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A Tale of Two Foreigners Apr 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Foreigners


The Odd Sign
My friends and I were just leaving Casaroro Falls. While trekking back not too far away from the falls (but still in Valencia), I noticed the odd sign on the fence of a house.

I was shocked. It was insensitive at best, and downright vicious at worst. I was thinking, no Filipino would do that to his neighbor. I was curious. I asked a local if he knew who lived in that house. He uttered one word, "German". Hmmm...very Nazi. This sign reminds me of a time when Filipinos were labeled indios by the colonizing Spaniards. Filipinos were made to feel second class citizens in their own country...that we were inferior...not worthy. This one is no different. It's surprising that in this age and time, such sentiments, or worse, such outrageous statements are still made and blatantly announced in public!

A Similar Scene from 2 Years Back
It was perhaps 2 years ago, while I was still living in the highlands of the Mountain Province, when I was invited by a foreigner to his house. I already knew he had problems with the local Igorot community. But I wasn't prepared to witness a yelling from him against his next door neighbor. He called them "stupid monkeys" to their faces. The neighbor was quiet and even managed a smile. I was embarrassed to be seen in his house. It was crude, uncivilized and insensitive to the culture, to which he never bothered to appreciate or get to know better. Interestingly enough, he was also German.

The Igorots
A little history here. The Igorots are the indigenous people of the Mountain Province. They're gentle, hard working, and proud of their race. But when pushed or threatened, they fight back. Just generations ago, head hunting was part of their tradition. Even before the advent of eco-tourism, they already have a rigid stance that they call the shots in their land...not the monied lowlanders and definitely not the foreigners. Of course, many outsiders attempted to inch their way into the landscape. Those who managed to stay were able to do so only in compliance to the tradition and convention of the community. Those who wanted to take control were driven out of one way or another.

Driven Out of Town
Not surprisingly, it was only a matter of time before the monkey-shouting foreigner was driven out of town. A legal charge of persona non grata was slapped against him by the municipality. The entire village escorted him until he crossed the boundary line.

Am I saying German foreigners are not good for us? NO! I'd like to believe these 2 are more exceptions to the rule. Let me continue.

JohnnyHeeeere's Johnny!
Interestingly again, just a day before the Casaroro trek, I was having beer with another foreigner who owns The Danish Lagoon in Siquijor. He introduced himself as Johnny. He never bothered with his last name. This guy really cracked me up. He was animated, funny, outrageous and more importantly, his heart is in the right place.

Giving Back to the Community
Just to prove that people in his community (Paliton) were reliable and hard working, he only hired the Palitonians to do construction on his impeccable resort...and they did a superb job. To jump start a livelihood program for the community, he initiated and financed a chicken program (or was it an egg program....I'm going by memory here). He also donated 100 sets of Hans Christian Andersens' 3 books to the local schools. He noticed the schools had no books! Without wanting to dole out charity, he raffled off bundles of loot bags (rice and other essentials) during a community event. In his own words, "I cannot save the world, but I can be a good neighbor."

Ending Thoughts
What am I saying? I'm saying in 2 days, I came across 2 foreigners who couldn't be more different. They spanned the extreme ends of the spectrum.

What about Johnny? I wanna buy him beer! If you happen to pass by The Danish Lagoon, buy him beer and tell him he's doing a fab job.

And the German guy who'll sell the local kids to the circus? I would tell him clearly in no uncertain terms, but perhaps still gently, that he shouldn't throw his weight around town like European nobility. As a GUEST in this tropical paradise we call Negros (or the Philippines, for that matter), it's not a good idea for a GUEST to be rude to his HOST.

--- TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

(Apr 30, 2010) wow...what ever happened to extending kindness to travelers on the road? Glad you're ok and didn't become dog food. :))

(Apr 29, 2010) And that was why I learned their language. So I could trade barbs (and/or compliments) on equal footing :)

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