“Anong oras kakain ang mga bisaya? Edi, pag tapos na ang mga amo nila.” I recently came across this degrading joke in a Facebook post, garnering more than a hundred laugh reacts, followed by angry ones. Another one I saw was a tweet by someone I follow on Twitter, saying “Ang baduy magkaroon ng kapitbahay na bisaya, at ang iingay pa, kala mo nasa bundok.”
I don’t follow her anymore.
Regional stereotypes, like if you’re Waray, then you’re permanently angry and argumentative, if you’re from Mindanao, there goes the question “How did you survive the wars?” and If you’re Cebuano/Bisaya then you must be loud and baduy in terms of fashion, have been around for quite a while, enough for almost everyone to know about it.
Frankly, I think that these are just plain ridiculous. Especially me, as a native Bisaya, along with the majority of students and faculty.
Why are we being represented so negatively? We can’t help it, either, that Bisayans are usually represented in Tagalog films as mere housemaids, as people who couldn’t properly enunciate Tagalog and English, which, in turn, are used as sources of laughter and ridicule.
The stereotypes that Bisayans are just housemaids and baduy manumit is becoming more and more ridiculous each day. I would go as far as to say that this is similar, almost like a local counterpart, of how the US views Mexicans as manual laborers that can speak poor English.
And when the topic of things and culture come up in normal conversations between a probinsyano and a Manileno, the latter usually asks, “Ay, may ganyan pala sa probinsya?”
Cue the facepalm.
Of course we do. Our cities are as progressive as you may think. Sure, we don’t have huge shopping malls and we don’t have Starbucks on every corner of the city, but come on. There’s so much more than what meets the eye. We also have our fair share of beautiful and unusual things that can only be found in the environs of our provinces.
Like in our beautiful city of Dumaguete and our province of Negros Oriental, we maintain a rich culture of artists, musicians, and writers. We have over seven universities scattered around our small city. Our communities are close-knit, and everyone seems to know everyone. Not to mention the beautiful beaches brimming with sea life.
Why can’t people focus on these aspects instead?
We also have world-renowned scientist Angel Alcala, Palanca awardee and author Ian Casocot, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, multi-awarded poet and fictionist Cesar Ruiz Aquino, Edith and Edilberto Tiempo the pioneers of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop (the oldest creative writing workshop in Asia), former Philippine presidents Sergio Osmena, Manuel Roxas, and Carlos P. Garcia, film director Eddie Romero who is considered to be one of the finest in Philippine cinema, and a whole lot more.
So no, bisayans are not just this-and-that. We are more than our stereotypes. We are hard-working and resilient, and we excel in different platforms too. It’s high time that we change the negative course of the Bisayan stereotype into something much, much better.