The Filipino in other people’s eyes

Published June 11, 2022, 5:00 PM

by AA Patawaran

On the 124th anniversary of Philippine independence, may we see ourselves for what we are

It’s a good thing that, even before what was left of Ferdinand Magellan’s flotilla of five ships arrived on the Philippine shores, claiming to have discovered us—a fallacy that by now should have been disproved—we have always been aware of the larger world around us.

Once, while I was in Beijing on an anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, a representative of Australia waxed romantic about her country’s decades-long relationship with China. Once it was our turn, the chair of Association of Philippines-China Understanding (APCU) chair, the late Josie Baldovino, sister of national artist for visual arts Jose Joya, blew everyone away when she said that our relations dated back to the ninth century, in the Tang Dynasty, where there was evidence of our participation in the Nanhai trade. In fact,  there are a few pages of Philippine weapons, instruments, vessels, and implements in Zhao Rugua’s 13th-century Zhua Fan Zhi, roughly translated as “Records of Foreign People” or unjustly (by the West) as “A Description of Barbarians.”

It’s a bad thing, too. Thanks to our early interactions with seafarers and merchants, from the Arabs to the Indians and the Japanese, we have always had the larger world against which to compare ourselves.    

Here are a few words foreigners, from Pigafetta to Millie Bobby Brown, have said about us.

It’s a good story if it’s like Manila Hotel. —Ernest Hemingway, American author

*****

Those people became very familiar with us. They told us many things, their names, and those of some of the islands that could be seen from that place. Their own island was called Zuluan and it is not very large. We took great pleasure with them, for they were very pleasant and conversable. —Antonio Pigafetta, Italian chronicler

*****

My first time in the Philippines and it’s amazing! You have supported me all these…decades, but I’ve never bothered to come. Maybe I live too far, I don’t know, but I love you! —Celine Dion, Canadian singer

*****

[The Philippines]…is bizarre and avant-garde. You have land to explore. In one sentence you hear the culture, the Spanish here, the Americans there, layers and layers of history. —Jaime Hayon, Spanish designer

*****

I went to Manila last year. There were people camping outside the hotel, crying, and literally hyperventilating. I was like, “Why do you like me so much? I’m just boring old Millie.” —Millie Bobby Brown, British actress

*****

Everywhere I walked, we were greeted by a kind of warmth and hospitality that you hope for as someone who travels. You kinda get lucky when you walk into it. Mixed with the amazing food and the nice warm weather, it’s been a great experience. —Cole Sprouse, American actor

*****

I love it in the Philippines. I have such a great time, aside from the food. I’ve always wanted to spend more time in the Philippines, but I’ve never had the opportunity to. So I’m looking forward to actually coming out there, just relaxing, just hanging out. —Kobe Bryant, American basketball player

*****

Thirty years ago today (1986), something very important happened here in the Philippines, am I correct?  Something very, very important: You fought for your freedom, correct? Up for democracy and up for freedom! —Madonna, American singer

*****

Don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere as friendly as Manila in the Philippines! I’ve had such an awesome time here! Thank you for the hospitality and extremely good vibes. —Finn Jones, English actor

*****

The most adventurous thing I’ve done is learn how to fly a helicopter in the Philippines. One night we landed on a beach and slept on it. —Francis Ford Coppola, American filmmaker

*****

I went once to the Philippines for holidays and it had been a big aesthetic shock for me. I got amazed by all the colors and the materials, by the generosity of people living here and by the fact Philippines is built on diversity. —Christian Louboutin, French shoe designer

*****

I’ve been to the Philippines close to a hundred times. You just didn’t know. Filipinos are gentle, kind, musical, fun, humble and have a great sense of humor. —Steven Seagal, American actor

*****

Filipinos are so damn’ nice.  —Anthony Bourdain, American chef

*****

The thing about the Filipinos is that they’re very romantic. —Julia Fordham, British singer

*****

The people were welcoming and loving. They made it a luxury to shoot there. And wow, it was a really great experience! I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Such beauty on those islands, more than seven thousand of them! I went to a couple and they were unlike anything I’ve seen. Beautiful! But then you have this squalor, this absolute poverty. That’s hard to process. But the beauty is that the people living in poverty have the biggest smiles on their faces. I don’t know if it’s a genetic or a chemical thing in their brains, but they’re just a happy people! And it’s infectious. The Philippines is a wonderful place to be in and visit. —Jeremy Renner, American actor

*****

I think I died and went to heaven (El Nido, Palawan). —Margot Robbie, Australian actress

*****

Philippines are showing MAD LǾVE That’s what the f I’m talking about LETS GOO —Aaron Carter (on Twitter), American singer

*****

Aw, man, it’s so beautiful. It’s such a stunning place. I love the beaches out there. We rode ATVs down the side, through different villages. We were there for, like, a whole day excursion. We really got to see what it’s like out there. The balut like an egg that’s been fertilized. It’s like a little bit grown chicken, but you still eat it and it’s still delicious. —Zac Efron, American actor

*****

I’ve loved so much being here, and I’ve loved my time in Manila. I wish we had more time. I think it’s one of the most exciting places I’ve been in a really, really long time. I hope to have the opportunity to come back again very soon and learn more and see more and eat more. —Sarah Jessica Parker, American actress

*****

I think this is the best place I’ve ever been to in my life.—Vin Diesel, American actor

*****

Sold out night two in the Philippines! I love it here! And don’t worry if I get thrown in jail here in Manila, Beyonce will bail me out! —Lady Gaga, American performer

*****

I’ve been wanting to come to the Philippines since I was a little boy, and to actually come here, actually have people know me and actually welcome me in this way…it’s overwhelming. —Quentin Tarantino, American filmmaker

*****

Some of my closest friends are from the Philippines!  I went to the Philippines to see my friends, and ended up staying the entire 21 days. I love the Philippines, it’s a beautiful place. There’s more talent per square meter in the Philippines than any other country—except Wales. Everybody sings in Wales and that’s why I probably have affinity for Filipinos. You have a family dinner and someone starts singing or playing the guitar.—Luke Evans, Welsh actor

*****

The Philippines was one of the greatest places I’ve ever visited.—Lucy Hale, American actress and singer

*****

I am a Filipina and I love the Philippines. Abroad, there are reports on the killings in the Philippines because of drugs. I would like to counter it by producing a documentary that will promote the country as a fun destination. It’s more fun in the Philippines.—Rachel Grant, British-Filipina Bond girl

*****

It feels great. It feels really good to be here. It’s my third time to be here and it’s been lovely to be honest. I’ve been eating a lot of food, a lot of Filipino food. My favorite one now is sisig and lechon as well (laughs). In Cebu I’m going to try the real lechon. All you Filipino guys are amazing. You always have a smile on your face and that’s really welcoming. That’s something to be grateful (for) so I love the Philippines. And I know it’s more fun in the Philippines it’s true!—Andreas Munoz, Spanish actor

*****

Thank you so much to my Filipino fans. When I play here, it feels like I’m playing at home.—Kim YeonKoung, Korean celebrity

*****

I feel the love every time I am here. I look forward to it every visit. I don’t get tired of returning again and again to the Philippines.—Lee Min Ho, Korean celebrity

*****

#itsmorefuninthePhilippines hashtag is a true one. They applaud loudly and hug you a lot.—Neil Gaiman, English author

*****

Palawan is more like Emerald City. Maybe to you it’s a real place, but to me it looked like fantasy place.—Rachel Weisz, English actress

 
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