Colors and Tones

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There is a pervasive culture of “whiteness as aesthetically supreme” in the Filipino Society. This engenders a sociological implication that fair skinned folks are by far better looking than their brown skinned counterparts.

It is not fair to blame everything to media, though they take a large part of propagating this belief to the masses. But we trace this from our past, within the time frame of our colonized era, and the American Occupation as well.

The Spanish colonizers, ever proud of their heritage and bloodline brandished their superiority in language, religion, firepower, education, and even their political system over the inferior indios. They subjugated all oppositions, and treated the inhabitants of their colony as lower entities. Thus, a ranking in terms of lineage and locality was born. We had mestizas and mestizos. There were also those snub nosed Espanol who looked down upon their brothers and sisters because they were born in the Philippines despite being of the same blood and heritage.

This prejudice is very much true amongst all Europeans, and their skin is their badge to supremacy. The literature of some black writers of racism and philosophy serves as testaments to such bigoted ideology. And so, even in the present time, after a century of relative freedom from our colonizers, there are still a few number of clans existing with the Spanish bloodlines. They reign over us, the masses, as they hold a conglomeration of businesses, and have vast connections to the political arena as well as to the upper echelon of the society. With their name is their pride, for only a select few carry it.

The Americans came next. They literally bought us from the clutches of  Spain. But this is a matter of history only. We did not yet gain freedom then. This time though, the Americans are more than willing to impart their knowledge, their language at the foremost of their educational agenda. We were however, in the same situation as we did with Spain. Only, this one wears a different mask. Spain used Religion, America used Education. America exhausted all its efforts to obliterate Filipino nationalism by actually stuffing the heads of the Filipinos at that time with the study of Shakespeare and some other foreign authors. English language was the “in” thing. My grandmother who never finished high school probably speaks better in anglaise than any high school teacher in English now. The flags of  America were raised in all key institutions then, the red and white stripes with the stars, very conspicuous for everybody to see.

Going back to my main premise, what we now see here are two representations of superiority, and each of these foreign nations, America and Spain, infused into the earlier generations many experiences which later on evolved, either consciously or unconsciously, into ideals. Caucasians are white, and they carry with them a sophistication that is so different from our way of living before their occupation. They bombarded us with what is “ideal”, and how things are supposed to work or to look like. We adapted some of their values, which were totally alien to the original settlers of this very country.

What do we now have? Oh just some commercial asking you “what touches your skin?” Why so? Maybe we can try to watch some cheesy talk shows on TV and actually give statistics of how many of these local actors use a certain pill for whitening the skin. My sister uses a papaya soap to lighten her skin, I use lotion and facial creams to achieve the same effect (haha!). It is sad that we are trying to copy their physical attributes, instead of some of their finer legacies, such as the values that led these nations into greatness, minus the racial paternalism and discrimination.

The concept of discrimination is very dynamic and complex that to go through its very core means trying to understand the consciousness and experiences of those who has been deeply immersed by it. Ours is more subtle, but is still very true amongst us. The force of ethnocentrism, and of thought that one’s lineage is better than the other is a norm that is very hard to ignore. The Fil-chinese would prefer their daughters and sons to marry the same ethnicity or better yet, someone who is of pure Chinese ancestry. In fairness to them, I think it’s more of them trying to maintain and expand their business rather than being really concerned about the mix in the blood of their grandchildren. If we read the lifestyle and events section of some of our major broadsheets, we will see every now and then the marriage of this and that, one of Chinese descent and the other a Filipino borne from an affluent clan of politicians and/or powerful business folks. In this case, we have a mix of economic-racial discrimination. There is an inverse proportionality between the race and economics. The racial fraction taking the backseat more and more as the eminence of the potential “other half” rises higher.

After so many years of fighting for our freedom, the effects of colonization still lingers to some extent, that we never really are liberated totally from our colonizers.


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