An American in the Philippines is an entertainment treat for most Filipinos. We white or black skinned foreigners stride the malls under a constant gaze of amusement or awe or distaste. Because I stand 6’ 4” and – what can I say – look the way I look, I get a lot of teen aged giggles, catcalls from men and smiles from women.
I have come to like the “Hey Joe” call that greets me when I walk about on the streets or beaches. I return it with a smile or a greeting. We are friends, it seems.
I prefer to ignore the exceptions.
The one I don’t quite get, or if I think too much about it, don’t like, is when young people from age 6 to 25 pass by and cry out “Daddy!” They don’t do this when they are alone, only when they are with others whom they seek to impress or amuse. Too often the cry comes from youngish girls. They make the call then burst into giggles of . . . what . . . delight?
The point they are making, I suppose, is that foreigners often like to liaise with Filipinas, and the outcome is frequently kids. The foreigner has money so if you are one of the kids, you are lucky enough to claim some.
So I am “Daddy” to those who want some of my money, or who know they can’t have it and want to slur me with a “you sex maniac” comment, read between the lines of the “Daddy” and the giggle. It’s bizarre.
I also get treated better than a lot of Filipinos in banks, government offices and stores. That is also weird in the extreme. This is a country with values that discriminate against its own. Indeed, I dislike whitening creams, for they suggest that Filipinos need to hide or erase their brown skins, which I find more attractive than my pasty white one. And a lot more practical under the heat of the tropical sun.
It is easy to conclude that this is a nation in need of mass psycho-therapy so people become content with who they are, and content with who others are, even if they are different. There should be no need to frame the differences with stares or catcalls that reveal too much about the person doing the staring or calling.
As my Mama used to say, “Son, it is not polite to stare” and “Son, it is not polite to point” and “Son, if you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say it at all”.
And as my Pappy used to say, “Son, go get a Coke while I flip through the Playboy magazine”.