Monday, October 11, 2004

"And now, a word from our sponsors..."

I. The idea of home.
How do you welcome "home" someone who's never been "home"?
I define "home" as a place where you feel safe and secure, where your friends and family are; one can be born in his/her native country but consider "home" somewhere else. By reason of this, I cannot assume that Jasmine Trias accepts the Philippines as "home".

Those obstrusive banners all along the metro all welcome her "home", however incongruous that is. And what do you know, local politicos like Peewee Trinidad join in the bustle of welcoming our diminutive Filipina-Hawaiiana-Americana "home" as well.

There is something very strident in that a lovely and talented Hawaiian teenager is getting this much attention. No doubt, some sectors say that she deserves it. But the amount of media hype is unprecendented in recent history. Jasmine eats McDonald's, Jasmine calls through Smart. It may be only two ads, but two of the country's biggest companies have apparently erased the word "saturation" from their vocabulary. And they're milking her for all she's worth (not that I'm particularly surprised).

So these massive sponsors dictate to the masses who to appreciate and who to idolize. With respect to this, Adrian's essay is straight up: those who truly deserve to be appreciated and idolized are the ones shoved to the sides, oftentimes without a front-page news story about their efforts. Adrian cites Dr. Josette Biyo and Patricia Evangelista, and while I've seen the both of them get their much-deserved attention, their names fall on deaf ears for the ordinary masses.

Thanks to Jasmania, she won't lack for idolization, nor will she lack for appreciation. And she has acknowledged her pride of being born a Filipino. All things considered, however, this is not her home. It never has been.

*Julian of PiercingPens.tk has a related (and much better) article on Jasmania. Click here to read.

II. The idea of naturally beautiful.
Skinwhiteners bring with them a powerful message: white is beautiful. It's not a particularly ugly message, but for people who are naturally moreno/morena, this strikes too close to home in this country. Granted, we aren't the only country suffering from white-skin envy. Sellers in South Africa, for example, openly sell their wares on the markets advertising whitening creams, soaps, and even shampoos unfurling kinky hair.

I'm dark-skinned myself, but I've never had the urge to break open a bottle of whitening cream. I'm the darkest in my family (all the others are fair), but I've always loved the way I looked.

Splash Corporation, a wholly Filipino company, capitalizes on the typical Filipina insecurity of her dark skin. After having aired a controversial ad in which a fair-skinned mother had just given birth to her dark-skinned baby (it was shown later in the commercial that the mother had been using Bioderm), the forward company decided to air another ad, this one where the dark-skinned baby is now being prepared for her baptism.

That wasn't what caught my eye, however. It was the product tagline: "Naturally beautiful." What's more "naturally beautiful" than using whitening soap? The irony is too inherent, too paradoxical, too outlandish for words.

You'd think Splash Corporation would know better. Their company motto - "Bagong Pilipino, Maka-Pilipino. Kayang tumapat sa buong mundo" - is redolent of shame in this instance.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really find that series of splash commercial so stupid. it's blatant discrimination. and btw, splash's motto does not coincide with rumors of unfair labor practices among their employees. -sealdi

10:21 AM  
Blogger de Villa said...

Another irony is that white people here in Australia tan all day long in the beach to get nice and dark because they consider it exotic.

Maybe if Filipinas are actually educated why whitening products are not good for the skin (it destroys melanin) then maybe they won't buy it.

But then again educating people about the dangers of smoking didn't really help reduce smoke related illnesses/deaths.

In my opinion the key is to try get out of that "white is beautiful, white is wealth" mentality since this message seems to be saturated in Philippines

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi ^_^ I already linked you ^_^ hmm.. Jasmine.. I know Its not my nature anymore to hate people but I don't like Jasmine.. to tell you the truth, why? dunno.. I just don't feel her hehe @@

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to work in a booth in a mall in Virginia and beside me was a religious old lady, friend of mine who sells soaps and all those stuff. I asked her about whitening soaps, and she stared at me and said something about not changing what God gave me.. I was confused about this white lady speaking to me. Why do white people tan their skin then? Isn't it just the same?

12:18 AM  

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