The r/Philippines subreddit was teeming with opinions on whether Filipinos take our much-touted “Filipino hospitality” too far after a video showing a Filipino woman giving up her seat to a white tourist in a UV Express that was set for a long-haul trip.
A video posted on Reddit by u/Puzzleheaded_Top255 shows an Australian vlogger, who goes by Marcos Roams on YouTube, approaching a UV Express, an airconditioned share taxi-like service, that was apparently headed to the northern village of Buscalan in Kalinga, also known as the hometown of 106-year-old traditional tattoo artist Whang-Od.
The snippet shows him and his female companion approaching the van nearly filled with passengers, with space left remaining in the back. He asks the conductor point-blank, “Can I sit in the front?” ignoring the fact that there was a woman already seated beside the driver.
“Ah, you want to sit in the front?” The conductor repeats to him in Filipino.
“Looks like I’ve just kicked out the person [sitting in front]… but she’s gotta go,” he says to the camera. In the background, the conductor is heard apologizing to the woman, who moves to the back.
The clip cuts to the vlogger, saying, “So that’s us for the next 11 hours, and I’m glad I’m not packed in here because they lack sidings,” gesturing to the main passenger seats. “Let’s just hope they’ve got aircon. Somehow, we’ve managed to get the front seats… all I said was can I have the front and the person jumped out, I was initially going to offer like, PHP1,000 (US$17.80) but here we are,” he further claims, despite no initial indication that he had planned on offering payment to compensate the passenger he booted out.
It’s a frustrating dance. As a country touted for its beaches and natural sights, we rely on travelers like Marco Roams to boost our tourism numbers and economic prospects.
Yet this comes at the price of constantly subjecting Filipinos to being relegated to second-class citizens in their own country in order to please the (mostly white) entitled foreigners who come to exercise their privilege in exchange for “giving us business.”
It’s a large reason why sexpats continue to come to the country and prey on less fortunate Filipinas, who have been ingrained to think that the only way out of poverty is to marry a foreigner.
Sure, not every white dude who comes to the Philippines is a sexpat. That said, the rise of social media – and Filipinos’ relationship with it – have curiously given rise to a new breed of tourists: the Pinoy-baiters.
Taking advantage of their strong currency exchange, these tourists come to the Philippines and create vlogs – from trying Jollibee to experiencing the most mundane local customs – in exchange for millions of views, likes, and shares.
Filipinos are not entirely to blame for how easily we take this bait. It’s a residual aspect of colonialist mentality that stems from years, centuries even, of being othered on our own shores. So when Filipinos, having internalized an inferiority complex for generations and then get praised about something that hits close to home, we’re quick to jump on the bandwagon and brandish the Filipino flag.
Yet hospitality shouldn’t come at the expense of being pushed around and being treated less than equal – much less on our own shores. And while these tourists should generally stop being assholes when visiting another country and respect its locals, it is also up to us to take pride in our own heritage and resources because we believe in their own intrinsic value, not because some vlogger validated them for content.
This allows us to continue welcoming these travelers with open arms, encouraging them to see the sights and appreciate what the country has to offer – without bending over backward trying to please them and giving up our dignity.
So the next time a tourist wants to come and hit the road in the Philippines, smile back, thank them for their interest, and give them recommendations like a true local – and tell them to wait for their fucking turn in line.