Guest post by Dani from This Village Girl.com
“Are you from the Philippines?”
A guy asked me and my roommate of four years with a very thick Chinese-Malay accent. We just moved to Malaysia for work.
“Yup.” …I just let my roommate answer for the both us. I had a feeling that this conversation was going to a place I wouldn’t like it to. I didn’t want to answer him, not even with the slightest tinge of cockiness.
“This is a very nice restaurant. Don’t you have to send money back home?” The guy tried really hard not to to sound offending but the mere fact that he asked…his “careful” way of asking didn’t change a thing. He wanted to know what two Filipinos who are supposed to be poor were doing in a posh restaurant like this and if we were capable of paying for what we would be ordering.
The last thing I remember, before the rudeness of this encounter, was that he just wanted to check if he could share the table with us. I just don’t know how he ended up throwing us a subtle kind of insult.
This nice restaurant has a live Jazz band every Wednesday night which is one of the reasons why we loved chilling out here. Also, the fact that this little mall is so close to where we used to live was a great plus. I must admit that it is indeed quite pricey. But I mean, who cares? Is this not why we are working? To afford nice things in life?
The restaurant was full.
We couldn’t blame the people. The restaurant’s Jazz night is just awesome and the Filipino kitchen staff made sure that we would be well taken cared of. Alcohol just kept coming even when we didn’t order.
It was my roommate in the Philippines who suggested that I also try applying for this banking and customer service job in Malaysia and though I didn’t want to have anything to do with banks, customer service and money anymore, I still tried my luck.
I wanted some change. I needed to make good use of my 10 day annual leaves. I needed to make sure that I would find the reason why I am behaving in such way. I was desperate for change.
“We don’t worry about our families. Our families worry about us.” My roommate said.
“So you are the lucky ones.” He replied in a heartbeat.
“Yup!” We both chimed.
My roommate and I are daughters of what Philippines call modern day heroes. Our parents are working overseas and send us financial support even if we are already working. We were both sent to good schools and we grew up rubbing elbows with the spoiled and entitled kids.
I’d say that this is what I have grown up with. We might not have parental guidance but we were given whatever money can buy and the freedom to do it.
The combination was lethal. I became so full of myself.
It never failed to make me act like Paris Hilton even though I am from a poor village. Money and freedom gave me a feeling that I was invincible.
The Philippines is a poor country or I’d rather say that in a not so good economical condition and the majority of the people suffer from extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy and unemployment.
Our law is mostly in shades of gray instead of being black and white.
Traffic in the city and in the metro is horrible.
Unemployment rate is high.
Cost of living is probably even higher.
Education is a luxury.
If one managed to get a college degree, it makes her stand a better chance in life.
English is definitely not a language. English is a class.
I can still remember, before becoming an English teacher to the refugees, I would base a guy’s dateability to his English knowledge. While all the girls I knew back home swooned over killer abs and handsome faces, I would be checking for possible grammatical errors from a guy’s text message.
This whole thing just stopped when I started living outside my country where I saw that English is not the sole basis of a person’s intelligence. English is not the only language there is. Spelling and grammar are not a person’s basis of good character. English is not everything.
Though I never really experienced being bullied for traveling alone, I am still being stereotyped as an uneducated, gold-digging Filipina.
I am still being stereotyped as an uneducated, gold-digging Filipina.
Where I come from, we always have a smile on our faces even though we are not sure if we will have something to eat for dinner or if our bills will be paid. In Germany for example, (where I currently live) people have everything but they still believe that they have tons of reasons not to smile. People even complain about how shitty the weather is.
When I was new here, I used to smile at people on the streets but that only got me date invites, free beers and close to being raped which lead me to change the way I dress.
In Europe, I will always be a walking sex object. Even my ability to speak English never failed to spark curiosity. Is this how bad third world countries citizens reputation is? For once, I am thankful that I am a nerd and secondly, that my mother always reminded me that education will get me further in life.
After years of trying to learn more about cultures, languages and people’s behavior, I have learned to pick my battles. I no longer make an effort to correct nor educate a person. A person can’t be taught. A person can only find it within himself like how I found mine within me when I refused to eat what society puts on my table.
In years of constantly asking myself why I stray and why I am alive, I found why I always feel lost. I am not lost. I am just always in search of something new to learn. I am just always excited of seeing things from a different and even twisted perspective.