Since i became an expat-wife, i've been in constant search for significance. Without my career, i needed to have a new mission, a new goal. Alas, i had an awakening last week! I realized it after an unpleasant encounter with a crass Korean lady in her 50s who had no sense of diplomacy.
It happened last Wednesday during my Korean painting class. My session was almost over when this Korean lady came. Apparently, she was also a student. She was talking with my teacher in korean but i knew she was asking him where i was from. I heard my teacher say that i was from the Philippines so i turned and gave her a smile. With every bit of english she could string together, she said very matter-of-factly "manila very poor". I was thrown aback by her comment and didn't know how to react!
My very first thought was, "how could this woman be so rude?" Yeah, there's no denying that the Philippines is not a first world country but anyone with good breeding would know you never point out the negative in the person you just met. Next thought was it's humiliating that "poor" is the general perception of the Philippines. I was so mad at the so-called leaders of our country for not doing anything to change this perception. In fact, they are the main contributors to poverty in our country! Then i tried to think of something good about our country that i could say in it's defense. Unfortunately, the only response i could think of at the time was "not all filipinos are poor".
I felt so disappointed at myself for not defending and upholding the Filipino pride. I should've told her that like in any other country, there are poor people in the Philippines but there are also a lot of highly educated and sophisticated people. I should have told her that the Manila is just as cosmopolitan as Seoul.
After that incident it became clear to me that my new mission is to "represent" the Filipinos. I need to make sure that with every new person i meet and every conversation i have, i will be able to make an impression that Filipinos are smart, articulate and sophisticated. I am now a self-appointed Filipino ambassador! I just wish i had more support from our government. Some positive news maybe or at the very least, i hope they won't do any further damage to the Filipino reputation.