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HONORING MY MOTHER | Stereotyping 101




I REMEMBER watching a weekend basketball game in Perth many years ago between two pinoy clubs. While sitting among permanent pinoy residents and enjoying home-cooked Filipino delicacies, I was naturally privy to the ongoing blow-by-blow commentaries and conversations among our countrymen-cum-spectators in the sports arena. Though not really gifted with a front row to the ongoing tussle on court, the whole dynamics in our middle seat area proved to be both more interesting and entertaining at the same time than the actual game itself. 

Whenever there were questionable calls from the Aussie refs, comments ranged from practically anything, knowledge of hoop rules, cultural roots, down to the size of his shoes, but never to any objective assessment of what had been the cause of the violation on the court. My companion then, a housemate, replied, “Pinoy talaga.” (roughly translatable as, what-would-you-expect-from-pinoys?)

Once, while seated in the seat directly behind the jeepney driver, we were stopped by a policeman for clearly a road violation on our part. As he was being written a traffic ticket and later being demanded to hand in his driver’s license, the driver had immediately gone into a whole tirade of animated pleadings aimed at the officer, with a street performance that ranged from calling to the heavens for help and then mentioning a possible effect on his child’s tuition. When all these and other theatrics proved ineffective, he just sighed silently in surrender as the cop finished his assigned duty, handed him his ticket and walked away. 

Once out of hearing distance, the driver instantly burst into a loud rant, blaming the cops for everything; from being a corrupt person to being the cause of all the traffic in the city. Not once had there been a mention of his misdemeanor and admittance of what he had done wrong in the first place. Even with all details still unclear, I wonder, does this qualify as another case of “pinoy talaga”?

At an Auto parts shop in Monteverde, entrance to the building had been slowed down by the implemented quarantine rules which required disinfecting, checking for body temperature and showing of QR identification. An irate customer suddenly barged into the line and attempted to go ahead of the rest, insisting that other establishments on the block had not been as strict.

Finally, during one of our shows long ago, I had once announced to our audience that our performance would promptly start at six-thirty. As I went down the stage, a member of the audience met me and asked if it was really true that we would actually start on time. He had even added that us Filipinos were always notorious for being late. Always.

Don’t know what to make of all these, but when you finally put it all on the table, surely one of the most common reactions would be, “Pinoy talaga” or “only in the Philippines’ ‘. Are we really doomed to that fixed and oversimplified mold which others insist is known all over the world?

Sad truth is, even some of our countrymen abroad count as those among the first ones who’d point their fingers at fellow pinoys, as though ashamed to be coming from these shores, while some I know are generally embarrassed to be later branded as “ayshuns”.

No closure as yet to all of the above, as I have been hearing of it since high school. All I know is, it’s really much better when we were younger and without any biases at all in our bones. 



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