It was the author Norman Vincent Peale who said, "The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism." This quote perfectly describes most Filipinos that you'd think Peale had us in mind when he wrote it. We love compliments being thrown at us so much that we often exaggerate them. Some guy at a reality talent show in Siberia wowed the judges with his amazing pipes. Because the guy has a trickle of Filipino blood in him, we flooded his YouTube videos with proud-to-be-Pinoy comments complete with hashtags and excited emoticons.
But when someone either criticizes us or says something not too nice about us, holy Mary and Joseph, all hell breaks loose. We start typing tirades in Caps Lock. We watch as our Facebook news feeds roll endlessly with the tirades of our friends. Of course, they've also written theirs in Caps Lock. As icing on the cake, our government officials compete with each other as to who would be the first to file a resolution calling for the declaration of the critic as a persona non grata, an unwelcome person.
We Filipinos are also adept in criticizing other people. For sure, we can dish it. But we are lacking when it comes to taking it. Take for instance our rather enthusiastic fascination with declaring people as persona non grata. It has become our weapon of choice in trying to address people who have negative things to say about us.
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Our government officials declare individuals as persona non grata as if it's the most common thing to do. Gloria Diaz quipped that Cebuanas can hardly speak English and Tagalog. She was condemned and declared unwelcome in the province of Cebu. Just recently, comedian Ramon Bautista joked that there are so many hipons in Davao City. For those not in the loop, hipon is a slang term used to refer to a woman with an attractive body but an unattractive face. The charge that ensued to declare Bautista as an unwelcome person in the city was led by no other than Davao City vice-mayor Paolo Duterte himself.
We are even more passionate in voicing out our anger when the person who negatively criticizes us is a foreigner. Nobody outrages us more than a person from another race and another country calling us a no-good bunch of people. Even more woe to the critic if he/she happens to be a celebrity. The five people listed below have learned this the hard way.
5) Adam Carolla (comedian, radio host, actor)
Filipinos are passionately proud of their countrymen who make it big beyond the borders of the archipelago and they'll defend them to the ends of the earth if someone makes the mistake of saying something negative about them. American comedian and radio personality Adam Carolla made this mistake in 2010 when he lambasted boxer Manny Pacquiao (who is a national treasure in the Philippines) in an episode of a podcast that he hosts.
Carolla didn't hold back when he referred to the celebrated athlete as an illiterate, an idiot, having brain damage, and someone who worships chicken bones. He continued his rant by saying that the Philippines only got two things to be proud of - Manny Pacquiao and sex tours. Carolla made the statements during his podcast when the topic turned to Pacquaio's refusal to undergo drug testing ahead of a rumored bout with American boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Carolla's rant immediately went viral and it was covered by dozens of popular media outlets like Huffington Post and CNN. In the Philippines, it was top of the headlines. The immediate reaction by Filipinos was that of anger and teeth-gnashing. Top government officials also got involved and responded to the incident. The spokesman for then Philippine President Gloria Arroyo called Carolla an "ignorant fool".
Indeed, the rant by Carolla was nasty. However, most Filipinos seemed to have missed the fact that he is a comedian. This is what comedians do - exagerrate things, blow up things, and sometimes be untruthful to try to be funny. His comments about Pacquiao and the Philippines are not entirely true but they do carry some truth to them.
Part of Carolla's schtick is to be nasty and over the top in his criticisms. What he's done to Pacquiao and the Philippines, he has done to other countries like Mexico and his home country the United States. For a lot of comedians, it's part of their jobs to be provocative to try to be funny. Needless to say, Mexican and American reactions to his rants greatly pale in comparison to the outburst that came from Filipinos. After the barrage of comments that were sent his way, Carolla took to Twitter to apologize admitting that he crossed the line.
4) Teri Hatcher (actress, writer, presenter)
Even fictional characters in fictional television shows are not exempt from Filipino outrage if they mutter something negative about Filipinos. In 2007, actress Teri Hatcher who plays the character Susan Mayer on the hit television show Desperate Housewives, outraged the Filipino community when she muttered "Okay, before we go any further, can I check these diplomas? Just to make sure they aren't, like, from some med school in the Philippines." on the show.
The immediate reaction from Filipinos both here and abroad was nasty and swift. A Fil-Am artist named Kevin Nadal started an online petition which was able to gather nearly 100,000 signatures. A spokesman for then Philippine President Gloria Arroyo called the line a "racial slur". Many politicians including Senator Ramon Bong Revilla demanded an apology from the makers of the show. Even the Filipino consul based in Los Angeles wrote ABC (the company that produces and broadcasts the show) to defend medical schools in the Philippines. A lot of folks called for a boycott of the show.
The producers of Desperate Housewives eventually apologized and promised to edit out and remove the particular scene from future airings and DVD copies of the show. A lot of observers said that this apology shouldn't have been necessary as Susan Mayer is a fictional character. Her line on the show that outraged the Filipino community could've been just the prejudiced opinion of a character. We didn't see Koreans rising up in arms when Clint Eastwood insulted them over and over again in the movie Gran Torino, did we? No, we didn't.
3) Alec Baldwin (actor, producer, comedian)
In 2009, actor and comedian Alec Baldwin appeared as a guest on David Letterman's talk show. When asked by Letterman if he wanted more kids, Baldwin quipped that he was thinking of availing of a Filipino or Russian mail order bride. Outrage from Filipinos ensued.
It was a joke and a good one at that. But Filipinos took it rather too seriously and castigated the actor for it. They called for an apology. Senator Ramon Bong Revilla got into the picture and being the knee-jerk reactor that he is, he threatened that he will beat up Baldwin if he ever set foot in the Philippines. The Philippine Bureau of Immigration also issued an order that barred Baldwin from entering the country. This ban was still issued even when Baldwin apologized for his comments.
Baldwin apologized through an article he wrote that was posted on Huffington Post. In said article, Baldwin stated that he was only joking and that he's sorry to those who took offense.
The funny thing about this incident was the fact that in the joke, Baldwin mentioned two races - Filipinos and Russians. Filipinos rose up with their teeth gnashing. The Russians, well, they simply brushed it off. Maybe they got the joke. For those curious, a mail order bride does exist in the Philippines albeit it's done under the shadows because it's illegal here.
2) Justin Bieber (singer, songwriter)
In 2012, Manny Pacquiao fought his longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time. He was put to sleep in the sixth round with a well-timed punch from the Mexican. The Canadian pop star Justin Bieber who is a known supporter of Floyd Mayweather Jr. (another Pacquiao rival) went to Instagram and ridiculed Pacquiao with a series of photos mocking his knockout loss to Marquez.
With millions of followers on the site, Bieber's posts immediately went viral. Hell, they even reached the Philippine Congress. And here is what's mind boggling - seven lawmakers actually took the time to file a resolution demanding an apology from the singer or else he'll be declared a persona non grata. Basically, what these lawmakers said was that because Pacquiao is such a great sports hero, nobody is allowed to ridicule him in any way. If you do, you are to be banned in entering the country. As with Pacquiao himself, he brushed off Bieber's posts and said that he'll pray for him.
1) Claire Danes (actress)
Ah, Claire Danes, another poor actress who received a barrage of nasty comments for simply voicing out her observations about Filipinos and the Philippines. In 1998, Claire Danes spent several months in Manila to shoot scenes for the film Brokedown Palace. When she got back home in the United States, as actresses with upcoming movies always do, she got busy with interviews to talk about and promote Brokedown Palace which was eventually released the next year (1999). An interview in Vogue magazine and a quote of her on Premier magazine sparked a controversy that continues to hound her to this day.
Danes got a lot of backlash when she described Manila as a "ghastly and weird city" in a Vogue magazine interview. She followed this up with more negative comments about the city in an interview with Premier magazine. She told Premier that Manila "smelled of cockroaches." The budding actress added that "There’s no sewage system in Manila, and people have nothing there. People with, like, no arms, no legs, no eyes, no teeth."
With such biting criticisms from the actress, what did Filipinos do? They got angry. The Manila city council declared Danes a persona non grata and banned all of her movies from being shown in the city. Even Joseph Estrada, then President of the Philippines stuck his head into the picture. He agreed with the ban issued by the Manila city council and he was quoted as saying that Danes shouldn't be allowed to set foot in the Philippines.
Danes soon issued a public apology statement but this did not seem to appease those that was hurt by her comments. Kim Atienza who was then a city councilor dismissed Danes' apology calling it "not genuine" and an "excuse made by Hollywood press officers". The controversy soon died down but we're not sure if the ban on her from entering the country has been lifted or not.
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