perla's pinay blog
DO FILIPINA STEREOTYPES HAVE POWER OVER YOU?
are you ashamed to be a filipina? you’ve been disempowered then. so take back your power, already!
i am glad to know that there are many, many filipinos who are proud of being who they are. there is a little thrill within me when i see this in the mother land (inang bayan) and abroad. filipino newspapers abroad, filipino cultural celebrations abroad… the rise of the filipino indigenous spirituality movement, the “search for the filipino identity”, the pride in reclaiming indigenous culture… the decolonization discussions and awareness… after almost 20 years of using the internet i have witnessed more and more filipino discussion groups and web sites. these cyber efforts show filipino pride and effort that bring filipino-dom to new heights. but there are pockets of shame in being filipino…
a young woman from university of santo thomas, manila (lets call her MK for MagandangKalooban) emailed me around 2003 at newfilipina.com to talk about pride in being a filipino as opposed to shame and hate in being filipino. she had encountered another filipina on the internet, lets call her Nahihiya, in a message board. sadly, Nahihiya was articulating her shame of stereotypes of filipinos abroad and how she now hated being a filipina because of them. MK, still proud of being a Filipina, wrote me for help on what she could say to Nahihiya.
The following is my 2003 email response to MagandangKalooban about Filipina stereotypes:
This filipina needs some new insight on being filipino and the power of stereotypes!
this obviously intelligent and articulate young filipina is not the only one i have heard of who feels like this. i have encountered other filipinos who bewail and complain about the so-called problems of the philippines and the reputations filipino women and men have abroad. and who thus are ashamed of being filipino. when they are abroad they even go so far as to deny being a filipino and attempt to claim a new nationality. i have heard filipinos shun the identity of filipino or filipino-canadian or filipino-american—they now prefer to be canadian or american. this is self-hate due to others’ perceptions of philippine problems.
stereotypes of who-others-are and who-you-are-not are illusions of the material world that can cause a loss of personal power in you—-if you let them! if you are one of those people who have succumbed to self-hate and self-doubt because of stereotypes then you now need to understand what acting out like this means. it means that you have given power to something that has only touched your life via words and thoughts… you have surrendered a sense of your self, you have given a piece of your soul away— to a lie, a stereotype!
there are so many stereotypes— they apply to gender, age, nationalities, religions, ethnicity, body size and more. stereotypes can influence people. stereotypes divide people, they foster fear and suspicion. they create resentment, hate and anger. stereotypes can be pretty powerful. but don’t succumb to their power! don’t give your dignity and your self-respect over to stereotypes, to people who stereotype you and your fellows, to people you don’t even know and to people who don’t even know you.
have you ever considered that stereotypes are like generalized theories and are not physical or spiritual laws? they are concepts that need to be proven. if they turned out to be true for everyone of a certain group then they would be like laws of physics— but they never will be true for all, and only applicable to limited numbers within a group of people. so don’t let something that is pretty much just a theory (come about by those with limited minds and limited experience) have power and control over you. and don’t fail to realize that when you meet people with stereotypes/theories that might be about you, then you yourself have the power to debunk their narrow beliefs by showing them the best part of yourself, the best part of who filipinas and filipinos are!
take your power back from outside forces and call upon your inner strength, your inner warrior to fight off these “forces.”
i say to those who have disempowered themselves this way, “snap out of it! get over it! take back your power and shout out to the phantoms “i don’t believe you! you have no control over me.”
there is a warrior self in every one of us that you too can call upon to help you challenge the stereotypes that have control over you. this warrior spirit is a universal symbol found in every ancient culture of every nation of the world. the ancient archetype of the warrior has been preserved within medieval christian allegory in the characters of pilgrim, knight and soldier. the spirit of the warrior has been preserved in our own myths of the philippines and has risen many times in our history.
the warrior spirit within you is there not to make you fight just for the sake of fighting or for venting anger without cause, but rather to be called upon for the strength and courage it takes for you to stand centered in who you are. this warrior spirit enables you to be strong enough to hold yourself against forces working against who you are, it helps you find the pride, the boldness to challenge such forces. it helps you triumph against such forces and leads you to revel in who you are.
self-hate and self-doubt that stem from allowing so-called bad reputations and inaccurate stereotypes are like shadows that you have allowed to scare you and become very real phantoms in your life. you have allowed a false collective myth to have control over you. you have made an unconscious choice to let something that is not true about you to become significant and true for you.
let your warrior spirit step forward and make a conscious choice to take the pieces of your soul back and allow yourself a wholeness of self again.
if you have a practice of prayer and meditation then seek guidance and help in finding the warrior’s courage and strength within yourself. if you are catholic or christian, then sing the song “onward christian soldier. if you practice yoga asanas, try standing in virabhadrasana 1, 2 or 3 and work at breathing through ridding yourself of your fears that are stuck in your mind and body.
if you want to call upon your filipino ancestors then ask them for courage so that your warrior archetype within yourself can battle your inner demons— those demons that whisper words that fill with you with doubt and insecurities, that make you weak and lead you away from your potential.
don’t let stereotypes have power over you. don’t let them make you small by believing them and making them apply to you. don’t let them control you into thinking the wrong things about other people either. conquer them with the energy of your own life.
updated article. original email written in april 2003 and posted at newfilipina.com.
find more posts at: http://blog.newfilipina.com/
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I recently came across a racist, stereotypical image of an Asian woman for a food vendor-type establishment in Austin called “ME SO HUNGRY”. SO imagine that… an Asian woman with her finger in her slightly parted mouth, and the words “ME SO HUNGRY” hovering over her. Sadly, Asian women are largely grouped into one category with no respect to cultural differences, experiences, histories, etc. When I see an image like that, I feel hurt. I feel angry. I see an image of Pinays when I see this generalized Asian image; and I know that others (white people and Asian/Asian-American folks included) will accept this, will overlook it, will not see anything wrong with it. It is hard to speak up against this when others feel that it is OK, that I am being too sensitive. But I won’t stop speaking out against this, and other images like this, because it is very personal. I would rather be sensitive to this issue than shrug it off. Ignoring it can only do more harm