Standing Out Like A Sore Thumb

When you’re a white guy and you’re in the Philippines you’re something like a superstar.  It feels like you’re being followed around by the paparazzi or something.  This isn’t really the case in the Manila area, well not so much anyways, but out in the provincial areas, everyone takes a look at you.

I get the feeling that in the Philippines people who live in the provincial areas don’t travel too much, so they probably don’t see foreigners very often.  When I was walking around the Pampanga area people would sometimes plainly stare.

There was an instance where I was riding on a Jeepney with my wife and my father-in-law.  Two Filipinas were sitting across from us at opposite ends of the bench.  Every time I looked their way they were eyeing me.  One of them had a distasteful or maybe a hateful look on her face.  Maybe she had something against me being there, or maybe the look was aimed at my wife, who’s also a Filipina.  The other one looked like she was hoping I would come talk to her.  When the latter one got off the Jeepney and walked past us, she gave me a funny looking smile, like she was trying to be cute.  I thought it was even more strange, because she didn’t seem to care that my wife was sitting there with me.  It’s not as if I was trying to hide my ring or anything.  My wife told me that it’s normal.  Just the fact that you’re from another country makes you extra attractive in the Philippines and she says a lot of the girls there are very unscrupulous when it comes to married men.

Other times the stares weren’t quite so pleasant.  When we were traveling from Porac to Antipolo I was carrying my laptop in a bag.  Quite a few people looked me up and down like they were sizing me up and contemplating what might be in my bag and whether or not it might be worthwhile to try to rob me.  My wife says that a lot of Filipinos have the mentality that all foreigners in the Philippines must be rich.

That mentality definitely has its downsides.  Everywhere you go people call out “Hey mister! Hey mister!” to you, trying to get you to purchase something from their stall or something they’re carrying around.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, it’s like having a cloud of mosquitoes buzzing around you all the time.

Being a foreigner in the Philippines has its ups and downs.  Sometimes you feel like a superstar.  Other times you wish you could just blend in and enjoy the scenery without being bothered.

4 thoughts on “Standing Out Like A Sore Thumb”

  1. Good way to give her a verbal whack in the head. I hate snotty people who think they're special just because of a piece of paper on their wall. I have a theory about that. I've met people with plenty of certifications and degrees and whatnot, but they were still dumb as bricks when it came to common sense, or even common knowledge. Some of the smartest people in the world, and in history, didn't have much of a formal education, if any at all. Nowadays, people with degrees are a dime a dozen. It takes a lot more work to find someone of quality.


  2. Rowena… you have no idea how much I can relate to that. Well, me and my wife actually. We've noticed the same thing here, about how Filipinas (mostly) and Filipinos here in Singapore think they're better than their counterparts in the Philippines just because they're living and working in another country. They have this high minded, snotty attitude about it. Especially the ones that aren't maids.Something I can add to that though is that in the Philippines, having worked abroad is seen as something to brag about, and something to be prideful of. If a parent has a son or daughter working abroad, they're sure to tell everyone. It's some sort of badge of honor.


  3. Amusing indeed! I remember being at a wedding party where the bride's new inlaws were the “snotty type”. The bride herself was just like me, born/raised american with filipino ancestry. Anyway, one of the bride's new aunt-in-laws came up to my father and said, “I have a PHD in blah blah blah…what do you do?” She was clearly stating her social status. What my father said then was priceless – without missing a beat he replied, “I'm PHD too. That's in post hole digger, you know, the telephone poles?” And then he gave her the silliest grin and walked away.


  4. Well here's something to digest….I AM a filipina (mixed) ethnic-wise and I've already experienced the hateful staredown from another filipina that was obviously the hired domestic help. I mean, talk about if looks could kill! I've also been approached by other women from the Phillipines or Asia that are now living in Italy, and they all ask the same thing (in italian) — are you filipina? When I reply that I'm an american with filipino ancestry, they make like they just spoke with their worst enemy. I don't get it.My grandparents immigrated to Hawaii when they were young, and my father and his siblings all grew up with an american cultural upbringing. I've been told that people in the Phillipines think that all americans are rich, and in a way it's sorta true. I just don't care much for the ones that come to Hawaii as new wives of americans, and act as if all of sudden they are “rich” 'cause they're in the states.


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