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Tag Archive | "Pinoy pride"

FF Podcast 023: Is the Filipino Spirit Waterproof?

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This week, we talk about inspirational Filipino memes during times of crisis and the response of Filipinos to tragedies.

This was recorded on November 16, 2013 as part of our live all-day webshow to raise funds for Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) relief.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Society, VideoComments (0)

FF Podcast 011: Pinoy Racism and LGBT Rights

Margie, Red and Pepe host Filipino Freethinkers Podcast Episode 11
Margie, Red, and Pepe are back for episode 11 of the Filipino Freethinkers Podcast. This week, we talk about racism in Filipino culture. Then we take a closer look at the claim that LGBT rights “trample” on the rights of religious people.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes


Posted in Gender Rights, Podcast, Politics, Secularism, Society, VideoComments (0)

On “What’s Your Mix?” (And Why It’s Much Ado About Nothing)

Originally posted on

Does this offend you? Unless you’re a mathematician, probably not.

Yeah, I still don’t understand the mathematics involved that results in a lady with 80/20 blood lineage, but who am I to question the mathematical process involved in determining these things?

I touched on this briefly in my blog the other day, and while I was quick to join poking fun at the whole thing, I certainly didn’t feel outraged by the ad, to say the least. Having worked in advertising in some capacity or other for so many years, I tend to feel for the guys who made this campaign, because clearly, they had the best of intentions when they made this (Not that intent is ever an excuse for anything.). This was probably 90% inspiration and 10% perspiration, and that’s why we arrived at this copy…

Hmm. Needs a little more Godwin…

There were unfortunate implications there, but the intent is clearly the reverse of what the knee-jerk slacktivists are trying to say: more than Pinoys needing a mix of foreign blood to be a success, the copy of the ad implies that foreigners need a mix of Pinoy blood to be a success. It seems like people were 90% furious, and 10% reading when they decided to get worked up over this.

Semantics aside, I’m sure the copy writers for this campaign didn’t intend to channel Voldemort and notions of a brown Aryan race when they made this. Clearly, the campaign is simply about mix. Fil-Am rappers do this all the time when they talk about the intertwining of cultures, and how they have to deal with it every single day.

50% milk, 50% coco puff?

Despite all that, whether they meant to say that success is brought about by having a mix of foreign blood, or by having a mix of Filipino blood, it definitely sends the wrong message and yet again reeks of the kind of Filipino Patriot® I frequently poke fun at: the Pinoy equivalent of the redneck American whose only counter-argument to every single thing wrong about their country is, “If you hate it so much, then why don’t you just leave?”

While one can be proud of one’s heritage, one’s heritage in and by itself is not a cause for pride. The achievements of every Filipino, great or small, in no way reflects upon our own achievements. The beauty of it is, it works the same way with every Filipino’s failures. We make our own luck. What a fascinating concept!

Is it something to get all worked up over, though? No, I honestly don’t think so. I’m just 50% amused, and 50% meh when it comes to the whole “issue,” because outside of bad copy writing, this isn’t nor should it be a national pride issue. At all.

Look. I know it’s very delectable to pretend that Bayo was trying to undermine Filipino pride by insinuating that we need to have foreign blood to be worth anything, but not only is that a very uncharitable reading of the issue at hand, it’s also missing the forest for the trees: having Filipino blood shouldn’t give us a free pass to success, nor should having foreign blood. It really boils down to what we do as Filipinos that define our ability to succeed, far more than our ethnic heritage.

This is much ado about nothing. There is no need to crucify Bayo as though they are upholding colonial mentality when they are clearly (and unfortunately) trying to imply the reverse: a kind of brown Aryan bloodline that guarantees nothing but prosperity to anyone who is lucky enough to have Filipino blood in them. In fact, the campaign talks about “mix,” but at no point does it attempt to say that anything “pure” has less merit.

If anything, I can imagine a far worse backlash if they tried to so much as put primacy in someone being a “pure” Filipino. It goes against the concept of their ad campaign, but that’s what you get when you try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Clearly, fashion mix and ethnic mix don’t mix with each other well. The “palahian” uproar from the feminist sector should make that immensely clear.

When you have random xenophobic Filipinos hating Solenn Heussaff or Jinri Park or Grace Lee for daring to identify themselves as being Filipino, you kind of feel a wee bit weirded out by the double standard when we take every chance to remind South Korea that Sandara Park of 2NE1 used to be a TV and movie star in the Philippines, and the sheer amount of sourgraping this nation engages in every time the Azkals lose a game. Our standards of calling someone “one of us” are just so arbitrary it makes my head spin sometimes. It’s 50% funny and 50% pathetic.

Sometimes, you could almost imagine Erik Spoelstra wondering why all the Filipino support went to Jessica Sanchez in American Idol.

“LeBron, you’re not eating a pretzel, so stop choking, dammit! Pinoy pride!

Besides, if a throwaway ad campaign from a brand is enough to make you call your own Filipino pride into question, then maybe the basis for your pride doesn’t run quite deep enough as your wounded pride (or is it ego?) leads you to believe it does.

Was Bayo’s campaign a good one? 50% yes and 50% no (Okay, this percentage running gag is annoying even me, so I should stop now.). Logistically, it was poorly worded and insensitive to the implications of their poor choice of words. Whether you read it as a gateway brown Aryan statement or as a further affirmation of colonial mentality, it completely undercut the inherently good message of the campaign: it’s good to mix. It’s just that there’s that nagging feeling of, “But what if you don’t mix?” Is it bad? Is it better? Inquiring minds need to know!”

Not addressing that question properly apparently backfired on Bayo, on top of the common but irrefutable complaint about Filipino pride boiling down purely to bloodline rather than actual merits.

On the other hand, we’re talking about Bayo now. A lot. Brand awareness is at an all-time high. Positive or negative as it may be, there is now a dialogue going on about what it means to be Filipino; about why we support the Azkals and Jessica Sanchez but turn our backs on Erik Spoelstra and Rob Schneider.

I can think of a reason why we do, though.

While the conversation starter is admittedly pedestrian in nature, now, we are beginning to understand that this discussion on identity is a very important discussion to have at this point where the world is becoming a global village more and more. For all the good and bad this globalization brings, how does one remain Filipino, and how does one demonstrate and inspire pride in our heritage? These things do not merely happen in and by themselves: the how is a very important factor that needs consideration.

What does it mean to be a Filipino? Is it our bloodline a la Jasmine Trias or Tia Carrere? Or is it more about our desire to identify with being Filipino a la Grace Lee or Erwan Heussaff?

What does it mean to be a success? Is Manny Pacquiao a success in boxing because he’s a Filipino, or is he a success because he worked hard at it, and he just happened to be a Filipino? Does the latter take away from Filipino pride, or simply remind us that we need to look at Filipino pride in a more nuanced and all-encompassing manner?

If only for the fact that now, these questions do get asked, and hopefully, get closer to being answered satisfactorily, then yeah, I think Bayo did good, in spite of itself.

If I may be so bold as to suggest to whoever is running the advertising for Bayo, I think the easiest way to turn this around would be to ride the wave of your campaign’s memetic value. Don’t take the campaign too seriously, and revel in the absurdity of it, while encouraging the insightful dialogue you’ve already unintentionally instigated. The momentum is now in your hands to make something positive out of all this.

If I could paraphrase Lourd De Veyra, this all boils down to one simple thing: walang basagan ng mix. All this navel-gazing taken into consideration, though, I think it’s still boss to poke fun at the whole “controversy.”

Thank you, thank you! I’ll be here all week!

Posted in SocietyComments (5)

Pinoy Pride: Where I’m from, Everyone’s a Racist

Jessica Sanchez recently lost on American Idol, a talent show, ultimately decided by viewer voting. But by the way many Filipinos reacted to the results, you’d think it was a presidential election. Few accepted Jessica’s defeat, many giving Jessica — and themselves — the consolation prize of believing that while Phillip Phillips was the American Idol, Jessica Sanchez was the World Idol. Some went as far as asking for a recount.

But within the range of reactions, I found one particularly interesting. The argument goes that Phillip Phillips only won because he was American — and the White Guy With Guitar always wins — and that if Jessica were American, too, she would win because she obviously had more talent. And wasn’t American Idol above all a contest of talent? Wasn’t it supposed to avoid becoming a contest about race? If so, wouldn’t this count as racism? Ironically, these are the questions many of Jessica’s fans — and those who subscribe to Pinoy Pride — need to ask themselves.

On the face of it, Pinoy Pride — the kind that would champion Jessica Sanchez and Manny Pacquiao and Charice Pempengco because they’re Filipino — is harmless. Being Filipino is just one of the arbitrary traits that people use to pick their favorites, something that makes it easier to identify with and relate to one person, one out of many others who have less to do with them. And it’s not like race (or for that matter, ethnicity) is the only thing that makes a fan a fan. Jessica Sanchez is an awesome singer, and no one can throw a million punches like Manny Pacquiao.

But such sentiments are not what make Pinoy Pride. I’m a fan of Manny Pacquiao’s boxing myself, and so are many of my friends. But when his last match with Marquez went his way even though it looked like a definite defeat, his being Filipino didn’t keep us from thinking that he unfairly got the decision because of his champion status.

So how can we tell whether someone has Pinoy Pride? Two related logical fallacies are dead giveaways: hasty generalization and confirmation bias. When you say that Filipino boxers and singers are unusually talented because there are people like Sanchez and Pacquiao, you are taking an observation of an individual of a group and making a conclusion about everyone from that group. Because Manny Pacquiao is a good boxer, all Filipinos boxers are good. This is hasty generalization.

Such categorical (all or nothing) statements are easy enough to refute because all you have to do is find a single example to disprove the claim. There are many mediocre boxers and singers but these examples are easily forgotten (consciously or unconsciously) or not noticed at all. Only the examples that would prove the preferred claim are remembered. This is called confirmation bias.

Again, Pinoy Pride when applied to sports or talent shows seems harmless on the surface. But if left unexamined and uncorrected, this kind of thinking fosters negative thinking habits: lazy thinking at best, blatant racism at worst. There are many such statements that display Pinoy Pride, but I’ll use one that has bugged me since the first time I saw it: “Where I’m from, Everyone’s a Hero.” To this day I am annoyed at the patent stupidity of the statement, and perplexed that even smart people subscribe to it.

It sounds nice and nationalistic. But is it true? It says that in the Philippines there are only heroes — no villains. Everyone deserves to be emulated and admired. Sure, there are many private individuals, public servants, and even celebrities we can consider heroic. But everyone? Even the murderers, rapists, and murderer-rapists? Even the corrupt public officials who give us the reputation of being the most corrupt country in Asia? Even the Ampatuans who allegedly killed their political rivals and innocent journalists in the Maguindanao massacre?

Again, categorical statements are easy to disprove. But in this case, Everyone’s a Hero is not just inaccurate, it’s a blatant lie. For starters, count the people in the Philippines you truly consider heroic. I’ll assume that your standards are relatively low and that you’re patient enough to count up to 1000. If the Philippines had 100 million people (without an RH law, this will be very soon), heroes count for only 0.001% of the population. So it’s actually more truthful to say that “Where I come from, almost no one is a hero.”

Everyone’s a Hero can only be true if you argue that a hero is someone who is located in the Philippines. Then why don’t we make that our tourism slogan? Everyone wants to be a hero, right? “You’re more heroic in the Philippines.” But kidding aside, this kind of thinking trivializes heroism, disrespecting the legacy of true heroes like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, the Katipunan, and the many modern day heroes who truly deserve the title.

But Pinoy Pride doesn’t just ignore statistics and trivialize heroism. It gets worse. Some people think being Filipino (not just being in the Philippines) is worth being proud of. This makes it easy for them to swallow such statements as Everyone’s a Hero. But in the same way that Pinoy Pride hides contradictory examples — confirmation bias — so too does it hide necessary implications that a person wouldn’t normally make. That is, people who make Pinoy Pride statements only consider their positive implications, completely ignoring their negative ones. (Maybe this can be called implication bias.)

Let’s examine Everyone’s a Hero. When you say that all Filipinos are heroes, you are making a positive statement about Filipinos. But what are you saying about those who are not Filipino? If your answer is, “Well, they’re heroes, too, I guess,” then the statement loses its meaning. If people, whatever country they’re from, are all heroes, why make the statement at all? The statement either has no informational value, or it implies something that you’d rather ignore: “Where you’re not from, not everyone is a hero.”

This could be taken to mean that “only some are heroes” on one end to “there are no heroes” in the other. The point is that when it comes to having heroes, the Philippines is superior. And in the end, this is what Pinoy Pride is about: the inherent superiority of someone for the simple reason that they belong to a particular race or ethnicity. This is nothing new, of course. Almost 80 years ago, this nationalistic way of thinking was fashionable in Germany.

Posted in Personal, SocietyComments (5)

Pinoys Await Results of America’s Next Top Singer Ethnicity Test

Manila, Philippines — After the heartbreaking loss of Jessica Sanchez to another white guy with guitar in American Idol, proud Pinoys are pinning their hopes on one of the two finalists of America’s Next Top Singer (ANTS). But there’s a catch: they don’t know which one.

Both Jasmine Lopez and Evelyn Santos have been claiming in recent interviews to be part Filipino, raising the hopes of millions of Filipinos who watch ANTS on cable and via livestreaming websites.

But critics have accused both finalists of only claiming to be Filipino to get the Pinoy block vote, which has significantly helped the chances of Jessica Sanchez in AI despite her loss.

The controversy led popular online community Definitely Pinoy to conduct its own investigation into the ethnicity of Jasmine and Evelyn. “We need someone to be proud of,” said John dela Cruz, founder of Definitely Pinoy. “But first we have to verify which one of them is . . . definitely Pinoy.”

Jasmine and Evelyn have been subjected to a battery of scientific ancestry and ethnicity tests, giving DNA samples and taking various standardized Cosmo magazine quizzes. We got quick interviews from both finalists before they proceeded to their Karaoke challenge, Balut-eating contest, Tinikling face-off, and other exhaustive tests they’ll go through in the Chicago Center for Racial Profiling.

“I’m proud po to be Pinoy po.” Jasmine said to the applause of her fans. Jasmine was wearing a shirt that said, “Where I’m from, everyone’s a hero.”

Evelyn simply said to her cheering fans, “Mabuhay.” She was wearing a Baro’t Saya made from a Philippine flag.

But Pinoys in the US and at home are still holding back full support until the test results are in. “We know it’s stressful to lack this important information, so we’re doing our best to analyze our findings as fast as possible,” said dela Cruz. “They’re both world-class singers, but we can only call a text voting brigade for one of them.”

We asked him what the millions of Pinoy fans should do if the test results show that neither of them — or both of them — are Filipino. “Wow, I haven’t thought about that possibility,” said dela Cruz. “I guess we’ll just have to vote based on talent.”

Posted in Humor, SocietyComments (1)