Belo with No White Skin

“How are you related to Vicky Belo?”

I’ve always been proud of my family name. Thanks to Vicky Belo! My family name has turned into a brand name for beauty. I support her cause as what she said in an interview, “para maging patas naman ang laban.” Her self-esteem issues as a kid is somehow inspiring for people who think they are physically inferior.

Then Belo came up ad campaigns for their skin whitening products and services. They picked celebrity endorsers like Sarah Geronimo who now has noticeable fairer skin  than she used to have. While I still enjoy the popularity of my name ( Belo is  a family name easy to remember), I am afraid that my family name may be associated with white skin,(which apparently I don’t have)

I have nothing against people who want to enhance their appearance. After all, to innovate is to be empowered. At some point in our lives, we are not satisfied with our weight, hair, and height. We want to remove some moles, freckles, and blemishes. While it may be necessary to use science in addressing these personal needs, I don’t think changing skin color can make a big difference. Of all the possible things you can do to improve your looks, enhancing your skin color is the least reasonable. I don’t even understand why there is such a business for whitening products. No matter how many times you used Papaya soap, you will never be white enough to look like a mestiza. I am not arguing that morena skin is better. There is no superiority in colors, only in perceptions. But what am I trying to say there is something wrong with you when you don’t like your skin color. It speaks so much of your self-concept and worldview.

Well, if you think you are fat, it can be attributed to excess calories or the amount of food you eat. If a pimple grows on your cheek, it is because of oily food and lack of sleep. If you apply hot oil and other treatment to your hair, it’s fine. Your hair just needs tender loving care. If you want to remove your eye bags,  I totally understand. But if you go to a dermatologist and pay her to inject something to turn  your skin into white (eg Michael Jackson), that is something I cannot comprehend.

Unlike pimples, scars, unruly hair, and fats, our skin color is part of who we are. It is not a result of proper hygiene and styling but it is an inheritance. We are products of our past. It is the color that has been passed through many generations.  In the Philippines, we often associate beautiful people with white skin. This is another effect of colonial mentality. If you look like our country’s former oppressors,  the more you are perceived pretty. I don’t get it. We find Filipinos mixed with foreign blood pleasing to the eyes when their categorical looks resemble people who once enslaved us. These are my random thoughts on colonial mentality.

When you are not proud of your skin color, you are not proud of your heritage, your history, and maybe your family. If you are half Filipino and half Australian, you should be proud of your fair skin.  People can see that love surpasses cultural differences through your skin color. It can even symbolize united nations or world peace. On the other hand, if you are a pure Filipino with tanned skin, you should also be proud. Your color has been preserved throughout many generations. It is a collective effort of people who love their race. It is the color of your forefathers who fought for revolution. Lapulapu who fought Magellan by the seas of Mactan, most probably had the same shade of color as you have.

TV commercials make us feel inferior with our summer skin but wait, are our feelings towards our skin valid? Why feel bad when our color represents the majority of Filipinos?

embrace your color
love the skin you’re in

Some of the things I write here may sound funny but is it not laughable that we try to change what remains permanent, and that we try to cure our skin color as if it is a skin disease? Our skins don’t need a remedy but our minds need a solution.

Help the Universe

Vote me for President 😀

If you take the literal definition of public service, it means service rendered for public (interest). If it is for the common good, then it is public service.

My idea on public service deals with individualism, apathy and perhaps pro-elitism yet it is a very practical, applicable, and simple principle. My idea stems from candidates for national election, who often say, they want to help and serve their country men when asked , “Why do you want to run for president/ mayor/ senator?”  Can you not serve the people by being a private citizen? Do you really have to run for a government position to be of service?

Here’s what I’m thinking. Between a city mayor, who takes care of his city but keeps large sums of money for himself and a trash collector, who works hard to feed his family, who is a better citizen? It is not because you are a leader, you are contributing more. It is not because you belong to an institution which aims to protect the state, it means you are helping the nation.

Here’s my formula for public service.

“When you do good, do you your best, do what is right, you are already making a big contribution to the society. ”

As what I said, my idea sounds élite, self-centered, and apathetic yet very practical, applicable, and simple. But with my formula, anybody can be of help. Anybody can be significant. You do not need to rally on the streets to be catalyst for change. Though it sounds easy, it is not really applied by most of us. Hence, my three-step in making big contribution to the society is one of the most difficult things to do.

Do good.

Sometimes, the people who are in need of our kindness is within our periphery. We are often farsighted. Kindness is not only about helping victims of natural disaster. It would be an act of hypocrisy and irony if you send cash and goods to victims of flood but cannot even give alms to your hungry brother, neighbor, and friend. Sometimes people think big without having enough introspection and reflection. I remember talking to someone who was teary as she shared her sympathy for the victims of Sendong. She suggested we should form a group to give some donation for the victims. I thought of her condition. She had nothing to eat, no coins in her pocket. She had a lot of debts to pay. I was thinking that the biggest help she can give to this world is not giving donation but to get a job, work hard, and improve her life. Kindness does not have to be in big package all the time.

Do your best.

This one is the hard part. Most of us settle on mediocrity because of convenience. And just because one dream failed us, we do not give our best on what we have. For instance, some of us may have dreamed of becoming lawyers, doctors, nurses, actors, and painters. Due to unwanted circumstances, these dreams remain dreams. Some lack drive to improve themselves because they feel they are the unluckiest people on earth. But as what Joel Osteen said, “Bloom where you are planted.”

I go back to the whole meaning of “public service.” I have nothing against TV celebrities running for government position. But my point is: If you’re an actor and you do your best to perfect your craft, you are already making a big contribution not only to the film industry but to the country as well.”

As what Plato said in The Republic, “We will not let our cobblers go to war. For we might not have the best shoes.” Plato might have already regarded shoes as basic needs. In short, we need all kinds of people who are at their best. If we apply this principle today, we will not let Lito Lapid be a senator because lawmaking is not his expertise. Making great movies is equally significant as making laws.

Do what is right.

I go back to my question: “Between a city mayor, who takes care of his city but keeps large sums of money for himself and a trash collector, who works hard to feed his family, who is a better citizen?” Sometimes, a virtuous act is enough to be useful in this world.

Bottom line: When you help yourself, you help the universe. Each of us has a domino effect in this world. We do not need to be philanthropists to make a difference. If you can be a leader of an NGO, why not? If you can be the president of the world why not? But they are not the only ones responsible for the health of the universe. Focus on what you can do. If you are a housewife, be the best wife and best mother. And you will make your children productive citizens someday.  If you are a comedian, make  as many jokes as you can. Then, you will make a lot of people happy. If you are a government official, don’t just be satisfied in the projects you make. But live a life that can be an example to others. It is not about the nature of your work. It’s about what you can offer.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing himself”

-Leo Tolstoy