[ Note : Apologies to all if I don’t make complete sense below; it’s probably the product of trying to cram too many thoughts into limited space! 🙂 I’ve never thanked them before or only in passing, so please allow me to thank and acknowledge contemporary Atty. Argee Guevarra for a pic of his taken in the Forbidden City, Beijing, Philippine Collegian editor Noel “Nowie” Pangilinan for a pic of his cross-country post-tendinitis rehab (and for another Collegian ed Cris Godinez-Pangilinan for expertly taking the pic), and Ms Zaida Angara West for her world class photo of Aniao Islets in Baler Quezon; belated birthday greetings to batchmates Wilfred Chua (1st Jan), Dr June Tiu-Lim (5th Jan), Mevelyn Tang-Critides (10th Jan), Irene Chua-Co (17th Jan), Elena Sy-Goddard (21st Jan), Annette Lim-Parks (23rd Jan) and Dennis Sy (24th Jan)! woo-hoo! ]
The particular viewing today leads us to an extra-pretty flat which the agent has no trouble inviting prospective tenants to, and Mahal and I discover that a couple has beaten us to view the property first. As we approach the flat, we overhear snatches of a candid conversation between the agent and the couple.
I’ll just ring up Raj (thinly disguised name of agent’s boss) and tell him that we’re taking the flat, insisted the guy.
That’s great, agent smiles, but the final decision will have to be the landlord’s, blah blah blah said the agent, who was trying to be audio-visually inoffensive and not show that she was getting annoyed at the over-eager manner of the couple.
We’ve come from so far and live in the city and so we have so little opportunity to find a flat we like, that’s why we think we should take this right now. Could you call Raj and tell him to please not advertise the flat anymore? added the girl.
The agent nearly rolled her eyeballs through her transluscent spectacles (I loved her just for doing that), caught herself in time, and said well if you can reach Raj, then maybe you can convince him, but again as rental agents we can only show you and shortlist everyone, honestly you can’t get anything done over the weekend, Rental Agent explained patiently.
Mahal and I were mute witnesses to this exchange, and telepathically tried to convey to each other : are you thinking what I’m thinking about this pushy couple?
It occured to Mahal (but not to me, cluelessly) that they were acting the way they did because of us (and other prospective lessees who were soon to be within earshot) to discourage anyone else from even thinking of vying for the prize. The prize of that well-lighted, airy, quiet, one-carport and thickly carpeted urban center flat.
By coincidence, the couple belonged to a demographic that many Pinoys have likened to being one of the more arrogant, parsimonious and (sorry to say) pretentious around. This rather extemporaneous display of behavior did nothing to change our way of thinking, unfair as it sounds.
Shortly after the couple left, the agent confirmed our thoughts almost wholesale. We asked her, after some small talk, how she felt about them.
They may be friends with Raj, but it doesn’t make a difference if they think the flat will go to them. A flat like this will certainly have more than a few interested takers, and all applications will probably treated the same way.
She was quite diplomatic in describing the couple’s interest, but agreed 101% when we asked if the couple wasn’t being a bit too pushy for comfort.
*** *** ***
Which led me to thinking, notwithstanding the political incorrectness in both Mahal and myself thinking a bit negatively of the couple, but which was it : were they too pushy or vexing for our taste, which formed part of our conclusion that they must come from that part of our continent, OR did our pre-conceived notion that people like them are naturally arrogant and disagreeable affect our finding that kaya naman pala sila (so that’s why they are) pushy and arrogant, they are after all members of that race ? Was it the chicken or the egg?
But just as curiously :
As if it weren’t odious enough, race-related intolerance for me resonates with the concept of self-loathing. It’s not the prettiest example, but isn’t it true that some of the “qualities” we associate with the couple above, like pretentiousness, conceit (to some extent) and niggardliness, we’re guilty of ourselves? And doesn’t it sometimes ring true that what we hate in others is what we hate in ourselves?
Just let me give a short, short enumeration on what I see as three ways racial intolerance evokes self-loathing :
When you stereotype certain races according to the negative (or even positive) qualities they’re known for, which is more commonly known as racial stereotyping or profiling. When you identify certain groups for beauty, skin color, intelligence and athleticism on the one hand, and terrorism, parsimony, dullness, lasciviousness or poor hygiene on the other, you subconsciously declare contempt for similar qualities (or lack of such) in yourself. The longer I think about this, the more it makes sense. But I admit such thinking needs definition and qualification.
When you justify, rationalize and even celebrate certain negative aspects associated with your own racial demographic, as if to say this is my race, I won’t ever change no matter what as if race and not the individual determines a person’s contribution to the external world. When you seek to explain away your destiny with a conclusion, then, indeed you are doomed to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When you deny your race and your upbringing, reject the role played by race in your existence and avoid any references and associations with people and culture (once) identified as yours. This is in some ways the reverse of the previous paragraph, but the net result is the same : ultimately you distort one of the most important truths about yourself, that part of you is determined by the way you were brought up, by the fact of who your parents were, and by the God-given race you were born with.
Like I said recently, the above is quite opinionated, but I’ll sink or swim on my own. Thanks as always Precious Reader for reading, comments for or against are always welcome!
- Going M.A.D. ( Mahal Appreciation Day) (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- love or hate other races & your own : can’t have it both ways (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Patterns Of Brain Activity Reveal Implicit Race Bias (medicalnewstoday.com)