Beyond the PAL/Kloss incident
I’M GLAD that Claude Lucas C. Despabiladeras expressed his disapproval of Philippine Airlines’ apology to international model Karlie Kloss (“No need for PAL to sound apologetic; it was tardy passenger’s fault” (Opinion, 6/20/16). It was a piece that I relished reading belatedly.
Unaware of Kloss’ existence prior to reading Despabiladeras’ letter, I searched her on Google and discovered that she is, well, Caucasian (American with Danish roots).
I was not quite shocked by her diva-like attitude, which had been exhibited in other ways before by many (in)famous people who think that the world revolves around them. Although I must state categorically that despite my “nonshock” of Kloss’ actions, I absolutely do not condone them. I also got rather irked myself over PAL’s apology and offer to refund her ticket.
But I would like to go beyond this PAL/Kloss incident. PAL’s kowtowing to this former “Victoria’s Secret Angel” is reflective of a trait of many (not all) Filipinos: the unreasonable, unnecessary and even embarrassing (yeah, I said it) obsequiousness to westerners, especially whites. I guess that having been colonized by the Americans, the notion that we are inferior to white people is still embedded in us.
As a Filipino immigrant in the United States, I have observed this tendency of many Filipinos to be obliging and accommodating to Americans to the point of brownnosing them. I’ve cringed at seeing up close many kababayan being overawed and overjoyed by the littlest things Americans say and do (even corny and contrived jokes), which is the same feeling I get whenever I notice Filipino restaurant staff (both in the Philippines and in the United States) showing more eagerness to serve white people, as they flash their wider and friendlier smiles. Not only that, there’s also that slight bow which makes them come across as if they feel so honored to be in the service of somebody with fairer skin.
What upsets me most about this is that this abundant goodwill and generosity for Caucasians disappear when Filipinos deal with each other. As if we are not deserving of positive treatment. This is sad, because rather than taking each other for granted, Filipinos have to be extra kind and supportive of each other, especially when based in other countries.
This is not to encourage Filipinos to be cold and stuck-up to people of other races, but to simply remind ourselves that, hey, the Filipino is just as good as any other nationality out there, whether his/her skin is white, black, yellow, green, blue, red, fuchsia, etc.
Let’s have a bit more dignity and pride as a people, and fairness and firmness in applying rules that are meant to be followed by everyone. No race deserves better treatment than others. We are all equal.
Sandra Bullock herself said in her 2010 Oscar Best Actress acceptance speech: “…there’s no race, no religion, no class system, no color, nothing, no sexual orientation that makes us better than anyone else. We are all deserving of love.”
—MARICE LYNN AREVALO, firstname.lastname@example.org
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