Blog Action Day 2014: Wishing for a world with equal opportunities for all

Blog Action Day 2014 is about inequality. Today, I write about my vision for a world that values equality in terms of race and opportunities.

As an educated Filipino woman with a double masters degree, first in Communication (Philippines) and second in Korean Studies (Korea and Thailand). I became aware of the implications of my race and the accompanying opportunities it brings (and fails to bring) when I was an international student in Thailand and Korea. After I graduated from my second master’s degree, I began to have this sinking feeling that my double masters is also a double whammy – that of being Asian (and a Filipino at that!) and that of being a woman.

I was:

1. Conveniently ignored in international job applications despite my credentials. Between a Caucasian person and an Asian person with stellar CVs, skin color becomes the perceived accurate predictor of English language ability and suitability for the job. The Filipino woman’s stereotype as a domestic helper doesn’t help, either.

2. Experienced having my passport scrutinized at airport counters despite having a valid education visa. This more often happened in Korea rather than in Thailand. More often than not, I felt that staff often eyed me and my passport with suspicion. Observing white people in airports, this doesn’t seem to be a problem for them. They just show their passports and off they merrily go (or pass, as the case may be). While excessive scrutiny has been the extent to which I experienced discomfort, the inequality between treatment of a Filipino and a Caucasian is palpable.

3. Experienced being conveniently ignored while on an international holiday, especially in cases where white people are in one room or area with Asian (more so for Southeast Asian) people. When you’re an international student, travel and touring places is a must-do. I’ve experienced curt treatments in hostels in Thailand. Staff just give me and my fellow ASEAN travel mates the minimum politeness during our stay, whereas Caucasians are visibly pampered and lavished with attention. In Korea, me and my ASEAN-based friends experienced being semi-politely turned away in a job fair in school, whereas our Caucasian counterparts were given more chances to converse with recruiters and explore opportunities.

This made me wish for a world wherein:

1.  Asians value fellow Asians as much as Caucasians. I find it ironic that I am of the same race as Thai and Korean people, but am often put at the bottom of a hierarchy. This situation, of course, is different with my Thai and Korean friends and teachers, who know me and who treat me like family.

2. Suitability for jobs are based on credentials and personality instead of skin color or stereotypes. I wish for a world where I can compete globally based on merit. I wish for a world where, when people learn that I am a Filipino woman, I will not be lumped together with the stereotype of a domestic helper. I wish to shine as I truly am.

3. Filipinos can travel comfortably without being (silently) branded as a suspicious character or a potential threat. I also wish for a world where Filipinos who truly desire to see the world can freely do so without fear or worry of being discriminated against. I wish to travel like Caucasians do, that is, how they can go in and out of beautiful exotic destinations freely and experience the pleasures and joys of learning about various cultures.

I wish for this vision to become a reality. I was given the rare opportunity to learn and see the world as an international student, and I saw that the world has so much to offer to everyone. If true equality becomes a reality, then that potential to taste what the world has to offer can be equally given to everyone.

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