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OUR SKIN DIARY: Braving Stereotypes


About what you wrote, it was something I’ve been looking for for the past months. I’ve read tons of similar write-ups but none have captured the shame and belittling that I have felt whenever a snide remark is whirled at me for having dark skin and being with a foreign boyfriend.

I’ve thought about writing my frustrations countless times but I wasn’t sure anyone could relate at all. And it was in that moment when an acquaintance uploaded a first photo of her with her american boyfriend captioned “Braving stereotypes” that I felt someone is going through the same road as me. And I was happy (if that’s even appropriate), I felt a bit secure knowing I wasn’t alone.


braving stereotypesed

I never really thought that this sort of bullying would happen to me. Maybe I was naive, but I was used to being surrounded by people who are well travelled, and maybe “cultured” enough to not throw around really nasty comments. But surprise surprise, just a few weeks when I started going out with Paco (boyfriend), I encountered my first insult. It was at the basement parking in Ayala’s new wing– my favorite spot because it’s where the carwash boys usually stay. Lo and behold when I got out of the car, the carwashers only greeted Paco “Good morning, Sir” as if I wasn’t there. To add salt to the injury, one of them said, “Carwash, Sir?” I got irked in an instant because I thought they’d at least feel my presence seeing as I was the one who came out from the driver’s seat. Pissed, I told them, “Kuya, ako ang tag-iya. Ngano sya inyong gipangutana?” (I cringed while saying that because it was so hilas but I felt that I had to), to which they just answered with “Unya pacarwash ka ma’am?” I just wished they’d say sorry.

It was also in that time that I decided to realize my long dream of traveling, starting off with local– Bantayan, South of Cebu, Siargao, etc. of course, with Paco.

In summary, these are the remarks that stuck with me until now:

“May ka day nakabingwit og batan-on” -Bantayan fisherman (I laughed when I read that line from your article although yours was just insinuated)
“Wait, how old are you?” -Danish girl and American girl at Siquijor (they thought I was 17 dating a 30 year old man) (I’m actually 21 and Paco is 24) this just goes to show that stereotyping is not limited on our fellow Filipinos as well

“Importante gyud ning edukasyon aron dili ra minyo’g kano ang ending. Awa” -Filipino father talking to his children on the table next to ours at Siquijor

“Di diay ka librehan sa imong bana, day? Kakuyaw” – man at the ticketing booth in Siquijor (with matching agik-ik) to which I replied “Naa man koy akong kaugalingong kwarta noy”

These are just a few of the condescending lines I encounter on a daily basis when we are together traveling. And suffice to say, I’ve grown to being numb at the insults.

It’s actually a good lesson on anger management since I just can’t slap people with my diploma to prove I am not what they think I am. But like what

Paco said, these shouldn’t stop me from enjoying every bit of the place where I go. And that what people usually say about me speaks more about them.

Along the way, we will learn to just roll our eyes internally at any sentences with the words “lagom” and “porener” in it. You have no idea how much your article has lifted my spirits up… So thank you for that!

Like me, you can just laugh it off and tell them next time that yes, you married a 70-year-old foreigner you met at a dating site. You’ll have the last laugh with that. I do mine when I tell them I’m 12. It’s so annoying to the point that it becomes ridiculously funny.
Yay to empowering “lagom” Filipinas! I hope you have a great time on your Southeast Asian travel. Hope to bump into you then. Have a great day!

—C M


A COMMENT ON: Like me, you can just laugh it off and tell them next time that yes, you married a 70-year-old foreigner you met at a dating site.

JONA: I refuse to laugh it  off and will not tell what they long to hear. People need educating, especially the kids. Laughing it off seems like accepting bigotry. It is high time to wage war against this.

Please, when you encounter racist remarks for having dark skin, please take time to insist some truths. The world will not thank you for that, but who knows, you might alter someone’s views.

Till then.

And yeah, let’s travel some more. Outward and inward.

*OUR SKIN DIARY tackles the issues associated on one’s skin. Literal. Metaphorical.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at backpackingwithabook@gmail.com. For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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