“Are you from Africa?”
“Dili. Gikan sa America” ( No. I am from America)
“Taga Diin ko sa Africa!” ( I am from Africa!)
Mass confusion on so many levels…
I was on a bus with a friend and RPCV from my site. She is white and speaks really good Cebuano. So the woman who asked me if I was from Africa was a) confused because we both spoke the language and b) really perplexed that the black girl is from America and the white girl was from Africa. The truth of the matter is, Angela and I are both from Chicago. We let the woman in on our little joke, but judging by the look on her face, I am not sure she believed us. She was content just to touch my hair, which I obliged. As long as Dawn is pulled up in a loose pony, touching doesn’t do much damage.
Dawn is a star here in the Philippines.
One night when I was doing outreach at a strip club, a madam offered to give me a job sitting outside the club letting strangers touch my hair. I did consider it for like half a second…
I was at work looking at this chart that another friend posted on Facebook.
One of the girls at my site was intrigued and decided to do some investigating to find out my hair type. It was a short quest, but when she finished, the result was “ Mostly 3c and some 4s!”. She was so excited she wanted to spread the word, even though I don’t think she or anyone she told understood what she was talking about. It really didn’t matter because everyone came over to investigate and make sure her findings were correct.
My hair is a star in the Philippines.
The truth of the matter is, years of life in America have prepared me for being black in the Philippines. I am probably the most oblivious person on the planet. I once walked in to a convenience store as it was being robbed, went shopping, and stood behind the robber impatiently waiting to be checked out. I didn’t realize what was happening until he turned around and told me to leave. However, I am always aware of my presence in any situation I walk into. I can tell within minutes of walking in to a room if people are staring at me and wondering why I am there. I never thought it was a big deal or even something to write about until I started hearing my fellow PCVs talk about their experience here were they were made aware of their race and in some cases their gender. This experience is just an extension of real life for me…
Filipinos are some of the nicest people, but they are keenly aware of western culture, which is why Nicki Minaj is my worst nightmare. So far over the last 15 months, I have been referred to as whichever black celebrity is on the TV at any given moment. As of now, I am Rihanna. Come January, when the new season of American Idol hits the Philippines..Aghh
Last year I did an HIV training. During the lunch break the students Youtubed the “Super Bass” video. It was my first time seeing the video and half way through the students started giving me this look. I suddenly felt all my credibility on the subject of responsible sexual choices slipping through my fingers as Miss Minaj gyrated on some dude in the dark..
Maybe Scandal will come to the Phils at the sometime. Instead of yelling ‘ Nicki’ at me as I walk down the street, maybe people will think I am Oliva Pope. I girl can only hope..
Peace and Mac and Cheese!