Kunwari Kontrobersyal

Bago ang lahat, disclaimer muna: Kung may mabasa kayo dito na hindi kayo nag-aagree, ok lang na sabihin n’yong mali ako. Pero walang murahan ‘ah. Iyakin ako ‘eh.

Actually, naisip ko lang naman ‘to kasi nagkaroon kami ng munting debate kanina ng ka-opisina ko tungkol sa isang term. Hindi na namin natapos ang usapan dahil after a while pareho na kaming tumahimik, marahil dahil na-realize naming wala nang patutunguhan ang pag-uusap namin at mabuti pa ‘eh magtrabaho na lang kami. Pero ito kasi ‘yung nangyari…

Sabi ng isa kong ka-opisina, para sa Christmas party ng kumpanya, mag-costume daw kami ng “Indian”. Specifically, ang example niya ay si Pocahontas. At dahil know-it-all ako, sinabi ko na hindi dapat tawaging Indian si Pocahontas, dahil hindi naman siya taga-India, at Native American dapat ang tawag sa kanya dahil ito ang “politcally correct” term. Pero sabi ng officemate ko, mula pa mga bata kami ‘eh Indian na ang tawag sa indigenous peoples of the Americas* kaya ok lang daw na tawagin silang Indians. I didn’t agree at the time, and so we both shut up.

*O, nabasa ko lang sa Wikipedia ‘yan.

Anyway I did some research and found out that actually, the people in question, don’t like either term. Because “Indian” has a derogatory connotation, but “Native American” seems like something assigned to them by the “white” government. So they actually would prefer to be called by their nation/tribe name (which I assume they gave themselves), e.g. Cherokee, Navajo, etc. But then, that just makes things more complicated, doesn’t it? I mean, how are you supposed to know what tribe a person comes from?

Anyway, hindi naman talaga tungkol diyan ito. Pero dahil diyan kaya napa-isip tuloy ako tungkol sa discrimination and political correctness, or even politeness/impoliteness. I know, so broad naman the topic! So maybe ‘pag sipagin ako ‘eh gagawa ako ng part 2 and stuff, but as of now, ito muna:

I don’t want to say that it’s because of my college education and that’s why I think this way. But I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t. You see, my undergrad degree is International Studies. (Pang-mayaman na course daw, sabi ng tito ko — yet another somewhat judgemental comment.) In studying it, emphasis is placed on thinking of things on an international (kung posible lang ‘eh universal pa nga) scale.

Example: Tungkol sa ‘bayanihan’ nung Ondoy.

Of course I’m proud that Filipinos helped each other out, pero ‘pag sinabi ko kasing “Mababait talaga ang mga Pinoy,” parang feeling ko sinasabi kong hindi mabait ang mga tao ng ibang bansa. But as we all know, mababait rin naman sila, diba ang dami ngang nagpadala ng donations, etc.?

Sorry na kung malabo ang explanation. But anyway, that’s the reason why I’m so particular about using politically correct terms and so careful about not offending anyone and all that (and not just when it comes to races, but also gender, “social status”, etc.). Kung kilala n’yo ko personally, you’ll know that I always do the “air quote hand gesture” when I’m speaking (and use quotation marks when I’m writing), and this is the reason. Because I think that when you’re talking about people, everything’s relative. Walang exact definitions. Walang irrefutable answers. Lahat depende sa context. Kaya sa totoo lang, nahihirapan na’ko kaka-conform sa ganitong philosophy — ‘yung dapat hindi ka nakaka-offend ng certain ethnic group or subculture or kung ano pa. Hindi mo pwedeng sabihing lahat ng mahilig magsuot ng black ay emo, dahil hindi mo rin gugustuhing matawag kang matapobre just because minsan mong sinabing “I want to make tusok tusok the fishballs.

Nasabihan na’kong “You can’t please everyone”, at naniniwala akong totoo ‘yan. (Pero ayoko rin ‘yan sabihin palagi kasi marami akong nariringgan na ginagawa ‘yang excuse para sa masama nilang ugali.) Pero despite that truth, I still want to be as least offensive as I can. Maski mabaliw-baliw na’ko sa kaka-isip kung ano ba ang tamang term. I figure, it’s just being polite. And who doesn’t want politeness in a person? So far, ‘yung kasabihang “If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything.” has worked well for me. Pero minsan, nakaka-frustrate na talaga at kailangang ilabas ang saloobin. Hence, this post.

(GRABE. Ang haba ng intro ko. Inabot ako ng isang oras, explanation pa lang kung bakit ko ito sinusulat.)

I think that, the most offensive/insensitive comments are those that weren’t meant to be offensive, and are actually sometimes part of everyday conversations. Maybe I’m too prissy for noticing these things, but I do believe that little bad things eventually become big things,  and nobody likes big bad things. So for now, I’ll be enumerating the “small” everyday things na ‘pag naririnig ko ‘eh parang gusto kong mang-sermon (but of course I don’t because I’m a scaredy cat, so dito na lang sa blog).

1. “Para tayong nasa ibang bansa!”

Madalas ko ‘to naririnig kapag nagtra-travel sa tourist site sa Pilipinas. ‘Pag maganda ang view, or malinis ang paligid, or “high class” ang resort, may nagsasabi nito palagi. And honestly, I feel really sad when I hear this. I mean, hindi ba nakakalungkot that the common thought is that other countries are beautiful, while our own is not? Kaya kapag may lugar na maganda, parang hindi makapaniwalang nasa Pilipinas pa rin sila. I’m not saying other countries are ugly, but why say that a beautiful sight is “like another country”? Why not just praise the Philippines for its own beauty?

I mean, I know a lot of places in the Philippines are really bad-looking (and when I say bad-looking, I mostly mean polluted). But I think we should acknowledge that a lot of parts of the country is really just as beautiful as any other tropical paradise.

2. “Maganda/Gwapo siya! Maputi kasi!”

So my friend said that what’s scarce in a certain place is always considered more beautiful, e.g. In the U.S., it’s cooler when your skin is tan, because most of the population are fair-skinned. So it follows that in a place like the Philippnes, where brown is the prevalent skin color, those with fair skin are the ones who are considered ‘beautiful’. It’s all to do with the “You always want what you can’t have” theory. Which I guess is why there are so many skin whitening products sold here.

Anyway, I was a bit surprised when I heard an officemate say to another officemate, “Kahit anong sabihin mo, mas-maputi pa rin ako sa’yo!” as if having lighter skin made her a better person. I was surprised because I thought that people who went to school, graduated from college and all that, are supposed to know better than that.

One could argue that that person may have just been joking, and the person she was talking to probably wasn’t offended, but the fact of the matter is that her skin color was something she used as a leverage in an argument. And it’s not just her whom I heard this from anyway. I’ve heard this kind of reasoning from lots of people. I am ashamed to admit that one of my nieces (and I don’t want to say that it’s okay for her to say it because she’s just a kid. The things we’re taught when we’re kids molds our personality forever) actually said, referring to one of her classmates, “Panget siya kasi maitim siya.

I must admit this is very personal to me because I’m not fair-skinned, and I’ve been teased about it all my life. Even now. And maybe I should let the issue go, because I’m not a kid anymore, but I just really think that there’s something wrong with equating a certain skin color to being beautiful, or being a better person.

Of course, this problem is the least likely to go away. I mean, it’s not like it’s only in the Philippines where skin color is an issue. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t change our outlooks either.

3. “Mayaman naman sila ‘eh.”

Right. Of course money is involved. But for this one, I want to tell you about this house that caught fire. It was a house of a “rich” family. Anyway, it was near a friend’s house so people asked if that friend was okay. I told them that she was fine, but that the house that burned was a mess. Nothing was left except for the cement framing, and it looked like they would have the rebuild the entire thing instead of just make repairs.

I was shocked when one of my friends said, “Ok lang ‘yun, mayaman naman sila ‘eh, kaya nilang ipagawa ‘yun agad.”

So yeah, maybe the situation would’ve been more depressing if what was destroyed was a house of a family that barely makes ends meet, but I don’t think that means that a rich man’s house burning is nothing to be worried about.

So there’s only 3 now, but there’s really about a dozen more in my head. I’m just too tired now to think of the words, and this entry is already way too long. But I think that maybe I will make a Part II of this. If only to be able to rant more about you know, everything. Haha.

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