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.