AETA PEOPLE: NATIVES OF ASIA AND THE ORIGINAL INHABITANTS OF PHILIPPINES
There is no rule on how to speak with a Filipina, or a woman in general. There’s no single rule on how to compliment people. Just be honest and sincere, with the best interest of the other person in mind. Compliment only when necessary, and when asked.
We, Filipinas, aren’t used to shaving our legs. Well, not until we started embracing the Western culture, and decided that yes, removing body hair may enhance our appearance and confidence, and may be a great addition to our hygienic regimen. Don’t judge us. We don’t necessarily like having body hair from head to toe and looking like apes. But the process of body hair removal is tiresome and painful – shaving, plucking or trimming hair takes time, not to mention hair removing products or waxing salon services costs a lot.
It’s already a chore perfecting our eyebrows, we will have to devote a lot of time doing the rest. Also, shaving gives us the itch in all the weird places once our body hair starts to re-grow. Give us some slack when we spend a week allowing these hairs to grow long enough to be shaved again. And more slack when we decide that removing body hair is an unnecessary beauty routine. With body hair or not, we’re beautiful just the same. It’s just a matter of personal preference, really.
9. You’re so mean (maldita, arte and hard-to-get) or you’re so nice (and easy to get).
I’ve heard several guys say they want maldita women as girlfriends because other guys will have a hard time liking or wooing them. Okay, if that’s the case, then how can they like such women in the first place? Maldita has negative meanings – naughty, damned and spoiled, while arte means not nice, unappreciative and surly. Most women don’t like to be labeled as such. I mean, women generally don’t like to be labeled at all.
Some of you guys might have called us maldita and arte to make us feel guilty of ignoring your advances. That’s just lame. Did it ever occur to you that we might actually think you don’t deserve our attention and love, that’s why we don’t reciprocate your feelings? Yep, we’re not always playing hard-to-get by being arte and maldita. Most of the time, we’re very serious about you not getting us (our love), period. On the other hand, saying we’re so friendly, nice and easy-to-get is just as damaging. Filipinas can be both good and bad, depending on the situation.
8. You speak funny or your English is not good.
BPO may be the fastest growing industry in the country, but not every Filipino or Filipina works as call center agents, or is into speaking the language as a career. Yes, English is our language of instruction, but we’re no native speakers, and not all of us are trying or are trained to be. Our English sounds funny because of our native accent. I mean, why are Italians, Indians and Russians accepted, even adored, for their accents, and not Filipinos? Kamon, yu hab gat tu bi kidding mi!?
7. Your English is very good, and yet you’re Filipina.
Yes, our English is very good, di ba? Thank you, ha.
Whether we’re fluent English speakers or not, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. English isn’t our native language, but then we study in schools where the language is widely taught, we watch movies and listen to music in English, and we use English every day, at least bits of it while we’re texting, making phone calls, writing blogs, making social media posts, or having casual conversations. We also use English when we’re out doing job interviews and professional or business conversations. There’s a high chance for us to speak and write using the English language with such proficiency. But be forgiving if we’re not perfect at it. We will never be. We’re Filipinos after all.
6. Wow, you’re dating a white man, you’re so lucky.
Lucky as in you’re going to be rich and have pretty or handsome kids (white skin, pointed nose, blond hair, and maybe blue eyes) who could be the next Pinoy celebrity. Yeah, right. If a Filipina is dating a white man or any foreigner for that matter, it doesn’t mean that life is going to be easy or problem-free. There’s nothing easy and simple about marriage, especially when it’s between two people born thousands of miles apart and raised so differently.
Also, not all Filipinas who date foreigners are out there going after their Caucasian looks or their dollars. There are gold diggers, I have to admit. (Gold diggers are everywhere in the planet, and not just in the Philippines.) But some of these Filipinas are genuinely in love with their foreigner partners, and are even self sufficient with financially sound careers and jobs of their own. When there’s real love, despite the racial difference, if the Filipina dating a white man is lucky, the same can be said for the white man, too.
5. You’re doing financially well, did you marry a foreigner or OFW?
Filipinas are not inutile. Many, if not all, of us were trained at a young age to do household chores and cultivate cottage skills such as cooking, baking, sewing, gardening, and a whole lot more. Many of us were sent to schools and have attained or finished college education, as well as post graduate trainings, which have equipped us with sufficient knowledge and expertise. Many of us are intellectually, emotionally and financially independent. Many of us don’t need foreigners or rich husbands to feed our mouths. Many of us can do so on our own. But when we are short of supporting ourselves, it’s still not a reason for you to disparage us and say we are nothing without our generous partners. At least give us credit for making the marriage or partnership work, and for loving and supporting our spouse or partners the best way we know how.
4. You look tired and frumpy (lusyang).
We all have bad hair days. We all experience trying times. We all go through a phase where we’re overcome by stresses and worries in life. When you notice us looking frumpy and stressed, we really are. We might be very busy, but we always find time to prettify ourselves – at least do our hair, take a long bath, and put on perfume. But when bad hair days start to become bad hair weeks or months, then something is terribly wrong, and we could use some help. The last thing we need when we’re lusyang is sarcasm and thoughtlessness. You don’t need to tell us how scruffy we look because we know that already. Good that you noticed our hair needs a good brushing, and better that you’d volunteer to help us do our hair and maybe run a few errands, too.
3. You look exotic (dark skinned), you should marry a foreigner.
Even if you’re just being nice by saying, “hey, you look pretty for a (dark) Filipina,” that’s just sick. Our skin color or the way we look shouldn’t be the sole basis for our attractiveness. This is racist at best. As Filipinas, our natural brown skin, petite physique and black hair may set us apart from other races, but that doesn’t mean we’re above or below the “normal” standard of beauty. I mean, there’s no such thing. Exotic may very well describe plants, animals and places, but never people of color.
Because not all Filipinas are dark, those who are become objects of ridicule and suspicion especially when they date white foreigners. While it’s normal for Filipinos to become physically attracted to foreigners, particularly Caucasians, and vice versa, still marrying a foreigner isn’t always the best and only mating option for a dark skinned Filipina.
When you start labeling us as exotic, that could mean two things – you love or hate us for being different. Either way, it’s dehumanizing and has negative socio-cultural impacts. It’s never a nice thing to say to a Filipina that she’s exotic, pointing out how strangely different she looks from the women back home.
2. You look hot and sexy (perhaps you have gained or lost weight).
Like other women, we Filipinas are generally conscious of how we look. That’s just part of being a woman. When we pass by a mirror or a tinted glass, we stop and look at our reflection. That said, it’s understood that commenting on a woman’s weight is impolite. If the woman is obviously obese, and you tell them they are not fat – that’s rude. If the woman is obviously skinny, and you tell them they are voluptuous – that’s also rude. Well, not unless you’re a doctor explaining to a patient about their weight issues. In the same way, commenting on a woman’s hotness or sexiness is plain rude unless you’re sure she’d take it without thinking you’re a condescending jerk.
1. You’re tummy seems bigger, are you pregnant?
There’s this thing about having a baby bump, it can be a scary or happy thing, or both. To most women, being pregnant is a truly nice thing. It’s even the best of the best news to a woman or a couple trying to conceive. But when you foretell a woman’s pregnancy based on the shape and size of their belly alone, that’s terrible. That’s just another way of saying the woman is awfully fat and has bulges in the wrong places.
Please, there is no universal pregnancy experience. Different women go through pregnancy differently. Some never even get the chance to experience it. Some women may look pregnant, but are 100% virgins, infertile, in abstinence, or are suffering a disease. When a woman seems to have a big tummy, never assume they are pregnant and never comment that they might be.
This is a limited list, we know. Chime in and share your thoughts below for some friendly discussion.