ate Shawie Stone, her yaya/nanny, & the basic instinct about Pinoy stereotypes

Yayas, nannies and maids. Also known as our modern OFW heroines. Thanks and acknowledgment to !

[ Note : congratulations to Kinoy Wellingtonian Julianne Alvarez for her nomination as finalist for Emerging Sportswoman of the Year at the Wellington Sports Awards ! Woohoo! ]

IF STEREOTYPES are to be believed, then the typical Pinay-Pinoy is a perfect nurse / caregiver / nanny, is also an above-average seaman / IT engineer / call center agent, speaks understandable English, is good enough to be an American Idol finalist, is a Nike endorser-level athlete, is God-fearing, can work anywhere in the world and gets along with a rainbow of races, and never forgets to return the bag containing personal effects you misplace, whether it’s yesterday’s leftovers or US$250,000 cash.

But these are only the sunny side of stereotypes, the side we love hearing about and showing off to our non-Pinoy friends, hey look this is my countryman / countrywoman, but what we’re really saying is hey look this is me, ain’t it cool

The flip side of the stereotype, the one so prominently displayed in a recent article I read about an imminent legal confrontation between a former A-lister Sharon Stone and her former nanny, is the one we would rather not hear about.

For now, the stereotype I prefer focusing on his the one/s that refer to nannies, who we affectionately call our yayas (and which term I’ll use, if you don’t mind) till the end of this page).  And as it turns out, the stereotype my memories are summoning are not really stereotypes, but things the Pinoy yayas are actually known for.

When my yaya took care of me, she bathed me, dressed me, wiped my bottom, brought me to school, took me home, read to me, put me to sleep, went to sleep herself, and did the whole routine again until I could do these things myself.  I think it speaks for itself how important she was to me.

Years and years later, at the swanky retirement village in our suburb (which isn’t really swanky cause old people are abandoned there by children who can afford a slightly better retirement home than normal), Pinoy caregivers bathe their patients, dress them, wipe their bottoms, bring them to the park, take them home, read to them, put them to sleep, go to sleep themselves, and repeat the whole thing the next day.  They do this lovingly as if the patients were parents of their own, without complaint, go far beyond the requirements of fifteen dollars an hour, and by far are the most requested nationality when it comes to choice of caregivers, and I suspect this is true in many many places in New Zealand.

The difference between my yaya of 1970s and the retirement village yayas of 2012?  Besides the temporal gap of 40 years, absolutely nothing.

Tita Shawie, for all her linguistic, intellectual and non-sectarian requirements, could’ve gotten a British governess, French chef and an expert on political correctness to take care of her children for her, and with due respect, the level of care provided by her Pinay yaya would not have been possible.

Two caveats here : the facts as alleged by her former yaya may or may not be accurate, as most lawyerly allegations should be taken with a grain of salt.  Secondly, as mentioned, Pinoy stereotypes are always two-faced like a coin.  We love the positives but hate the negatives.  We speak great English but not without our unmistakeable twang, whether we admit it or not.  We love our indigenous home-grown Pinoy wisdom, but can’t deny the naivete and ethnocentricism it resonates with.  We take pride in our Pinoy traits of industriousness, religiosity and loyalty, but gloss over our love of gossip, parochialism, and crab mentality.  We can’t have our puto and kutsinta, and eat it too !

They’ve all put their foot in their mouth before.  Liam Neeson and bound PinaysClaire Danes and her cockroach phobia, and now Sharon Stone and why she inexplicably stood by her Pinoy yaya despite the latter’s imperfections.  They are all unfair, generalized and race-insensitive comments.  But they all contain all contain a kernel of truth in them, or at least a morsel of commentary about Philippine reality.

Each time we bathe in the glow of a positive Pinoy stereotype, it would do well for us to remember that there is most likely an equal and opposite negative stereotype lurking in the shadows ready to strike.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Thanks for reading!


4 thoughts on “ate Shawie Stone, her yaya/nanny, & the basic instinct about Pinoy stereotypes

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