Tuesday, June 29, 2010

That Filipino Look

It was recently reported in the news that a Scottish MP resigned after being heard saying that a woman in the audience had "that Filipino look."

The MP said,

"There's a very attractive girl in the second row. Dark and dusky. I'll maybe have to put a wee word out for her. She's very attractive-looking. Nice, very nice. The heat's getting to me. True, true, true. She's got that Filipino look, you know the kind you would see in a Gauguin painting. There's a wee bit of culture."

Filipino look. Gauguin painting. He's referring to something like this:

While that particular work by French post-impressionist painter Eugene Henri Paul Gauguin features two Tahitian women, not Filipinas, I can pretty much bet that he was actually thinking along the lines of this:

Or maybe I'm wrong. But it does give me an excuse to post a picture of a hot-looking Angel Locsin and say it's for the purpose of an academic discussion.


That Filipino look. What is it anyway?

During a diplomatic training I attended abroad, each participant from the different countries presented a country report. Mine included a brief discussion on the different appearances Filipinos have which aimed to highlight our celebration of cultural diversity. Their interests were piqued when I showed them pictures of Filipinos with various facial features, caused by our genetic recipe. The Philippines has the Malays (Christianized and Moros), the Mestizos (usually Malay + Spanish or Chinese), and the indigenous folk (i.e. Igorots, Aetas).

They must have really been surprised to learn of such diversity that during breakfast the following day, many delegates placed their chairs around the table I ate in and asked me to tell them more about "the country with so many different people."


It's quite funny that in all my travels in different countries, I've always been mistaken for so many other nationalities. No one has ever made a correct first conjecture. I've been mistaken for a Malaysian, Indonesian, Thai, Indian, Bangladeshi, Chinese (?), and Japanese (???). (I guess you can already picture what the color of my skin is.) But no one has yet to get it correctly, except Filipinos themselves, of course.

Why? I can't really point out a definitive answer to this. Is it because the Philippines could be less famous than the other countries? Is it because the Philippines has no famous Filipino that can provide a "common" Filipino look? (Especially for men. Manny Pacquiao is the Filipino most often reported in the news, and half of the time, his face is shown swelling or bleeding) Is it because we are harder to stereotype or caricature face-wise (which may or may not be a good thing)?


It's a humorous relief to know that even the citizens of more well-known Asian countries can suffer from this. Differentiating Asians, for untrained foreign eyes, can be pretty confusing.

A Chinese friend gets annoyed whenever we would walk around the city we were in during off-hours and the locals would greet him "Japan" as we passed by. The rest of our international barkada would rib him about it in good fun.

On the other hand, a Japanese friend of mine shared with me that he's gotten used to the locals of the country we live in now greeting him "China" or "ni hao." I told him I get that too sometimes. It's really more often a result of ignorance on the local's part than an attempt at insult.

But sharing similar features doesn't always result in awkward moments. When I was in a training program, I went around town with my Indonesian friend. Seeing as how we had similar skin color, a local asked us if we were brother and sister. We said yes at the same time. We joked we just came from different mothers. The local smiled.

Since then, she would call me "bro" and I'd call her "sis." Maybe one day, I can joke that a Philippine diplomat has an Indonesian Ambassador for a "sibling."


Since we already started with Angel Locsin, let's further educate the Scottish MP about what other possible "Filipino look" there is, aside from what can be seen in Gauguin paintings. Again, this is... um... purely for academic purposes:


  1. Igorots are not indigenous like the aetas or negritos, they're like other malays, but usually fairer & more almond shaped eyes.

    1. Most igorots or Cordillerans people looks like east asians people similar to chinese, taiwanese, koreans and japanese, they have lighter or fair skin color, some small eyes, majority average pointed nose, red lips and average height. But in kalinga province most people living there look like India or bombay because majority of them have darker skin tone or brown color, slightly bigger eyes, pointed nose, and taller than the average height of the Igorots.

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  2. Boys if a gal looks like shes a whore she likely is.dont be taken in by a nice ass for a good time in the rack.you better know her b4 you take the leap

  3. Boys if a gal looks like shes a whore she likely is.dont be taken in by a nice ass for a good time in the rack.you better know her b4 you take the leap

  4. Lol. I'm 1/2 filipina and 1/4 German & quarter polish! I'm often mistaken for a south-american. But most people think I'm Asian. Once I even was called Pocahontas (I think the Disney Pocahontas describes me well^^). I also think Gauguin fits me well.