The Wily Filipino redux

For everyone with a bee in their bonnet over TV show statements, take a deep breath, relax (you’re in distinguished company, Filipinos from generatons past have vigorously protested what they perceived as disparaging slights in Hollywood), and read this marvelous essay from someone who managed to be funny and affectionate about Filipinos:

It’s the essay The Wily Filipino, by Steve Martin:

In Search of the Wily Filipino
By Steve Martin

“We’ve seen the slit-eyed dangerous Jap, we have seen the wily Filipino…” – Marlon Brando discussing movies on “Larry King Live.”

The wily Filipino. How often have I gone to bed at night with that phrase echoing through my head. And yet I only recently became aware that I had actually never seen one. I had driven through Filipino neighborhoods, and everyone and everything I saw appeared to be straightforward. Signs for this or that – the dry cleaner’s, and auto-repair – all seemed innocuous but probably hid a true guile lurking beneath. I wondered under what circumstances the wiliness would come out.

I have worked with a Filipino for several years, and I decided upon a little test. I asked her what she would do if she saw a traffic accident and someone was wandering around looking dazed. “I would stop and help, I suppose,” she said.

“Why?” I asked. “To get something?”

She looked at me. “What would you do – call for help and wait for it to show up?” I realized that she was invoking the stereotype of the benign and polite Wasp, and I recoiled. I was so upset that it almost made me want to be angry.

I decided to rent movies where I might examine the portrayal of the Filipino. I watched “The Godfather,” “2001,” and “Gone with the Wind.” There wasn’t a single depiction of a wily Filipino. Why? Perhaps the movie industry is secretly run by Filipinos. Perhaps it is they who have been the hidden hand behind such films as “The Logical Filipino” (1986), “The Straight-Up Guy from Manila” (1993), and the adventure classic “Deep in Wily Laos” (1995). And if that were true wouldn’t it demonstrate unquestionable guile?

A friend of mind told me about a sensational Filipino acupuncturist. I called to make an appointment. “What seems to be the problem?” a deceptively pleasant voice asked on the other end of the line. “I… I…” I hadn’t quite worked out this part of the plan. “I… I…” I hung up. Thirty seconds later the phone rang. There was no one there. I thought nothing of it, then recognized the craftiness at work: Caller ID! The wily Filipino had called me back using caller ID, and now had my number! Fearing reprisal, I phoned again and booked an appointment.

I entered the office and sat in the waiting lounge. Waiting for what, I wondered. Probably waiting to be outfoxed, one way or another. The assistant asked me to fill out a form. She cleverly slid the sheet toward me and artfully offered me a pen. I filled it out as I listened to the coded dialogue going on in the office. Common inquiries about the weather were no longer empty pleasantries; they were complexly structured sentences in which the first letter of every word combined to spell out my mother’s maiden name. Once inside the office, I started using words with the doctor and his nurse that were uniquely American – words like “cahoots.” I wanted to see their reaction. I got none. Well, just one – a look so wily I shuddered.

Then this exchange happened:

“It says here you want treatment for parvo.”

“Yes,” I countered. This game was rough.

“Parvo is a dog disease.”

The lakes of perspiration on my forehead instantly beaded into a map of Michigan.

“Yes,” I replied. “I’m worried that my dog may have it.”

“So you’re here for anxiety? You want me to treat you for worry?”

This was not just idle sparring between worthy foes. This was a coded chess play of words, a dazzling display of cunning.

The needles went in. Four in my ears. Three in my scalp. Some were twisted by hand. Some had electric current sent thought them. Ten minutes later, they were removed, and I felt a remarkable calm. The tables had been turned. The wily Filipino had allayed my anxiety, and now I was indebted to him. He had won. I had anticipated wiles of some form, but never suspected that they would be at this level of sophistication.

I returned home and turned on the television. “Larry King Live” was still on:

“… the luckless Italian, the furtive Chilean, the horny Hawaiian, the pungent Norwegian, the strict Eskimo, the loud-talking Canadian -”

“We’re running out of time,” Larry said, and the show came to a close.

I needed to get away. I packed my bags, booked a ticket on WILY (the official Filipino airline), and fled to Hawaii.

* From The New Yorker, July 6, 1998.

See my Inquirer Current entry on the same article. Scholarly articles, too, such as You’re a Better Filipino than I Am, John Wayne: World War II, Hollywood, and U.S.-Philippines Relations by Charles V. Hawley, and What to Show the World: The Office of War Information and Hollywood, 1942-1945 by Clayton R. Koppes, Gregory D. Black. One incident mentioned in one of these articles is mentioned in turn, in Why & So What Now? -an official protest by Philippine officials to Hollywood in the 1930s.

And as Torn & Frayed in Manila points out -the hullaballoo was over a work of… fiction.

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    • vic on October 7, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Where do I belong, a wily Filipino or a loud-talking Canadian? I can claim both, but never been a wily Filipino yet, instead, it was me who had been wily willied by others. For being loud talking, most hearing impaired individual talk loud and believing it just norm. But this is more truer to Filipinos than being wily, loud talking, just observed US talking to others sitting besides us as if they are across the street. But some nationalities even talk louder. And I don’t want to mention any other than my own, lest I get tagged as “racist” ( then I’d rather be both a wily Filipino and a loud-talking Canadian than a racist) as I am both Filipino as well as Canadian…

  1. Disparaging slights or not, I think we Filipinos are more sensitive re these slights bec we as a nation, has yet to establish itself as a secure country that can just laugh off jokes made at our expense.

    Notice the reaction of the Aquino family re the Daily Show jabs at fmr pres. Cory Aquino. Contrast that with fmr pres. and first wives of the US. These personalities are made fun of, day in and day out at that same show, yet these personalities just take it in stride.

    there’s a landmark case in the US. it’s been made into a film. i’m talking abt The People vs Larry Flynt. it set the parameters of free speech, which protects US gag shows today. so shows like Jon Stewart can go on ridiculing public figures on the grounds that satire is guaranteed the 1st ammendment.

    i think the only real defense people who are made fun of in these shows can make is either to laugh it off as just a joke w/o a shred of truth or just plainly prove the allegations wrong. either way, over reacting will not help repudiate the slights any better. it’ll only make us look more defensive, as if the jokes made at our expense have a shred of truth in it.

    kind of like a roomful of people and then someone farted. the first one to cry out “not me” is usually the culprit. learn to take the jokes in stride, and if you want to get even, make jokes abt them as well. all in good taste, to prove theirs more distasteful.

    in the end, we Filipinos have a perfect advice for ourselves: ang pikon, TALO.

    • Willy on October 7, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    It’s a cheap joke, not quite funny really. Deserves
    severe reprimand. But maybe some reactions are over-the-top. Filipinos really have lots more things they should be highly upset about, but choose to make a waay big kind of overblown fuss about these type of bad jokes. Maybe this kind of widespread indignation should get directed where it counts.

  2. In the Desperate Housewives brouhaha, I blamed the writer for the slur. Obviously, the writer is ignorant of the US stringent screening of the non-US University graduates to take their local examinations.

    Steve Martin is a comedian, a novelist and a writer. This essay once again proved that some writer don’t do their 1. homework before writing the first parahraph.

    1.WILY-the airline carrier that he said brought him to Hawaii-
    That must be Philippine Airlines which at that time, suffering from Asian financial crisis starting the year 1998,cut back its number of flights including that which services the East Coast /Philippines via Vancouver. The fleet was reduced from over 50 to 20, discontinuing routes.

    In June 1998, the labor dispute paralyzed the operations for three weeks when the air personnel held the strike, followed by the ground personnel in July 1998.

    Even if it happened in 1997, Philippine Air Lines do not fly domestic within the US. US mainland to Hawaii is domestic.

    How do I know, from 1997 to 2000 I was connected with a travel consolidator and PAL was one of our accounts. What is a travel consolidator? It is a travel agency of travel agencies. Travel consolidator deals directly with aircline companies. Ordinary travel agencies can not just do that because of some IATA rulings and modes of payments.

    Signs for this or that – the dry cleaner’s, and auto-repair.

    I have been here in the States for that long and I haven’t met a Filipino-owned dry cleaner. It’s a Chinese business where they have been known as experts in this kind of business for a long time.

    Car repairs are mostly owned by Hispanic. Convenience stores are either owned by Indians or immigrants from the Middle East.

    Filipinos are known to operate board and care and nursing homes. Mostly the owners-operators are nurses or doctors who keep the hospital jobs for their insurance and 401k.

    The assistant asked me to fill out a form. She cleverly slid the sheet toward me and artfully offered me a pen.

    Since I was diagnosed with C, I learned a lot from keeping appointments with specialists,clinics and hospitals.

    The wily Filipino referred to by the writer isn’t wily at all.

    If it is not emergency,appointments are made long enough to send you some papers to fill up so you’re ready by the time you report for the appointment.What’s in the forms?

    First, if you’re just new,there is the introduction of the services,the office hours, and the statement that they are board certified.

    Second is the inquiry about the medical history, complaints and the medications being taken.

    And the most important thing is the insurance coverage or who is going to be responsible for the payment.

    During the consultation,the form signed is the authority for release of record.

    So what’s ,my take about the article, it’s all crap.

  3. willy, how right you are. you don’t see this kind of widespread indignation abt the governing of our country, perfidies of local govt officials, and even slights of city hall clerks.

    Filipinos’ sense of being offended is warped.

    • rom on October 7, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    i think devilsadvoc8 got it. we’re too sensitive because we’re so insecure about our worth.

    • mlq3 on October 7, 2007 at 11:14 pm
      Author

    um, guys, the piece of steve martin was a brilliant piece of satire, making fun of stereotypes. he starts off with some loopy string of ethnic slurs marlon brando rattled off on larry king, and ran with it to its absurd conclusion -which is, that his piece is a very affectionate defense of filipinos and how he couldn’t find fault with any filipino he’s encountered. however hard he tried. of course the whole thing is exaggerated for comic effect.

  4. I’m sorry Manolo. I just can’t get it. waah! perhaps its bec I’m not familiar with whatever Marlon Brando said on Larry King, perhaps my mind isn’t just wired for that kind of very subtle satire, or perhaps among the films he listed, the only one I saw was Godfather (and even that I dnt remember having any cast of Filipino/s in it). I do get his humor starting with the anecdote abt the acupuncturist, the caller id, and so on. what I dnt get is why he calls PAL – WILY.

    God! You must think me so uncouth! oh, well. the only satire i truly enjoy is Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. and THAT isn’t subtle. lols.

    • BrianB on October 8, 2007 at 12:24 am

    @mlq3,

    Yes, some people just don’t get Steve Martin.

    • cvj on October 8, 2007 at 12:26 am

    I watched that segment again and if you analyze the context, it was actually a compliment to Cory Aquino to be included in the same league as Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher. The problem is, i think the older generation of Filipinos is a bit satire impaired. They want compliments to be phrased exactly as compliments and insults phrased exactly as insults. Anything deviating from this is to complicated for them.

    • cvj on October 8, 2007 at 12:29 am

    sorry, above should be ‘too complicated’.

    • BrianB on October 8, 2007 at 12:32 am

    cvj,

    I’ve been saying this for ten years. Filipinos in general are “irony-impaired.” My exact words. I think a lot of people were offended.

    • BrianB on October 8, 2007 at 12:34 am

    “Filipinos are so stupid.” – bunch of anonymous filipino politicians.

    You know, they got a point.

    • pilipinoparin on October 8, 2007 at 1:05 am

    concur with mlq3, steve martin’s piece is all satire.also agree with most of cat’s points above about on how a person gets a medical appointment in non emergency setting. in fact, in my wife’s place, the front desk personnel have to tell the new patient to wait for months to get the first appointment, even the hospital personnel/officials have to wait, if not an emegency case, they keep track of the appointments using softwares in pcs. the preliminaries as mentioned by cat are done by phone, fax, internet or mail.

    devils,rom, about the insecure thing, very rarely you meet pilipinos who who are insecure (based on what i experienced). they can take all the jokes, satire, in the right setting, context. we watch all the jokers/comedians here from arsenio hall, to jay leno, david letterman (i like jay’s style better than david)to conan. pilipinos enjoy life most of the time despite some shortcomings, we are one of the most lively people on earth! however, there are times when we have to take note of some “hidden agenda” if seemingly harmless words are said not in the right setting, say when they are talking about the delicate health condition of a gyn patient. it is like what you hear from the fat guy, michael moore or some straight talking guys like in the seven o’clock news.if jay mentioned a barage of things about pilipinos in his show or letterman mentioned a joke about us as being his numero uno, then it is in the right setting, right context…all are said in jest.

    btw devil, we in our group have nothing to worry about where we came from. we think we had good training in metro manila and our adopted places here. we survived eight years post high school in mm during the most dangerous time of our country’s history…during macoy’s infamous martial law rule. bencard will surely agree with me. even though our group is less involved during the pre martial law demos compared to bencard’s. you know the lawyers, law students were on the front lines from rotunda, espana, morayta to mendiola…our group are just mere supporters (maybe differences in courses).

    • vic on October 8, 2007 at 1:32 am

    There are times that it will take some individual from the outside looking in to point some of our defects. The best course of action is to first analyse the “message” and the individual or medium conveying the message and the intention, whether malicious or sincere. As for the Steve Martin satire, I agree with Manolo it was done in good taste and with noble intentions, and it was done partly in defense of the Filipino non-wilyness…

  5. BrianB, buti na lang wala si BenignO. tumalon na sana yon sa tuwa at nagsisigaw ng “i told you so!”

    me punto naman sana si BenignO. di lang nga appreciated ang mga suhestyon nya dahil masyado syang crass (for lack of a better word). i disagree with most of his views, but i do see the points he was trying to make. which were all valid – up to a point.

    • BrianB on October 8, 2007 at 1:55 am

    I was being ironic, can’t you tell.

    You know, irony is a good alibi.

  6. @mlq3,

    Yes, some people just don’t get Steve Martin.

    Yeah for me, I can not get the humor because they are far from reality.

    • cvj on October 8, 2007 at 2:33 am

    I like Steve Martin best in L.A. Story.

  7. Devils,

    Agree: “Disparaging slights or not, I think we Filipinos are more sensitive re these slights bec we as a nation, has yet to establish itself as a secure country that can just laugh off jokes made at our expense.”

  8. cvj, i think i like all of Steve Martin’s films. Well, those that I’ve watched anyway. The one I liked best was the one wherein his daughter was getting married. Forgot its title. It had a sequel, which I also liked.

    MBW, i think it applies generally to everyone who’s insecure. whether it be about their physical or character traits.

    BrianB, lols. sarcasm can be a better alibi in my opinion. it’s irony, directed agst someone.

  9. devils.
    so you are one of those ignorant of how the US screen professionals and so you blame those diploma mills too.

    And you are indirectly accusing the ineptness of the US system of checking the credentials of the professionals who would like to practice professionally in the US that some medical school graduates are wily enough to pass the MLE wtih fake credentials, worse from University of Recto.

    Because the writer is also so stupid to write that script which is impossible to happen.

    And you laugh at Steve Martin’s article where he wrote slinky eyed JAP. For your information the Japanese also demand to stop using that label because they considered it slur racial.

    It is easy to say, you are not hurt because you may not have experienced being discriminated and being politely labeled DORK with a smile.

    The Fil-ams have to claim other ethnicity just to be cast in the movie. Tia Carerre had to claim European parentage when she was Ilocana,etc.

    So much low self-esteem of Filipino people that they will be the first to say amen when they’re insulted, nagpapasalamat pa. (rolleyes) , recite the sins of their fathers and fault find to everything we do just to justfiy the insult.

    And I remember MLQ3, the reason why I admire your grandfather because he foresaw what kind of life the Filipinos will have as second class citizens if we will be under the US.Because as a delegate and member of commissions sent to the US before he became the President,he personally observed the discrimination .

  10. Brianb,

    If you think that is a good defense put up by Steve MArtin as a satire, take a look again.

    His desription of a Filipino fits more of the Chinese.

    The dry cleaner, the acupuncture practice are more associated with Chinese people.

    I don’t see any Filipino trait that he wrote that best describe the Filipinos. Practically he’s saying that he’s Pinoys are INVISIBLE because they don’t assert themselves, they hide their ethnicity and they keep quiet when insulted.

  11. Cat, just to set you straight: (jz add the missing http) http://www.quezon.ph/?p=1527#comment-594966

    and diploma mills? our country’s so full of them. exactly why the US is so stringent in screening our professionals. you don’t see them practicing the same kind of discrimination against western medical grads.

    you do know the stink of CHED right now, don’t you? allowing so many fly by night schools to continue operating and offering nursing courses even when the quality of their educational standards are very questionable. computer schools offering nursing? cmon! and if I remember right, a certain CHED official resigned because of this.

    and you question why our medical professionals are discriminated? naturally. prove the trustworthiness of our schools and our documents by regulating these schools and erasing the stigma of Recto and these “perceptions” and biases americans have of us will slowly vanish.

    as I said, the best retort or comeback we can give, is to PROVE THEM WRONG.

    and I don’t know why you think I laughed at the part wherein Martin wrote slinky eyed jap. I don’t even get half of what he wrote.

    “It is easy to say, you are not hurt because you may not have experienced being discriminated and being politely labeled DORK with a smile.”

    I’ve been called DORK lots of times. seen those condescending smiles of people who thought DORKINESS was a curse.

    it all depends upon how you view yourself. so for you, being labeled a DORK is demeaning. for me, it was just satisfying. A recognition people give me that I am brainier than them. Seems a compliment to me.

    that’s not the only discrimination I’ve experienced. I know how americans view us. worked at a call center, you know. had american bosses, and american customers. the condescencion I had to endure that you think I don’t know abt? yeah, i’ve experienced it.

    it just made me more secure of myself. knowing that I know more abt their culture and their country than they can possibly know abt us. it shows them up as ignorant, not us.

    that’s right. it shows everyone who discriminates as ignorant. that’s why i can just laugh off whatever jibes foreigners may say abt Filipinos. bec I know we are better than what they think abt us.

    It’s easy to say I am not hurt because I know it’s not true. And even for the bad things said abt us, which are TRUE, still does not annoy me. Why? Bec they’re true!

    Best revenge? Success. Best comeback? prove them wrong. or you can do what others are doing. WHINE.

    i’d rather get my revenge than appear more idiotic by whining uselessly.

  12. forget the http. di mo na pala kailangan.

    • renmin on October 8, 2007 at 8:32 am

    mlq3 :

    um, guys, the piece of steve martin was a brilliant piece of satire, making fun of stereotypes. he starts off with some loopy string of ethnic slurs marlon brando rattled off on larry king, and ran with it to its absurd conclusion -which is, that his piece is a very affectionate defense of filipinos and how he couldn’t find fault with any filipino he’s encountered. however hard he tried. of course the whole thing is exaggerated for comic effect.

    It’s hilarious–and telling–that you felt compelled to explain Steve Martin’s piece. As illustrated by the Daily Show mini-brouhaha, Pinoys don’t dig irony.

    • indoro ni emilie on October 8, 2007 at 8:53 am

    we live in hyperspace. two-dimensional people can live in rulers.

    • supremo on October 8, 2007 at 9:46 am

    “The one I liked best was the one wherein his daughter was getting married. Forgot its title. It had a sequel, which I also liked.”

    Father of the Bride 1 and 2. Phoebe Cates was originally cast as the daughter.

    • cvj on October 8, 2007 at 9:49 am

    You just can’t lose with Phoebe Cates in the cast.

    • hvrds on October 8, 2007 at 10:21 am

    I have it on good authority that Terri Hatcher was once treated by a Filipino surgeon. (I do not like imposing on my relationships with other people)Reality is always more complex than fiction.

    I can almost bet my monthly income that she did not relate the person that treated her to a Filipino from the Philippines. Filipino-Americans in the U.S. have no real (racial)(Filipino) identity in the U.S. since they consider themselves Americans. Even their accents change when they are in the States. I find it funny because whenever I meet a Pinoy in the States I switch to Taglish or Tagalog and I always almost get a response in broken American accent. One of my regrets is not being able to speak in fluent Tagalog and I find that in my later years am trying to make attempts to speak it more. I believe languages should be taught in grade school. In spite of being on the American scene years before other Asian countries Pinoys have not been able to break into mainstream American consciousness such as (Asian) Indians have done in the last ten years.

    Hawaiian natives have the opposite problem integrating themselves in American society. They do not consider themselves Americans.

    It is always difficult for observers to separate themselves from what they are observing. Pinoys seem to have a problem of self-esteem about their being from these islands when they are in the States.

    • Jon Mariano on October 8, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Cat was funnier interpreting Steve Martin’s piece than the piece itself! How’s that in Tagalog? Nagmukhang katawa-tawa?

    • Jeg on October 8, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Steve Martin I think is better as a writer than as a movie star I think. Pure Drivel (where The Wily Filipino also appears) is one the most re-read books in my library.

    Im with renmin. The fact that MLQ3 had to explain the Martin piece is… ‘funny’ isnt the right word. The word Im looking for is ‘disappointing’.

    (what I dnt get is why he calls PAL – WILY.

    He didnt call PAL WILY. He called WILY WILY. WILY is the national airline in the piece, calling attention to the ‘wily Filipino’.)

    • Willy on October 8, 2007 at 11:52 am

    I guess satire/ irony hasn’t really caught on in the Filipino psyche.I don’t think we even have local terminology for this. Public officials seem to be catching on though, wittingly or unwittingly. Problem is, it’s hard to tell which way.

  13. Don’t assume that the DH scriptwriter is ignorant. He is most probably just writing Susan in character. She is supposed to be ditzy and ignorant. The accuracy of her line of dialog is irrelevant to the story, the point is that she thinks Philippine (or any 3rd world) schools are bad.

    Further in the episode the Harvard graduate misdiagnoses her.

    And satire, whew, good luck explaining that. Appreciating TDS not only requires a knowledge of satire, but also an awareness of US pop culture. To fully understand Samantha Bee’s segment you’d need to be familiar with “Sex and the City,” the US stereotype of women as shoppers, the internet and perezhilton, conservative commentators, and probably a bunch of other, more obscure references.

    • Jeg on October 8, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    I guess satire/ irony hasn’t really caught on in the Filipino psyche.I don’t think we even have local terminology for this.

    I think the term ‘kuwentong kutsero’ used to be the local term for satire. However it transmogrified to mean ‘unfounded rumor’. Probably because satire/irony hasnt really caught on in the Filipino psyche.

    • cvj on October 8, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    The irony is, the Americans are themselves lacking in a sense of irony (e.g. when compared to the Brits).

  14. mlq3 :

    um, guys, the piece of steve martin was a brilliant piece of satire, making fun of stereotypes. he starts off with some loopy string of ethnic slurs marlon brando rattled off on larry king, and ran with it to its absurd conclusion -which is, that his piece is a very affectionate defense of filipinos and how he couldn’t find fault with any filipino he’s encountered. however hard he tried. of course the whole thing is exaggerated for comic effect.

    It’s hilarious–and telling–that you felt compelled to explain Steve Martin’s piece. As illustrated by the Daily Show mini-brouhaha, Pinoys don’t dig irony. – renmin

    The way I see it, Steve Martin’s piece was more of a swipe at Marlon Brando than “an affectionate defense of Filipinos.”

    Here’s the full quote of Brando in Larry Ling Live in April 1996 that Steve Martin was reacting to:
    “Hollywood is run by Jews. It is owned by Jews, and they should have a greater sensitivity about the issue of people who are suffering because they’ve exploited [them]. We have seen the Nigger and Greaseball. We’ve seen the Chink. We’ve seen the slit-eyed dangerous Jap. We have seen the wily Filipino. We’ve seen everything, but we never saw the Kike, because they knew perfectly well that is where you draw the wagons around.” It was a reprise of what Brando said in Playboy in 1979

    Nigger, Chink, and Jap we are quite familiar with, Greaseball refers to Americans of Latin, Italian and Mediterranean descent and Kike is another ethnic slur for Jews. But wily Filipinos? No such animal . . . that I suppose was Steve Martin’s point (which the title of the essay betrays: “In search of the wily Filipino”). And then Martin proceeded to rub it in by exaggeration to discredit Brando as if to argue that Filipinos aren’t important enough to be in the league of the Chinese, the Japanese, the Italians and the Jews. There’s no such movie or nothing to his knowledge or experience, Steve Martin clearly pointed out, that has stereotyped the Filipinos as “wily,” so how the hell Brando coined the “wily Filipino”? Maybe simple, pristine, innocent, unsullied (or Kiplingishly “half-devil, half-child”), but not “wily” for that seemed an upgrade.

    So, the rant of Brando (who, aside from being an award-winning actor, was also an activist) against the Jews, the essay appeared to suggest, was as unfounded as Brando’s brew of the “wily Filipino” or those still-to-be-hackneyed “the luckless Italian, the furtive Chilean, the horny Hawaiian, the pungent Norwegian, the strict Eskimo, the loud-talking Canadian.”

    My guess where Brando had encountered the “wily Filipino” could be during the filming of the Apocalypse Now in the Philippines two decades before the Larry King interview. I remember reading then certain accounts about Francis Ford Coppola complaining that Filipinos were taking advantage of the production of the film in Philippines and were “outfoxing” the crew: from the nickling and diming by Filipino generals to rent army choppers for the “helicopter scene” to Igorot extras overpricing their service.

    Thus, as The Cat has indicated, had Steve Martine been a bit more diligent (in defending the Jews), he would have avoided the comic slipups of equating Filipinos with Mexicans, Chinese, Koreans or Middle-Easterners and known that the law of supply and demand is well within the sophistication of Filipinos, as Brando and Coppola had found out.

    • rom on October 8, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    pilipinoparin:i beg to differ, uncle. insecurity doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live a miserable life. you can be lively and still be insecure. and we are. you insist on there being the right setting for certain jokes. well, who determines what the right setting is? and who determines what jokes are appropriate for a a particular set of circumstances? being lively only means that most of the time, our insecurities aren’t touched on. which is, really, a roundabout definition for your “right joke in the right setting” theory: it is the right joke in the right setting if it doesn’t touch on the filipino’s insecurity. For instance, that housewives joke. If we Filipinos were secure in our medical prowess, what would that joke have mattered? the fact is, most filipinos feel that that slight might ruin our reputation as med professionals. Is our reputation then that fragile, that a stupid throwaway joke can damage it? We know we’re good, but we’re not sure that everybody knows it. and that’s insecurity.

    • rom on October 8, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    btw:wasn’t brando married (or something) to a filipino? maybe that’s where he got the impression that filipinos are wily, and just kinda projected it to the jews he was ranting about. anyway, as slurs go, wily isn’t so bad. In asia, one equivalent would be subtle.

    • DevilsAdvc8 on October 8, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Tnx Abe. That was thorough. Now I get it.

  15. “Wily Filipino?” I think I’ve seen his kind during the campaign period of an election year, doing any or all of the following:

    1. Kissing babies

    2. Shaking hands with the ‘masa'( and secretly nodding to his or her aide to bring the rubbing alcohol over so he or she could cleanse his or her hands from all that handshaking.)

    3. Conjuring imaginative ways in buying votes.

    4. Claiming that he or she came from humble beginnings to garner some sort of rapport with the audience.

    5. fill in the blank___________. 🙂

    He or she can be seen on
    nation-wide t.v. during Congressional inquiries, asking the same questions over and over again to some poor ‘resource persons’ and other ‘willing or unwilling guests’ in aid of legislation,right? Duh.

    Actually he or she is after the media mileage. You know, to get into the public consciousness;
    and all of that’s in preparation for the next elections of course.
    Think of all that money saved from hiring PR firms.

    …or maybe I’m just imagining things.

  16. and diploma mills? our country’s so full of them. exactly why the US is so stringent in screening our professionals. you don’t see them practicing the same kind of discrimination against western medical grads.

    I do not deny that there are no diploma mills in the Philippines as there are many correspondence schools in the US that churn diplomas/certificates for all kinds of degrees, Masteral in Divinity included.

    But of course they will be stricter for non-US graduates because they have to find out if the curricular program and the course desctiptions and the course coverage match those of their programs. It is not discrimination. It is a standard process that even we observe for transferees from other schools or from other countries.

    This is to find out if they qualify to take the licensure exams given by the US professional organizations. For doctors, it is not only one, they have to take at least two.

    The nurses who go to the US takes three tests, our local, the CGFNS (now some States remove the requirement, the NCLEX).

    Tell me, if a diploma mill graduate would pass the screening?

    Non-medical/healthecare professionals from the Philippines are given reciprocity to practice their profession even if they do not take the local examinations, like lawyers.

    If it does not tell of the standard of our school what will?

    Just try to bring your children with you here and enroll them in the public or private school and see them awe their classmates.

    I know CHEd and do you know that for the last two years, the Ched chairman is conducting an audit of these so-called fly-by night schools.I should know the former chairman was urging me to come back to the Philippines to help in the audit. He was the one who trained me in putting up schools, preparing curricular programs. Pity that his position was just good for one year and the last year was a hold -over.

    AMA is just a name and they started offering non-computer degrees long before they offered nursing. The name of the school is irrelevant since that’s the business business name, a trademark if it is business. It is the facilities and the teaching staff which matters i.e. if those who are teaching have their bachelors and masteral degrees.

    The school of vocational nurses here in the US that I put up have produced lots of graduates since 1997. And I can tell you that the Filipinos wherever they are outperform students from other countries.

    If you have this observation, you cannot be humble not to say something on the cheap shots about our educational standards.

  17. btw:wasn’t brando married (or something) to a filipino? maybe that’s where he got the impression that filipinos are wily, and just kinda projected it to the jews he was ranting about. anyway, as slurs go, wily isn’t so bad. In asia, one equivalent would be subtle.

    Marlon Brando’s caregiver was a Filipina to whom he bequathed a real property in his will. It turned that he was wily enough to do this in order to hold on to the caregiver who’s the only left to take care of him. His children and former wives did not care about him.

    After his death, the executor did not award to this property since all properties of Marlon Brando was in a trust. MB knew this all along because that was his way to avoid taxes.

    • DevilsAdvc8 on October 8, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    Cat, call it cheap shots and what you will. the fact is, you didn’t even bother to read the link i’ve posted. that alone tells a lot of why you still have that false perception you have of me.

    that i am “one of those ignorant of how the US screen professionals and so I blame those diploma mills too,” and that i am “indirectly accusing the ineptness of the US system of checking the credentials of the professionals who would like to practice professionally in the US…”

    you don’t have to detail the process to me. i have a VisaScreen Cat. yes. certified by CGFNS. my educational credentials are verified by FCCPT, another independent US body. so yes, I’m secure I didn’t graduate from a diploma mill.

    told you, you shuda read first that link.

    alert! foot in the mouth, foot in the mouth!

  18. For instance, that housewives joke. If we Filipinos were secure in our medical prowess, what would that joke have mattered?

    The insecurity here is not an issue. The issue is that TV is a powerful medium that can influence people who have little
    knowledge about the Philippines and the US system of screening professionals.

    It is also the time that Filipinos starting to assert their rights. As I have said Filipinos are INVISIBLE in the United States. So many have brought that false humility value that even if people have already stepped on their toes, they still smile. People here will respect you if you assert your right even if you’re a criminal. So cut it out justifying that we are guilty of this and we are guilty of that so we desereve this insult. Quit your Catholic guilt. If it is wrong, say so, no ifs, buts.

    • DevilsAdvc8 on October 8, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    “Just try to bring your children with you here and enroll them in the public or private school and see them awe their classmates.”

    and oh, just so you know, my sisters are starting college in New York. they were initially told that they will have a hard time enrolling in exclusive schools there (prolly coz they weren’t US schooled) they showed their grades and the school administrator jz gawked at them and stammered “in this case, they’ll have no problems at all.”

    told ya i know all abt biases westerners have of us, Cat. if you want, i could go on.

    abt AMA, are they making the cut for required percentage of board passers? a lot of vocational nursing schools can’t even produce one single board passer.

    “And I can tell you that the Filipinos wherever they are outperform students from other countries.”

    then we have no need to worry abt our medical professionals’ ability being in question now, should we? all we have to do is point out this fact at foreigners and put them straight.

    still insecure? i know i aint.

  19. Cat was funnier interpreting Steve Martin’s piece than the piece itself! How’s that in Tagalog? Nagmukhang katawa-tawa?

    Ako nakakatawa? Guess what, you didn’t get what’s funny with Steve Martin?

    He was trying to defend a Filipino when he was really talking about was a Chinese.

    Parang sa eksena sa korte na sinasabi niyang walang sala, ang kaniyang kliyente na akala niya ay Filipino and only to be told by the judge that he is a Chinese. Now that’s funnier. hahaha

  20. I’ve read that. And one thing with Filipinos is that they criticize the system as long as they exclude themselves. I read your blog.

    Yon ang isang ayaw ko doon sa isang forum na the commenter even continued to say Kayong mga Filipino. para bang hindi siya Pilipino.

    I did not also graduate from a diploma mill but the diploma mill is not even an issue here. It’s only the Filipino bloggers who made this as a reason to justify the insult.. sort of we deserve this insult because… we are guilty of this …because…we have brought it to ourselves…gawddd what a reasoning.

    As i have said if ever there is a need to overhaul the educational system, it is more of adding plenty of units for character building and that is SELF-ESTEEM and nationalism– and what I mean is not only talking in Tagalog.

    This writer may not even have this info about this and we are offering the information. Kung may kaso ito talo na. We are prosecuting ourselves.

  21. de Quiros echoes my sentiments.

    I made a a a blog about this DH, days before the Johnny come latelies “overreacted” when I discussed how a business magnate in the Philippines supposed to be assassinated in Manila, Philipines was portrayed in a movie where Pierce (James Bond) starred. The billionaire business magnate was buying some fruits in a talipapa (that is Manila for you) without bodyguards, garbed like Vietnamese. The peole around are also sporting the cone-shaped hat(the salakot of Vietnamese)and the talipapa
    are full of products in the Philippines. There was even a restaurant with a sign Ristorante. Obviously, it was filmed in Mexico but the portrayal of Filipinos and that of business magnate (haaah) even Lucio Tan who is known to
    interview cigarette vendors incognito would not dare walk in a talipapa somewhere in Manila , not even in the congested Chinatown.

    So what am I saying, people should not be believing what writers (no matter who the f…they are) if you believe that you know the facts better. And that as PT, you know better but you choose to exempt yourself because you think that is more of diploma mill that inspired the writer to write the slur. No honey, it’s ignorance.

    I did not link with anybody, I did not mention any authority because I always see to it that whatever my opinion is, it’s all mine. I do not care if it is not popular as long as it is mine.

    And that is another serious flaw in our curriculum, we go by the popular opinion instead of looking for facts, leaving ourselves merely parroting other people; looking for somebody who share our sentiments to be more confident that we are right.

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