On Exclusivity, Discrimination And The Divisive Nature Of Pinoy Culture


“They’re not like you, why do you still hang out with them?”

This was a question directed at me by a vendor near the entrance of our school when I was hanging out with the “special needs” students who wanted to talk to me about aliens and UFOs. These “special needs” students were deaf-mutes and, while they could only communicate through sign language and writing, I enjoyed their company and their enthusiasm for various hobbies. At the time, I was just another high-school student (and a really lazy one at that) and I just smiled at the vendor lady who sold corn and cheese in a cup and told her I didn’t at all mind the fact that communicating with my new friends was somewhat challenging because what mattered to me was their company and friendship. However, only later would I understand the full implication of corny cheese/cheesy corn vendor’s question.

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“But they’re not one of us…”

This deplorable statement is something I all too often hear not just in dumb local programs but in real life societies as well. Granted, Pinoys aren’t the only people in the world who like to discriminate but I was hoping that for a society that claims to be “globalized” we should be more tolerant and accepting of people who might be in some way different to us. I mean aren’t we all human beings, after all?

Sure, we seem accepting of foreigners and the like but usually only if they look good, are rich or have a lot of good things to say about the Philippines. However, we are quick to condemn foreigners for criticizing the more negative aspects of our society and treat them like children of the devil. What’s worse is that we like to maltreat our fellow Filipinos who are either less fortunate than us or don’t quite fit our standards of beauty.

The incident I described above is not the first time I encountered this kind of behavior among our countrymen, mind you. I saw it when I was in college and how many students tended to look down on our janitorial staff at the time. I saw it in the way wealthier people speak in a condescending and annoyed tone to waiters and waitresses in fast-food outlets when their orders aren’t served quickly enough. What’s even more sad is that I also hear a lot of equally negative talk from some poor people who regard the rich as corrupt enemies who they come to believe to be responsible for their own poverty. Yes, that’s right, apparently there are people out there who actually believe in the poor=good and rich=evil dichotomy that is often found in many typical Pinoy teleseryes.

I don’t know if it’s the result of the often misleading ideas and concepts put forth by our local shows or if it is in fact inherent in the very culture of our country. Almost always, even in the smallest sectors of our society, there are always those who seek to divide ourselves even further.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think I’ve mentioned before that I belong to an international gaming community. A short list of our members include, but is not limited to: A German working student, a friendly but bored American housewife, a Dutch supermarket cashier, an American company supervisor who loves X-Men, a Hong Kong company supervisor who’s eagerly awaiting the release of the latest Berserk anime, a Brazilian fitness trainer and aerobics instructor, a Japanese marine biologist, an African-American marine who seems to obsessed with the anime K-On, a female American soldier with supernatural experiences, a Jamaican hotel manager who’s afraid of ghosts, a Trinidadian dentist who worries too much, a Russian engineering student with a grim sense of humor, a Canadian maintenance man and conspiracy theorist, a Singaporean who utterly detests durians, a Texan deputy who doesn’t like being stereotyped as trigger-happy, an Israeli chef who’s fascinated by Filipino food, an Egyptian banker with a thing for cats, a Mexican short-order cook who specializes in spicy food, a Canadian military veteran who looks after his pesky grandchildren, a Scottish principal and of course, let’s not forget, a certain perverted Filipino internet troll. And these are just the most prominent members of my community and doesn’t even include the regulars who show up each day to run quests and blow off steam and stress but don’t talk much to be very memorable. While we may all be different from one another, it goes without saying that we enjoy one another’s company as we adventure together on various MMORPG worlds. Our respective backgrounds have little to no bearing on how much we have fun and, while we may have heated discussions from time to time and we may need to kick out the occasional bigoted or mean-spirited member, some of us go as far as to calling ourselves a “family”.

In our society, where we’re “from” often has more significance than where we’re headed or what we can do. At the end of the day, we prefer measuring people by the outdated and often biased standards rather than their capabilities and what they can contribute to society as a whole. At the end, we forget the simple fact that we are all equals as human beings and that it is all too often we ourselves are the cause of so much fear, suspicion and hate between one another.

If we want genuine change in our country, I think it’s high time we learned to both respect and accept one another as brothers and sisters in our beloved country for are we not all sons and daughters of the Philippines. Unless we can abandon our clannish ways and learn to be more tolerant of people who may not enjoy the same way of life we have, then our doom is assured as we will never be able to unite as a nation and overcome the challenges of the modern world together. I hope to one day see all Filipinos, regardless if they came from Ateneo de Manila, St. Louis University, University of Santo Tomas, UP Baguio, UP Diliman, Columban College Barretto, Metrosubic Colleges Inc., Sacred Heart Elementary School, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Shibusen, Schola Progenium of the Imperium of Man and no matter if they work in the PNP, the AFP, various government institutions, large companies or corporations, office buildings, supermarkets, traditional markets, gyms, fast-food outlets, sanitary engineering, sewer treatment plants and gay bars will have equal voice in our society. Let us move on ladies and gentlemen, not as individuals, clans and factions, but as a unified country for all Filipinos!


22 Replies to “On Exclusivity, Discrimination And The Divisive Nature Of Pinoy Culture”

  1. Only the belief and strict practice of the moral imperative of not doing unto others what we do not want others do it on us can the exclusivity, discrimination and divisive of pinoy culture be prevented or removed.

    The Roman Catholic Church heirarchy is proud that this country is the only Roman Catholic Christian country in Asia but how many percent of the 80 plus percent Roman Catholics of the over hundred million Filipinos practice the moral imperative called the Golden Rule as preached by Jesus of Nazareth more 2,000 years ago ?

    1. Yet I’ve seen more Buddhist monks act the “Christian way” compared to loud and proud Bible thumpers. Catholics really need to re evaluate themselves and prioritize more than just the image.

      1. “I’ve seen more Buddhist monks act the “Christian way” compared to loud and proud Bible thumpers.”

        You took the words right out of my mouth, Serge. And not just “Catholic really need to re-evaluate themselves and prioritize more than just the image,” but Failipino Catholics at that, who practice “Monkey See Monkey Do” with their faith and still manage to fuck up their country and each other with hypocrisy.

  2. I have similar experiences… experiences that prove so endemic that I can vouch that they really happen on a regular basis.

    There was one time when I had to be with other kids (in school or church, I think) where all the different “classes” would mix. During one of those times we were doing a group activity and I was in “fine form”. I was making jokes and getting laughs until one of the grown-ups noticed and asked someone beside him “Kaninong anak ‘yan?”

    Now, my grandfathers were a tenant farmer and a barber and both my parents grew up not being one one of the “elite” but they both realised the power of teaching their kids English. Because it was our first language (yes, we learned English before Tagalog in the Philippines) we became rather good at it, my brothers and I. Not perfect, mind you, but enough to fool the typical observer to think 1) we were from America, 2) we were rich, or 3) both.

    It did not change the fact that my father was still making a fraction of what these other kids’ fathers were making.

    So when this helpful grown-up asked whose son I was, the truth eventually came out.

    The change was astounding. My erstwhile “friends” who laughed at my jokes and eagerly discussed shows we all liked suddenly felt embarrassed. Like they were caught being fooled by someone. By me.

    For the rest of the session, they insisted only in speaking to me in Tagalog. Not just any Tagalog, but the sort of Tagalog one uses on the yaya or the driver. I would respond in English: it doesn’t matter—they would talk in Tagalog down at me. Each time I spoke in English, the other grown-ups who would smile and not approvingly before are now shaking their heads, whispering and making that lip-point thing at me (a gesture that still infuriates me; especially when Pinoys go about as if they are proud they use their lips to point with). All because they found out who my father was not.

    Really put me in my place. Later, a bunch of them continued the conversation I started, all laughing in another corner while I had to stay with the other “Filipinos”.

    Decades later, I was working for a non-profit organisation that was mostly Pinoys and a lot of foreigners. I remember one poignant moment when an Englishman tried to eat at our table and get our conversation… and all the other Pinoys muttering under their breaths in Tagalog how annoying that this “dayuhan” is spoiling their “kwentuhan”.

    Over the next few days, the dejected Englishman would sit alone to eat his lunch. The few times I tried to leave the table to join him, my fellow Pinoys would berate me and say “Bayaan mo siya! Weird ‘yan! Dito ka na lang!”

    These same Pinoys, when no other “dayuhan” is within earshot, would speak coño and brag, to the others, how we “eat with the international community”.

    Some years later, I would be playing World of WarCraft. I found, to my chagrin, that some of the most elitist and griefing guilds in our realm were founded by and peopled mostly by Pinoys. Needless to say, I joined a guild with no Pinoys.

    The cultural cringe is very strong.

  3. Grimwald, I love this article. You did do something that I really hate. I have noticed that many people in Asia and this country feel the need to say African American, Texan, and other stereotypes. I have been waiting for the day when people start saying European American. The problem is that in the process of using that in your description, you are doing the same thing that you do not like. The only native American is Native American Indians. If you want everyone to play together then maybe its time that we all treat everyone with the same labels. Try starting with America or here in the Philippines. This thing of using provinces to describe what people are needs to go away. Everyone is either Pinoy or not. In America every is either a American or not.

    1. I thought you were going to complain about K-On!

      When I compare Berserk to K-On!, both the marine and the CEO roll their eyes and say that I’m a very disturbed person for calling them both “cute”…

  4. Your last paragraph is so naive. Wishful thinking, at best. You’d think a third-grader wrote it. That’s not gonna happen. Not in progressive first world countries and certainly (most especially) not here. Inequality and unfairness are part of the equation. You can appeal to that, like what you’ve just did, but don’t hold your breath.

    1. I’m well aware of that but do we (Filipinos) really need to build walls between one another even when cooperation could do a lot of good for us as a whole?

      1. I did not say I don’t agree with you. But preaching about something can only go so far. It’s “world peace”-like; like a generic beauty pageant answer with no real conviction to make such claim/appeal believable enough. But that’s just me.

  5. Nice article, Mr. Grimwald…thank you…Biased and Prejudicial mindsets come from family upbringing of a child. If a child is born rich, with servants;most probably, she/he will be biased against those who serve people, for a living.

    In some White families; some white parents, especially those white supremacist, will teach their children, that colored people are less of a people.

    The same way, that some people, look upon the disabled people. Some look at them, as less of a people.

    People are people, no matter who they are. They are just people, with some sort of differences. However, they are people, like you and me. Existing in this world, with a God given purpose. It is our humanity that matters; and our being humane.

  6. That’s the problem of parochialism as someoneone coined, and what I talked about in my earlier article What Problem with Filipino Identity. Filipinos are actually so wrapped up in their own little groups, a la Nick Joaquin’s Heritage of Smallness, that they don’t have concern for the greater part of society, or public space. Basically, don’t care about people you don’t know.

    Also, don’t be surprised, we are not a culture that treats peopel with disabilities with respect. That is yet another place where we are sorely lacking.

  7. ….. and the LGBT community thinks their rights are trampled upon…..

    Nothing against LGBTs but we are all discriminated one way or another….

    Just saying.

  8. Writing as a foreigner,I believe that prejudice is commonplace in all societies,whether on grounds of race/colour,religion,gender,age,disability or whatever.I admit I have them.To me,the mark of a civil society is the extent that we allow our prejudices to affect our behaviour.

    Google Stephen Hawking.How far would this man have got in Philippine society? Dare I suggest that he has added far more to human knowledge than the Ateneo Faculty 400?

  9. It’s the aristocratic mentality of our people of seeing themselves as more than what they really are: a primitive-thinking, tribal people that have been westernized.

    1. Westernized ??? That’s hilarious! Filipinos inability to take any type of criticism,your ” victim mentality”, proud to a fault arrogance,shit eating grins that are plastered all over your faces,even when a guy gets cut in half by a train,lack of building and zoning codes,complete disregard for your environment,corruption and laziness at every level…yup westernized!!! You must think just because you have a bunch of electronic gadgets strapped to your hip,and thousands of automobiles choking your streets you are westernized….I’m sure if you looked closely,although you may not want to admit it,your culture has been greatly influenced by Islam,and that is about as far away from being westernized as you can get !!

      1. Bitch…ahem!…excuse me BIFFA bacon,

        Everything you’ve said is exactly what I meant by being ‘westernized.’ All you have to do is ask me first why I said it before you start rambling on what you think I meant.


  10. People that have trust issues only need to look in the mirror. There they will meet the one person that will betray them the most.

    1. The problem with our Failipino culture is it never taught the people to work through and overcome their “trust issues,” and ‘distrust’ has been the norm of our society since day one.

  11. “I have noticed that many people in Asia and this country feel the need to say African American, Texan, and other stereotypes.”

    Never knew these terms were stereotypes. What’s next…Asian-Americans?

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