The same goes for the people of the Philippines. If you think Filipinos are "always" one or more of the below, you might want to reconsider your beliefs.
Stereotype # 1: Filipino women are submissive.
Like Asian women in general, Filipinas are seen as soft-spoken, demure and obedient. They will gladly clean up for you, and clean up after you. In spite of these qualities, however, Filipino women have their steely side too.
Even before the concept of "feminism" reached Philippine shores, Filipinas have actively shaped the history of their country almost as much as their male counterparts have. You have:
- the female babaylan, the pre-colonial spiritual leaders whose blessing was essential to the male mandirigma (warriors) before the latter set out for war;
- Gabriela Silang, the first female leader of the 18th century independence movement against Spain, and whose statue stands at the corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues to this day;
- Melchora "Tandang Sora" Aquino, who risked her life housing Filipino revolutionaries in the late 19th century, thereby earning the nickname "Mother of the Revolution,"; and
- The many other Filipinas who shed their blood, sweat and tears in the service of their country.
Today, Filipinas continue to make their mark in their own country and abroad. It's no surprise that, as of 2015, the Philippines has the highest gender equality index in the Asia-Pacific region, and ranks seventh in the world behind Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Ireland and Rwanda.
Stereotype # 2: Filipinos like to eat balut.
If you haven't heard about it by now, balut is a fertilized duck egg that has been left to incubate for 17-18 days before being hardboiled. As a result, there's an embryo/fetus inside, which apparently ramps up its squick factor as far as foreigners — or, at least, Westerners — are concerned. The way it's portrayed in popular media, you'd think all Filipinos eat in on a daily basis!
Actually, that's only partly true. Yes, there are Filipinos who can't last a day without eating balut. But for most people, especially the cholesterol-conscious ones, balut is just a treat they indulge in once in a while. And, as hard as it is to believe, balut is one of the most delicious foods you'll ever eat, as long as you give it a chance — and as long as you don't look at the boiled fetus staring back at you!
Stereotype # 3: Filipinos are actually Mexican/Vietnamese/(insert other non-Filipino nationality here)
To be fair, most Filipinos don't look like stereotypical Asians. They're brown-skinned, pug-nosed and wide-eyed. It's easy to mistake them for other Southeast Asians and Mexicans, or to not pin them down to a particular nationality at all!
But, because of their long history intermarrying with foreigners — not just Westerners, mind you — Filipinos don't necessarily have a uniform appearance. If you visit Zambales, for example, you can see the dark-skinned, curly-haired Aetas, who are technically Filipino. If you go to a high-end subdivision like Forbes Park, you can see tall, light-skinned residents, who are also technically Filipino. You can't really pin down a particular "Filipino look," which can be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view.
Stereotype # 4: Filipinos are/aren't good in English
Most Filipinos have at least a grasp of conversational English. If you ask them things like "Where is (insert place here)?" or "Can I have (insert food here)?," they can hear you loud and clear. However, in terms of degree of English fluency, things get a little more complicated.
On the one hand, you have Filipinos who can communicate in English, but are clearly struggling with things like grammar and semantics. On the other hand, you have Filipinos who can speak English so fluently, you'd think they're native speakers. There are many factors that can affect fluency, including education, how often the person uses English in daily conversations, the language of the media the person usually consumes, etc. In case you're worried about language barriers, here are basic Filipino words/phrases you should know.
Stereotype # 5: All Filipinos are (insert adjective here)
Like other human beings on the planet, Filipinos are, well, human. Every one of them has their own quirks and flaws, which may or may not be informed by their culture. Some Filipinos are walking stereotypes, others may not conform to any stereotype at all.
In any case, the best way to understand Filipinos — and people in general, really — is to not make assumptions about them at all. For example, rather than asking "Is it true that Filipinos love eating balut?", ask "Do you like eating balut?" That way, you can have conversations that lead to better cultural understanding, and then some.