Since I look Chinese, it is inevitable for people to assume that I’m Taiwanese. That’s why they are always surprised to discover that I’m Filipino.
The funny thing is, the moment I tell that I come from the Philippines, they almost always say, “Really?! But you don’t look Filipino!”
At this, I would explain, “My parents are Chinese. I have 100% Chinese blood, but I was born and raised in the Philippines.“
To this, they always nod their head and in say, “Aaaaah,” in unison as if they finally got it.
Frankly, I don’t really think they do. But it’s the polite way to do it.
Most Taiwanese think I’m either from Hongkong, or from California. It’s a common misconception. They think I’m Cantonese by the way I speak Chinese, or from California because I speak English without an accent.
Many would be dubious that I’m Filipino.
Most of them would exclaim, “But you don’t have an accent!“
I would then launch into a lengthy explanation that Filipinos are bilingual and can actually speak good English. We use English as a medium of communication and in school, we read, write and speak English all the time.
Some would give up, but others would repeat again, “But you don’t have an accent!”
A lot of people abroad have different misconceptions about Filipinos. It doesn’t help that most Filipinos in Taiwan work as domestic helpers. Filipinos back home are proud of “OFWs” because they believe that they’re helping the country by bringing back the dollars.
They cannot really comprehend how much crap Pinoys abroad have to take. Overseas, Filipinos aren’t really respected as they should. In reality, you are still your job. If you’re a president of a company, people would immediately respect you. But if you work as a janitor (or to be politically-correct, a sanitary engineer), a nanny, or a cook, you can’t really command respect.
Even if you graduated from college, or have a nursing degree, if you’re cleaning toilets or changing diapers, those things don’t really mean a lot here. It’s a hard world out there. Because of your menial job, people assume that you are uneducated. That’s why, a lot of people think that Filipinos are uneducated and cannot speak good English. Unfortunately, you are your job.
Hence, the surprise.
I guess, that’s our responsibility as Filipinos living abroad to prove otherwise. Everyday, we represent our country, and it’s our obligation to correct certain negative stereotypes about our countrymen.
For example, since I have loads of Japanese friends, they used to assume that most Filipinos are dumb and can only sing and dance. You can’t really fault them because there’s a lot of OFWs in Japan who work as nannies or as dancers in the club.
Shameful, but sometimes, I cannot help but feel embarrassed. This is different from the Japanese or the Americans who are constantly proud of their country, sometimes, to the point of arrogance.
But after a while, you help correct some misconceptions by your daily interactions with them. I don’t think my friends think that Filipinos can only work as entertainers or domestic helpers anymore. At the very least, they are less ignorant. In fact, some of them have expressed interest in visiting the country I have raved most about.
We have a lot to be proud of. Our beaches (notwithstanding Boracay) are beautiful. It’s really a great place to go scuba diving. Plus, our people are warm and friendly — one of the sincerest races in the world. Trust me, I’ve been to a couple of places, and the Filipinos are one of the friendliest races there is.
Of course, there are other factors to consider, such as our corrupt government, high rate of crime and kidnapping, public safety, but so long as I give them my guarantee of their safety, it’s no problem.
Gosh, they should really clean up our government!