One thing I used to really hate about living in the Philippines was the constant yelling at me of the infamous words shouted to any foreigner here…
Yes, honestly, I bristled every time I heard this being yelled at me, which meant that 3 or 4 times every day I felt uncomfortable. You see, there are a lot of Filipinos who will use this to address any person who is a foreigner.
The origin of this was back in the World War 2, when US forces were in the Philippines, and were known as “GI Joe.” Now, it doesn’t matter what country you are from, if you are not Filipino, you are “Joe,” it’s automatic.
A lot of times, when you hear “Hey, Joe” being yelled at you, it feels sarcastic, said with a bit of contempt toward you. At other times, it is said with genuine affection. Many Filipinos love Americans (actually, I’d say that most do), and calling out “Hey Joe” is a term of endearment, no matter how it feels to you.
Well, as I said, whenever I would hear this, for many years, it bothered me. I didn’t like it. I am not Joe, and with the fact that sometimes it felt like a sarcastic way to address me, well, I felt uncomfortable and often ignored it.
Do you know how I got over it? I decided to start using the term myself! I say it as more of a joke, really. It all started when one day, a friend and I were driving down the street, and we saw a foreigner walking down the sidewalk. I was feeling kind of silly at the time, and I rolled down my window and yelled out at the guy, “Hey, Joe!” The guy looked over at me, and you could see the absolute shock on his face that another foreigner had yelled “Hey, Joe” to him! My friend and I broke out laughing, and even this other foreigner walking along the sidewalk was seen with a big grin on his face too!
So, now, not always, but fairly often, if I see a foreigner that I don’t know, I will give him a greeting of Hey, Joe” and it kind of breaks the ice. I think that so many of these foreigners hate being called “Joe” all the time that when another foreigner calls them by the name, it kind of jolts them a bit, and they see the humor in it. I know that it gives me a bit of a kick, and it also softens my feelings when Filipinos yell out to me….