my sweet, dark skinned Filipina Farm girl beauty any day over any white skinned city girl! If I wanted to marry a white Asian, I would have married a Korean girl !

  6. People are people, no matter what color, appearances, ethnicity and culture, they came from in our Planet.

    I find the “white skin beauty” mindset; not only in the Philippines; but in Mexico, and other Spanish colonized countries in South America.

    It is because the Spanish Colonizers, degraded us natives, of our appearances; our cultures and our beliefs.

    We have to tell ourselves: “Brown is Beautiful…” My dark skin, has nothing to do with my humanity, my intellect and my intelligence. It is that way, I am created.

    I see no difference between a brown cat and a white cat. If one is a better mouse catcher. Then, he/she is a better cat…

    1. Even within Spain, they still unconsciously divide people by their color. The whiter and blonder the better, the word “blue blooded” came from Spain and referred to the first kings there who were Germanic Visigoths who were so white that their veins showed up blue.

      Darker people are referred to as “morenos” meaning Moorish-looking, a legacy of the Reconquista against the Arab occupiers.

      1. so moreno has actually a bad meaning.. but i really love morena…. i think i will not call my crush morena, but “natural beauty”

  7. Is it just me or do they say “Foreigner” with lots of jealously and contempt. The locals love to use the word “Foreigner” and we always get the question is the babies dad a “Foreigner” then of course then ask the mother if she is the yaya.

    1. Is the word only used for western people too? (With the expectation you’re talking about a white man unless proved otherwise). In two years here I’ve never heard that very welcoming ‘foreigner’ label applied to anyone else, they’ll usually specify Asian and Middle East nationalities.

      But if the alternative is ‘kano’ or ‘Joe,’ I’ll take foreigner. Even if I live here the next 50 years, I’ll be foreigner.

      1. Just like people in the states say black for a african-american person, white for a Caucasian person.

        Nothing else, nothing more.

      2. I give you five years ,if your lucky (MAYBE slightly longer,MAYBE)!!!! and when you leave and go back to wherever it was you were from you will wonder how you were ever able to put up with the shit you put up with as long as you did. GUARANTEED.if you do not live on the beach in a secluded region, I give you even less than that.

  8. I find this all to be a bit funny. Most Dutch people will start to enjoy the first rays of sunshine by wearing thinner fabric of clothes. Then when full summer starts they wil go to the beach, swimming pool and/or parks to get a tan by wearing less and less clothes (shorts, short sleeved T-shirts, trunks, bikinis). We want to get a darker skin. And while we do that we will avoid skin cancer by using sunblock (protecting from UV). If you go to European beaches and parks, you can see this almost everywhere

    I am sure most white caucasion man (males) find women with darker skin very exotic and hence very attractive.

    1. @ Robert, Uh NO WAY.Filipina’s whitening their skin, black chics in the states doin the same thing PLUS wearing wigs and straightening their hair. Sorry bro, WHITE is were its at, THIN is in and Brown is a bit,WELL, TBH….. like MUD !!!

      I did not make this up either, just stating the obvious facts, and I could have gone on for a while longer too. BUT you get the picture,I’m sure.

  9. No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.

    And Failipinos in the Failippines are so goddamn good and making a career out of it.

  10. a lot of filipinos who are married to the same race along with their parents put you down if you are married to a white or black American especially if you are a woman. they automatically assume that you were a hooker, they’re so ignorant yet they claimed themselves as highly educated people. now some of their children are married or living together with white or black Americans.
    also on some of the functions my husband and i attended to, they specified that these seats are for mixed marriages and these seats are for solid marriages (filipino to filipino). in parties they also kept staring at mixed marriages especially if your husband is black American.

  11. The most disturbing thing about racism here in the Philippines is that many casually speak of racism without any repercussions and regrets, and if one complains, the typical reply of a Pinoy is that “it is a joke.”

    And there is this thing about Pinoys raging over something they perceive as “racist” when on the receiving end despite that they talk racist stuff casually and simply say it is a joke.

    1. A little off topic but wanted to share:

      It’s not just with racism, while still in college, I’d find groups making jokes at ,supposedly, their group’s butt monkey. When they feel he/she is getting offended, They’d just say something along the lines of “wag ka naman magalit” (C’mon, don’t get angry) or “joke lang yun” (It’s just a joke) as you said.

      It’s like passing something as a joke was some sort of “great loophole” for them to make fun of others

      1. this really makes me angry, like those people who will say something like it is a fact but then if you ask “really” they will laugh and you will be the “patola” the f*** is with that logic? that is why i really say it to them in this really serious tone, “so lagi ko bang i-aasume na sinungaling kang tao at hindi papaniwalaan ang sinasabi mo” then they will react defensively and say that i’m too serious, oh yes i’m serious when a joke doesn’t make any sense.

        There is always a person in the group that is the shock absorber of the bullying, like this perosn have no emotion of anger that anything that you throw at that person is ok. I dont like that, so i defend him/her then those people who like to laugh at her will again say that i’m too serious, yes im serious if i feel like another person is offended. Then i feel great sometimes because she thank me for defending her because she admits she was really hurt sometimes by the words, she was afraid to be called too serious, but i advised her to set a limit for herself.

        I really hate those who like to bully that will act defensive when you reacted and say “you are too serious”. For every action there is a reaction… some who like to bully expects that for their action there will be no reaction but laughter..

  12. Filipinos ( and Latinos) tend to be more racist as you move up the social scale. Thus, so-called educated Filipinos and rich Filipinos tend to be the most racist. The lower you go down the social ladder, the friendlier and more accepting.

    In America ( and Europe, and Russia) it’s the opposite. The poor and uneducated people are the most racist, the ones who are richer and better educated accept other races and mingle with them.

    This is why you see most interracial marriages with people of the so called low classes. But in the US, it is with the higher classes.

    1. Not true, Republicans are well known for having and loving money and tend to be in a higher income bracket, but more of them are also the most disgustingly racist people on the planet.

  13. Some Filipinos get mad if you are white and speak Tagalog to them. They pointedly reply in English. But then, they get mad at a Filipino who speaks English and pointedly reply in Tagalog.
    But it’s OK for Filipinos to speak Italian and Arabic and what not.

  14. I still see Filipino shows using black face make up on light skinned actors instead of hiring dark skinned actors. Local parades often have colorful kids in customary costumes but also paint their skin black, so totally racist.

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