Mr. Steve Macon and the “Balat Sibuyas” Attitude of “Pinoys…”

Note from the editor: This article is in response to Filipinos are NOT rude to foreigners unless, we have to be. (In response to Mr Steven Macon)  written and submitted on November 29, 2011. This would be the final opinion article regarding the issue being discussed.

I honestly think that Mr. Steve Macon is definitely exaggerating and being insensitive to us pinoys especially to his wife and his neighbors back in Cebu. I, however, being the critical mind that I’am, would still want to give my two cents on the matter. I have read both Macon’s article and Joadobo’s response to the seemingly less thought and maliciously written piece of the retired American who currently resides in Cebu together with his Filipina wife of 21 years. It’s a shame that an American has the guts to spew hurting words against Filipinos but seeing things from his perspective, the man has some valid points. I think that due  to our long history of being colonized by the Westerners (including Americans), we have developed a sort of love-hate relationship towards the people of the white race. Admit it or not, many of us see Americans or any white looking foreigner as a walking pile of dollars. This kind of mindset makes people believe that since these foreigners are loaded with money, the opportunity for profit would be that easy. Even some balikabayans are not safe from evil scheming taxi drivers and airport personnel when they come home and walk out of the airport. I suppose some Filipinos are innately greedy to the extent of trying to extort money out of hardworking OFW’s. It’s probably the little salary that they get that forces them to do such things but our idea that “white” foreigners have tons of cash is outright misconstrued. Sure they come to the Philippines with enough cash and because  of the exchange rate, they get more peso out of their dollars but it doesn’t mean that they have millions of dollars in their bank accounts.

The main problem really is our ingrained colonial mentality and that idea that the whites of the West are superior and richer than us brown Filipinos. While it’s true that Western countries are far richer than our beloved archipelago and are much developed than our poor country of 7,000 islands, it’s still a fact that poor people exist in every country in the world. Some may not be poor but are middle class and wouldn’t have tons of dollars at their disposal.  It is therefore wrong to think that Americans or white Westerners are rich and generous enough to splurge their hard earned money while they’re having the time of their life on our white beaches and cheap super malls. This part of our culture needs changing but Filipinos can only change this kind of mindset through media and propaganda. The prevalence of colonial mentality is a result of a long tradition of marketing campaigns for foreign or U.S. products and whitening products on TV.  Until we realize that our preference for products made in the U.S. is a result of manipulation by the colonizers of the past so we would patronize their products and help them gain profit, we would remain eternally imprisoned in a state of neo-colonialism. We would not grow out of our misconception that all white people from the West are rich and opulent. We will always feel a sense of inferiority towards them because we have that idea that we are poor and incompetent when compared to them “puti’s”. It’s sad to admit but most of our kababayans have that kind of mentality despite the current global progress and technological development.

I know Filipinos felt hurt by Mr. Macon’s words, but he was just trying to state the obvious although he forgot to analyze the facts and go deep into the problem. He saw that we are a culture of dependency and some of us are too lazy to make a decent living while expecting people to help them. This is also a sad truth about the Filipino culture but it’s not only limited to us. Close family ties is normal for Asians which the Americans or the Westerners wouldn’t comprehend. We tend to take care of our family especially when they are in trouble. In the U.S., they probably don’t give a damn about their relatives but in the Philippines, your family is the most important thing in the world. That’s why a lot of Filipino fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters are in diaspora working away from home to support their loved ones.

This is the difference between Western and Asian cultures which comes with a number of advantages and disadvantages. Such culture can cause some people to be dependent when they have someone to support them and provide for them when they don’t have any means of supporting themselves.  It could foster a society of dependency which is clearly happening now in the Philippines. A lot of people in the slums are “tambays” because they know they have fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters who would support them no matter what happens. I can see how Mr. Macon finds this annoying but then again this is something that defines our race which could be problematic when the economy is not doing so well and lot of people are struggling to earn a living. It could be very disadvantageous when your relatives expect you to help them when you can’t even help yourself. I suppose from an American’s point of view, this  might seem abnormal but our culture is very much family oriented that we sometimes think of our family first before ourselves and before other people outside our family. Again, to a foreigner this might sound inconceivable but for us Filipinos, it’s just normal to show our love towards our relatives. And of course we also have the concept of “hiya” (shame)  and “utang na loob” (gratitude), which could make us very vulnerable to abuses when our relatives insist for favors and financial support. These are things that would be hard to explain to a foreigner especially to a Westerner who doesn’t understand where we are coming from.

Lasltly, I have read the comments of some DF members and noticed that a lot of us were appalled by Mr. Macon’s article and I think that this has something to do with our culture of being “balat sibuyas”  (onion skin). We are quite sensitive when people point out our flaws and we tend to be very defensive when our values are being attacked. It’s probably related to us being very conservative as well and being very indirect when we try to criticize someone. We expect people to beat around the bush and use euphemisms. Mr. Macon was very direct in his approach and I could see why some of us raised their eyebrows after reading his article on DF. I think we all need to be reasonable and try to see where his grievances are coming from instead of acting like the problem doesn’t exist. I have to give it to Mr. Macon because he had the guts to publish a very anti-Filipino article on Definitely Filipino. Let’s give him the credit despite of the fact that he crossed the line and is now a persona non-grata of this community…


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  1. First of all I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question
    in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I’ve had a difficult
    time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the
    first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any ideas or tips? Many thanks!

  2. Filipinos sensitive? I kinda beg to disagree.

    During the aftermath of the Oslo Bombing last 2011, people laid flowers at the Oslo Cathedral and participated in the Flower March to pay their last respects to the dead.

    But after a disgraced Filipino cop took a busload of innocent Chinese nationals hostage and killed eight of them, students and policemen camwhored right in front of the bus where the tragedy took place thus showing outright disrespect to the victims. How callous, insensitive and uncivilized.

    Yan pala ang asal ng Pinoy. Proud ka pa?

  3. Close family-ties, huh? No wonder Filipino politicians love to weave their families into politics and all hell breaks lose.

  4. To Mr. Macon you might not stated or implied that you think your better than Filipinos. But you sounds like one. Yes I agree some of us Filipino are doing wrong, lazy, hore or ignorant as you stated on your blog. But what I can’t accept is you generalized it. Let me correct you Mr. Macon not all Filipinos are rude. Some are kind, educated,hospitable, respectful and hard working as any races can be.

    Don’t get me wrong but I think some misunderstanding to my fellow Filipino and some amreicans who visit or live in the Philippines.
    Like for example one american went to Philippines stay on the high in hotel, expensive beaches and etc. Some of us think wow he is rich. So the family or relatives that don’t have money or don’t see it like that before think, maybe he share some to us. I think that you call a show off. But the reality when he came back to the U.S. he go back to his daily routine. Work, some clean the house, cook and etc. Yes I agree he might rich compare to the normal Pilipino because of the dollar exchange rate.

    • Charing, please read my other comments and posts I have made on DF. I HAVE NOT stayed in a fancy hotel. When we first got here, we stayed in the Diplomat Hotel in Cebu City for 19 days because my wife’s lazy relatives had NOT found us a suitable place to rent as we told them on the phone over and over before we came. Usually, my wife and I remove all our jewelry before going out in public here. We wear very ordinary clothing and shoes. Filipinos are CONFUSED, if I had to use one word to describe them as a populace, generally speaking. Example? Well, look at how they are all making such a big deal out of the CHINESE NEW YEAR here now in the Philippines. Are Filipinos turning into Chinese now?? Filipinos go with whatever seems new and interesting and different, not what is right. Turn on Philippine TV and tune in to ABS-CBN or GMA and look at the news for proof. I thought Filipinos were mostly Catholic. Filipinos are easily influenced and persuaded to go the wrong way, as history here has proven.

      • Like I said Mr. Macon there is a misunderstanding between my other fellow Pilipino and some Americans who visited or lived in the Philippines.

        I did not say you are in the high in hotel, its just an example of how some of my fellow Pilipino think the way they see it and heard about it.

        • In fairness, Charing, there is surely misunderstanding on both sides, Filipinos and Americans both. Over here in the Philippines, because I do not have to work, because I have a car, and because I do not live in a squatter shack, I am viewed as “rich” by many Filipinos. Back in America, due to the high prices there and the cost of living, I would still have to be working at a job to live comfortably. We were considered just middle class in America. Some Americans do come to the Philippines with the attitude of living like a king and lording it over everyone. I have no doubt that is true because I have met some of them here. More compassion, common sense and understanding needs to come forth on both sides, in my opinion. All Americans are not “rich” and all Filipinos were not put here on this earth strictly to serve the needs and wants of Americans.

  5. There you go you are able to use a tone that will not offend. Constructive criticism is most welcome I agree on your point about raising awareness. There is Pinoy Pride and do not worry it is a long way but we are getting to be where we are supposed to be. One at a time.

  6. Well….LOL!…THIS persona non-grata is not going to change. I am NOT rich. I do NOT have millions of dollars or even millions of pesos, for that matter. I do NOT appreciate “some” Filipinos acting as if I were a money tree, as pointed out in this article. I am an American and a Texan…which means…I speak my mind freely, openly and honestly. If that hurts someone’s feelings, too bad, so sad. I do NOT owe any Filipino one red centavo. I have tried to live peacefully here, believe it or not. I do NOT play Karaoke music until 2 AM like some Filipinos. I have a silver, Benge TRUMPET that I brought with me from Texas. I have played the trumpet since age 12. Do you Filipinos not realize that if I wanted to rude…like some Filipinos I have met…I could play that trumpet so loud it would almost burst your eardrums? I do not do that because…I have respect for my neighbors, be they FIlipinos, Americans, Australians, Germans, whatever. They are all people.

    • Thank you for commenting here Mr. Macon, I just hope that you would one day realize that the problem you encounter with your Filipino neighbors is a result of ignorance and misguided colonial mentality. The Americans are partly responsible for it but I’m sure you will disagree with me because you probably think that the U.S. doesn’t owe the Philippines anything at all but history is a clear witness to the abuses of the U.S. when they colonized the Philippines in the 1900’s. The effects could still be felt up to this day and if you would only notice, “most” Filipinos think that all white people are Americans (calling them “KANO” short for AmeriKANO). I think that you, as an American, of all people should understand that the “rudeness” you hate about the Filipinos is a by-product of US Imperialism.

      • Dear InsearchofIthaca, Are you sure you are a Filipino and not an American Negro? I ask that rude question because that is EXACTLY the same argument that blacks in America are still trying to use today…over a hundred and fifty years after slavery was abolished in America. I will admit that America is guilty of some abuses of power, particularly in the Philippines. I am well aware of Philippine history. However, you cannot continue to use the American colonization of the Philippines for all of the problems and attitudes in the Philippine Islands today. That is ridiculous and a total cop-out. I suppose I should still be blaming Great Britain for the ills in America today because America was originally started as a British colony back in the 1600’s!! See how silly and lame an excuse that is? Filipinos, as do all other races, need to take responsibility for their actions. SOME do, OK? SOME Filipinos even know how to work hard, save their money and buy nice homes. I have met some of those Filipinos here, too. Good. Really, In search….you seem to be an educated person. How long will the Philippines continue to blame its current woes on the Spanish and the Americans?

        • Firstly, I don’t use the American colonization of the Philippines as a means to justify the current problems of the Philippines. That’s why I mentioned “the U.S. is partly responsible” to avoid the impression that I’m blaming the U.S. for all the wrong things that happens in the Philippines. Secondly, even with the abolishment of slavery, blacks in the U.S. are still treated unfairly. Don’t say that racism doesn’t happen because the laws say it’s illegal.

          You can’t deny the truth and the past, no matter how long it had been, could still haunt the present. Although I agree that we should try to move on so we could build a better future, the events of the past should not be easily forgotten in order for us to learn from it and to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. The problem with some people is that they don’t have any kind of remorse despite of the crimes that they have done. I’m not generalizing each and every American but the past leaders of the U.S. have done terrible things that affected the course of the development of some countries such as the Philippines. The Americans should be aware of these facts and should stop judging the Filipinos because they see some inconsistencies and flaws in our culture. Yes, we have a lot of problems but the U.S. isn’t perfect either. It is indeed not right to blame the U.S. or Spain, but it is also not right to deny justice and what is due to the people who suffered abuses in the past.

          Lastly, I’m sure that being an American makes you feel that you are privileged and better than most pinoys but you need to have compassion and understanding because Americans are as dysfunctional as any other race there is.

          • Show me one time that I have stated or implied that I think I am better than Filipinos. (??) Yes, we do need to move on, both in America and in the Philippines. Story time. My wife, a Filipina, worked at Bank of America for over 20 years in America as a bank teller. The bank hired a new girl, a black girl, one day, and she was complaining about racism and how that blacks in America did not get all of the privileges the government “owed” them. My wife looked at her and said, “Do you see the color of my skin? I am not white. It took me SIX YEARS to become a legal U.S. citizen. I don’t complain. I WORK! Maybe you should do likewise.” Neither my wife or I feel “privileged” above other people. We have both worked our asses off our whole life. That is one of the things I love about her. Her work ethic is amazing! How about if we ALL quit complaining about alleged or imaginary wrongs of the government or wrongs committed 200 years ago and start to work TOGETHER for world peace, cleaning up the environment, and to end political corruption? How would that be?

            • you sure hit the nail right sir steve..and to my fellowman: stop arguing,stop complaining, just work hard, exercise honesty at all times and try not to be a part of the dirty system that we all know realistic! madami naman talagang dugas sa ating bansa..huwag ng magbalat sibuyas pa.

    • Nobody is asking you to change dude. You cant teach an old dog new tricks anyway. We are asking you to leave the phils! You should have said SOME filipinos in your article before you submitted it for publishing. Be careful with your tone we can raise the same tone with you as well. When in Rome do as the Romans, you are in the Philippines a poor country with uneducated people in mass so you should have known you were not going to heaven when you went there.

      • Oh, LOL!..I totally agree that the Philippines is not heaven. On the other hand, it does not have to be hell either. Consideration for others and the environment would be a good starting point here for some….notice I said SOME…Filipinos. I do NOT understand this habit of throwing your candy wrappers, potato chip bags, and empty 1-peso water tubes down in the street. Walay PINOY PRIDE? By the way, I have the freedom and means to live anywhere in the world that I choose. Right now…I choose the Philippines and I will not stop trying to raise awareness of Pinoys on how they can improve their own personal situations and that of their nation…which by the way, is a beautiful country.

        • There you go you are able to use a tone that will not offend. Constructive criticism is most welcome I agree on your point about raising awareness. I am doing my bit however little it is. There is Pinoy Pride and do not worry it is a long way but we are getting to be where we are supposed to be. One at a time.

          • What is frustrating to me, Joadobo, is my wife keeps saying, “The Philippines was not this way when I lived here.” Well, probably not. She was gone from the Philippines for 35 years. LOL! She keeps telling me how CLEAN Cebu City was, how NICE certain buildings were, etc. It is hard to imagine that now, looking at the buildings and streets of Cebu City. Pinoy Pride needs a revival.

            • too much free spirited people getting away from responsibility and have lost their discipline, its an uphill climb i hope coz there is no going lower than where our country is at now.

  7. I agree, not all white foreigners are rich! Bad and good people is everywhere, poverty and problems in all aspects of life is all around the world as well as in USA. Sometimes, we need to understand , We have to have a bigger heart and widen our minds, doesn’t matter what color or race, it’s not easy but as a human being, we should!

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