Whenever I and one particular friend of mine meet, the discussion inevitably drifts to show business, local or foreign. Though I do not follow it obsessively like she does, I guess the silver lining in it is that it rounds out whatever other types of news and developments that I follow. Besides, show business and pop culture, as I’ve come to (begrudgingly) admit over the years, provide great insight into the underbelly and cultural disposition of the society it refers to.
Recently, our topic shifted to Bianca Gonzalez-Intal. Recall Get Real Philippines highlighted her a few years ago for her tweet about informal settlers. Now it seems she caught some degree of attention recently for how she responded to commentators on her social media accounts. On certain Instagram pictures of her daughter, Lucia, a few comments were left which put emphasis, rather disparagingly, on her daughter’s skin color.
(Translation: Dark-skinned! Hahaha we’re talking about how ugly and dark-skinned the baby is, even that early. If she gets prettier, it’s thanks to science! Hahaha, crazy lying fans.)
Bianca, however, was not hesitant to give the commentator a piece of her mind.
(Translation: Yes, she is dark-skinned, Filipina and proud like her momma! Got a problem with that?)
There was more than one, though this one seemingly had no intention to offend:
(Translation: She’s still a baby so a lot can still change.
Change? I have no intention of making our daughter’s skin fairer if she grows up to be brown-skinned. Why do people think that that is an insult to me? It’s a compliment. It’s the color of Filipino skin.
I said nothing malicious. I just thought that some babies change skin color as they grow up. I am not fair-skinned either. I have no intention (to offend), sorry.)
On Twitter, Bianca also got some unfavorable tweets, like the one below. How she responded speaks once again of a class act:
@NOTredge South Africa, negra, and slave in one statement. I don’t know how to begin, how wrong this is on so many levels. I’m sad for you.
— Bianca Gonzalez (@iamsuperbianca) April 27, 2016
(Translation of Filipino portion: Philippines? More like South Africa because you’re dark-skinned. Hahahaha your beauty level is more of a slave’s. Hahahahaha.)
It is probably worth mentioning that Mrs. Intal is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, an institution that, despite its recent collective brain farts on alleged historical revisionism by the Marcoses and “bobotantes” (stupid voters), generally produces graduates who are well-mannered, are eloquent speakers, and have some semblance of substance between their ears. Yes, I know there are exceptions; while she may fit that mold, another alumnus, outgoing president Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III does not. But I digress…
Mrs. Intal’s celebrity status seemingly defies a few apparent unwritten “conventions” to become successful in TV and show business here in the Philippines:
a) One must have fair skin;
b) One must have an exotic, foreign-sounding name, and;
b) One must act like a ditz.
Through this episode, Bianca reminds Filipinos to be comfortable in their own skin. Just because someone is not white or fair-skinned doesn’t mean that he/she can’t be considered beautiful.
Something, however, that both Filipino society and big business actively push and preach the opposite of. Skin whitening is lucrative here in the Philippines and other parts of Asia. All these ads about whitening products serve to make the Filipino more insecure about himself/herself than he/she already is. Aggravating this insecurity is that Filipino society places a premium on outward image and face. Plus, Caucasian and mestizo-looking people are placed on pedestals here in the Philippines, usually at the expense of Filipinos’ own moreno/morena countrymen. Skin color is a determinant of social class and social status.
What will it take to get Filipinos to stop being shallow, and look beyond skin-deep?[Image courtesy: Pep.ph and Inquirer.net]
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