I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

BBC hearts Filipinas

I’m not even going to pretend that I understand the context of this clip from the BBC. I’ve no idea what ‘mating the filipina maid with the northener’ means, except that it seems to be a dig at this northener for not being able to get interested in a sexy girl ‘presenting her rear’ (which is zoologist talk for the kind of sexual body language that features giving prominence to the rump). This interpretation – which again is arrived at without the benefit of context – seems to be borne out by the fact that the angry man’s friend seems only too eager to get with the filipina at the end of the clip. Apparently, he was turned on.

SO now the question is, was this clip particularly degrading to Filipinos?

I suppose if you consider the overt sexuality of the french maid stereotype as offensive to French women, this BBC sketch could be offensive.

Ah, but then we don’t worry about portraying the Chinese as drooling and devious cheats in our sitcoms, do we? Good god. Can you imagine what would happen if the Chinese were to suddenly take offense?

And what about portraying Indians as smelly usurers? Or Muslims as traders in ridiculously shitty products (like the wristwatch that’s so water proof that when the water gets in there, it never gets out).

Apparently, our sensitivities run only one way, and our sense of irony is as dead as a doornail. Classic pikon, as they say in the playgrounds. Can’t take as good as we can dish out.

Mesself, I’m seeing another dimension in all this: a victim-mentality. The predisposition to see everything as potentially victimizing us; the belief that we are in a constant struggle to prove our worth, and that the abuses visited upon our nationals are unique to us – that other nationals are not subjected to the same kinds of abuse. Want to talk about Filipinas being considered whores? Let’s talk about Russian mail-order brides and exported prostitutes. Let’s talk about the Chinese whores brought into this country by the boatload to work in brothels in Manila. 

The point being that we are not being singled out by the universe for abuse. It’s just the inferiorty complex talking.

So get a grip, Riza.


Filed under: international, society, , , , , , , ,

8 Responses

  1. BrianB says:

    Filipinos never fight fair. But why do we continue losing? Hm.

  2. J says:

    Wow. Very well said, Rom. Exactly what I was thinking.

  3. sparks says:

    I am sensitive to this issue because I worked for an online dating company in Oz. In our work manual Filipinas = whores, camgirls and con artists. I saw their half naked pictures. I read their sob-story scam stories. I kicked them out of our websites whenever they started doing “shows.” My heart bled for suspiciously young-looking fresh-faced girls (real or not).

    The reason why this hits a sensitive nerve in many of us is because it is true. The fictional Filipina maid’s condition is all too real. Is she a victim or a willing participant? When is servitude ever a choice?

    I found the clip revolting and so I signed the online petition and emailed a complaint to the BBC.

    Its the least I can do. It took the same amount of time to write this comment. Does this not perfectly articulate our collective helplessness in this instance? Our only course of action is to rail against injustice perceived or not?

  4. rom says:

    Sparks: I understand what you are saying, but I cannot accept the concept of ‘our collective helplessness.’ That’s the victim mentality I’m talking about right there.

    This is comedy. Granted it’s insensitive, but is it not also a way of presenting the truth? As you said, the clip hit a nerve because it is true. Well, the truth stings. Are you gonna shoot the clown that forced us to face up to it?

    Oh and, this whole business about seeing a maid and automatically see a slave? That’s what I find revolting. Because if people think like that, then it’s no wonder that we – as a society – still look down on garbage men as losers instead of people making an honest living.

  5. sparks says:


    I did a whole series on the cinderella-maria clara-victim mentality as reflection pieces on my experience working with this online company. If you google “Philippine Pussy” I believe my blog entry is result no. 2. I too think we need to stop beating ourselves needlessly. But then there is reality. Actual Filipinas trafficked abroad to work as maids or as sex workers.

    Sure I am an advocate for dignity of labor. Unfortunately the reality for migrant Filipinas hardly ever match my ideal. We know the stories.

    You and I would never know what its like to be a Filipina domestic helper abroad. But when we see something like this – the least we can do is speak on her behalf, to articulate what she cannot.

  6. rom says:

    sparks: no, i will prolly never know what a filipina domestic goes through abroad. but the difference between us is that i don’t expect the world to be sensitive to our plight. I would like to think that our pride goes deeper than that.

  7. sparks says:

    i don’t expect the world to be sensitive to our plight.

    The 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development will be held here in Manila at the end of the month. While the UN and other participating IOs have already set an agenda there is lee-way for local participants and the Philippine government to highlight the need for increased protection for migrant labour. The first forum was held in Belgium. I believe this to be a symbolic gesture to let labour-sending countries such as ours have a say with high-level negotiations.

    The merits of the multilateral agreements, plans of action and norms that will result from this forum will of course be debatable. I know plenty of INGOs along with local civil society counterparts will be coming here as well to hold an “alternative” forum. Ours is hardly a model of labour export.

    At the multilateral and transnational civil society levels at least, there is lee-way to make foreigners “sensitive to our plight.”

    It is a small thing to sign the petition, but ordinary Filipinos’ collective voices calling out what they see as injustice is a symbolic gesture that we do expect labour-receiving countries and their peoples to be sensitive to migrant workers who answer their labour shortage.

  8. rom says:

    sparks: well, those who do see this bbc sketch as an injustice will certainly sign that petition. those who don’t see it as an injustice, won’t.

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