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31 July 2013

Emmanuel Quindo Palo's "David F." (Review) "Are Filipinos the Most Polite Racists?"

"All Cretans are liars; all Filipinos are racists."
A modified Epimenides paradox

“David F.” attempts to explore the long history of African Americans in the Philippines, beginning with David Fagen, an American soldier who defected to support Filipino revolutionary fighters during the Filipino-American war.   Unfortunately, the attempt failed despite the best intentions.  Only two things worked in the film, the production design and Anita Linda’s brief performance accentuated by her harrowing scream.  That alone is worth the ticket price.  Oddly, the film is littered with outstanding actors such as Sid Lucero, Art Acuña, Eula Valdes, Sharmaine Buencamino and Mitch Valdes but the many shortcomings of the film simply eclipsed the actors’ individual performances. 

Director Palo manages to connect the story of David Fagen during the American period with the events in World War II but the connection stops there.  The third installment of the story remains separated.  Inevitably, the point of the film is muddled and unrealized, that is if the movie aims to have a point in the first place.  This is unfortunate indeed because “David F.” could have been groundbreaking if it had succeeded. 

Nevertheless, the film may be one of the first attempts to open the discussion on Filipino racism in film.  In a country populated by predominantly brown-skinned people, it is a national embarrassment that we still consider fair skin as the ideal beauty.  Our famous movie stars have white skin or have Caucasian features.  Whitening treatment is still a big business and jokes about skin color and having African heritage are still considered laughable, even by people who have dark complexion.  We do not really need to watch a film to know that we are racists.  Just watch any comedy show; examine the careers of Diego of “Bubble Gang” and Whitney Tyson in the 1980s.  The problem with us Filipinos is that we never recognize that we are racist.  If we do, we do not really take it seriously.  Even one of the industry's Entertainment Sweetheart supposedly made an unintentional racist remark, commenting that a singer contestant is "egoy na egoy." This only proves that deep down inside, we Filipinos have never really exorcised the white demon that possessed our native soul. 
Even more unfortunate is we commercialize our racism.  Why are the models in posters in malls white? Why do babies in baby products commercials have fair skin? Even in Cinemalaya, why are actors who are supposed to play farmers look so fair and Eurasian?  It is not always the fault of the corporations.  A product will cease to exist if customers stop buying.  Inevitably, the responsibilities lie in us. Stop buying products that promote being white as exclusively beautiful. Stop laughing at racist jokes. Stop watching television shows that disguise racism with comedy. Criticize films that hire white actors to play dark skinned characters.  Just stop. 

Filipinos may be the world’s worst racists because we are “polite racists” or “racist without an ideology.” We are racist because of habit and this habit even makes us feel ashamed of our own color.  Some of us feel white because we speak English and we have ties with white culture. However, in reality, most Filipinos are only a few shades lighter than African Americans. 

Our Spanish colonizers have brainwashed us into believing that anything white is superior. After all, Jesus, his parents and all of the saints, including the Chinese mestizo Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, have fair complexion.  The Americans used Hollywood to further glamorize and sexualize the white deities.  More than 100 years have passed since our independence but we still cling to the erroneous doctrine of White Supremacy. 

In 2012, I used to write my film reviews for Filipino films in Tagalog. I applied for Adsense and another blog advertising service but both rejected my application because they do not support Filipino language.  Despite having a population of almost 100 million, “may mga ilang tao na naniniwala na walang pera sa Pilipino.” Sa mga susunod na panahon, nais ko uling magsulat sa Filipino. Oo, hipokrita rin ako sublait araw-araw ay sinusubukan kong magbago. 


NEW BREED Film Reviews
* The Diplomat Hotel (watched but no review)

* Ekstra
* Liars
* Porno
* Sana Dati   

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