I hear from a lot of different “non-Filipino residents of the Philippines” about being called one thing or another, and in most cases they don’t like it. Let’s look at a few of the things we might be called:
Foreigner: To me, I don’t mind being called a foreigner. As a matter of fact, I call others “foreigners” when I see them. I might say to Feyma – “Oh, there’s a foreigner over there!” Or something along those lines. I mean, after all, we are people who are from Foreign lands, and thus we are foreigners. Lately here on this blog there has been talk that some of us don’t like the name “Foreigner,” but honestly I don’t understand why that would be. I mean, I see no instance where the word “Foreigner” would mean anything derogatory.
Ex-Pat: A while back, I got together with a guy, and I mentioned something about “Ex-Pat” and he went ballistic! He said – “That term, Ex-Pat, has to go!” I was shocked. He explained to me that to him, the word meant that he was “ex-Patriotic” and that by moving abroad, he no longer loved his country of origin (United States of America in his case). I believe that in all honesty, he simply didn’t understand that the name has nothing to do with being patriotic, it just means a person who is living in a country other than where he holds citizenship.
“Joe” : Now, this particular one does push my buttons. I don’t like being called “Joe.” But, I understand that it is not really a put down, it’s just what many people here have been taught to call “foreigners.” I don’t like it, but I don’t get upset about it like I used to.
Kano: Kano is just the Filipino word for “American.” It is not derogatory in the least. It is like me saying that my friend, John is British. No harm meant, and none should be taken. All foreigners should keep in mind that no matter what country you are from, if you are a foreigner, you will be called “Kano.” Whether you are German, Dutch, Australian or whatever, you are a Kano!
Oh, there are other names that can be used too. Maybe some are derogatory, but none of the ones that I mentioned above are. I see no reason to get all upset about being called any of those things. Recently, some on this blog have complained about each of those listed above.
Let me ask you this: what should people here call you? If one guy doesn’t like “Foreigner” and another doesn’t like “Kano” and a third guy doesn’t like “Joe” then how will all the people know which one you don’t like? I am pretty confident that if your average Filipino on the streets knows that you don’t care to be called “Foreigner” they will avoid using it. But, how would they know? The word is not a put down, or anything. I actually think that most people here would consider calling you a “foreigner” as a sign of respect if nothing else.
My advice about this whole issue is to just lighten up, accept the term you are called as a sign of friendship, and get on with you life. If people didn’t like you, or want to engage you, they would just walk by without uttering anything. The fact that they want to greet you (even in a way that you might not like) is just a sign of friendliness, and interest in you.