Filipino women mop bad images in cyberspace

With two female presidents in the past two decades, the Philippines seems to have granted women respect and equal footing with men in politics. But on the Internet, type in the word “Filipina”, meaning Filipino women, in search engines more than often yields something less respectful.

On either Google or Yahoo search engine, the top 10 search results under “Filipina” are dominated by fishy dating sites promoting “sexy” Filipino women as ideal girlfriends, wives or partners.

Photos of Filipina beauties abound on these sites, enticing mostly foreign visitors to become a member. With the monthly cost of around 30 US dollars, the members can have the direct contact numbers of the ladies.

The word “Filipina” is so popular among the Internet populace that it even has a special spot in those nasty porn websites.

If a similar search is done using key words like “Indian”, ” Malaysian”, “Russian” or more Latin-sounding “Italiana” and ” Mexicana”, there is no reference to women of these nationalities or even women-related entries in the first 10 results.

It was precisely this that prompted Noemi Dado, 51, a professional blogger and new media publisher, to start blogging about the need to re-shape and re-define the “sexy” Filipina image.

Last June, Dado and her friends founded the Filipina Images blog portal http://www.filipinaimages.com to write about the positive and inspiring entries about Philippine women and encourage all other bloggers in cyberspace to do the same.

By simply including “Filipina” somewhere in the title of their positive entries, these women warriors hope to reshape the Philippine woman’s image by capitalizing on their wholesomeness aspect of the same word used to malign it.

“Dignity is every person’s human right,” Dado said. “We seek to balance the Filipina images that are available online. We share our reflections about what the Filipina of the future could be like, too.”

Dado said whether the Filipina is a mother, a nanny, a decision maker in the corporate arena, a domestic service professional, or a mail order bride, they have the right to empower themselves through education, and to gain equal rights in the household and the workplace.

But Dado’s crusade meets challenges from inside the very group it intends to help.

Considered shy, modest and loyal in general, while maintaining the traditional virtue of a woman to run all family chores, Filipino women are a natural attraction to some Westerners, not to mention the notable high English literacy here compared with other Asian countries.

And it is also regarded as a pro for Filipinas, especially in provinces, if they are able to marry outside and help lift the family out of poverty with greenbacks of their husbands or boyfriends.

Dado said she got anonymous feedbacks posted on the Filipina Images blog that reads “There is no such thing as this campaign would shape the Filipina images. WE ARE ALREADY KNOWN TO BE THE GOLD DIGGER” of this era. There is no way you can stop our fellow Filipinas to go online and search for their financial fortune or even a soul mate.”

The anonymous post said Dado should not crush the sites “that are helping most of our fellow Filipinas to look for their greener pasture by getting online.”

Jean Enriquez, Executive Director of the network of global feminist groups, The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women — Asia (CATW), said that this is a view point such as this is another manifestation of colonial mentality where these dating sites represent hope.

“I wouldn’t blame the women (who may have voluntarily put themselves on the website), but it is a situation of hopelessness, where there is no other way out of poverty except through marriage to a foreigner,” Enriquez said.

Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General of Gabriela National Alliance of Women in the Philippines, another non-governmental group advocating women’s rights, said the activities can go beyond ‘ dating’ and may be just another way of earn money, especially in the middle of a financial crisis when people are losing their jobs and become more desperate.

Facing these challenges, it may be a long time still before the on-line image of the Filipina is shaped, but Dado and her co- founders of Filipina Images, remain hopeful and are encouraged by the little things that show that they are starting to make a dent in cyberspace.

“One of our successes is that when you Google the word ‘ Filipina’, you will find us in the first five pages of the search engine results,” Dado said.

Dado’s group is also joining hands with wikipilipinas.org, a special portal called the Encyclopedia of Philippine Women, which compiled the achievements and triumphs of Filipinas worldwide.

By having an online platform to showcase Filipina intelligence and talent, the goal of developing more empowered Filipinas at least becomes achievable, Dado said.

Philstar

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4 thoughts on “Filipino women mop bad images in cyberspace

  1. The bad images of Filipino women in the cyberspace is a very alarming reality. How can others consider this situation as if its not a big deal. For some, they have even profit and take advantage from it…But, certainly, this is a very serious problem that has jeopardize our dignity as women and pride as Filipinos. After reading the article above, I then tried searching the internet, typing the word ‘Filipina’ and I really felt embarrassed with with I saw… It is very saddening to note that the Maria Clara image of the Filipino women has been changed. I am referring to the image changed not by the new fashion threads but by the image changed by the desire to escape poverty through the easiest possible way. It is very frustrating to see that Filipino women are associated with those who will unhesitatingly provide pleasure and become a girlfriend, instant wife or a partner for those who are looking online.

    We should reshape the image of the Filipino women with the identity that will bring us back our worth and dignity as persons created in the image and likeness of God. This dignity is therefore, inherent and we should defend it. This is a bloodless revolution that I believe, must be participated by every Filipino woman: to regain the true image of a Filipina. We should be known as people who are talented, intelligent, honest and God-loving ladies, wives, clergywomen, professionals or whatever role we will choose. We must be respected…

    Thanks to all those people behind the efforts of reshaping the Filipina image online…We can all do something that would be of help…Certainly, there’s a lot to tell, something good to tell about Filipino women…good enough to inspire the world!

  2. Hi,

    I really like this article. Through this article I saw the website that inspired me to write a blog about my concerns regarding filipina images in the internet.

    I am really glad and proud of the people who dedicate time for this kind of issues in order to change something in this world.

  3. I am now working on my Dissertation about the Filipino women , I am also so alarmed by the blogs about the Filipino women and a bit exasperated with the promotions on Filipina beauties , commodifying women , Filipinas especifically . My study would hopefully improve the image of the Filipino women. For many really are educated ….

  4. In order to avoid portraying itself as having any bias or particular attraction, dating sites (for instance) should not advertise themselves as being “Asian” or “Filipina.”

    Truly, a Filipina is a mixture of many wonderful character traits, including – strong, intelligent and ambitious – the spectrum is as broad as it is long – surely it would be folly to generalise in any way – but dating sites will only contain a more representative selection of people when the sites themselves stop being nationality specific.

    Any form of “branding” will increase the risk of attracting specific types of people – of either sex – it’s easier to change a brand name than it is to change a deeply engrained myth.

    There again – while these risks do still exist, perhaps it could be considered safer to contain the “risk” within certain known, “branded” sites.

    Unfortunately, because of artificially generated myths online being perpetuated about the Filipina the world has got the image completely wrong, for the most part – and is ignorant of what can lie just beneath the surface.

    Many Filipinas and many of these dating sites purposely hide behind the mask of this myth – that they themselves promote – because it suits their aim.
    There are websites and tour operators (many operated by non-native Philippine business concerns) who promote the Filipina as a commodity, emphasising only those characteristics that increase the lure. As a consequence of this perception, there are some Filipinas who are just out to scam people – to “better” themselves, or their families, financially.

    Of course there are the innocent who fall prey to the unscrupulous – and this occurs both ways between the sexes.
    A lot of these sites, inevitably, pander to the lowest common denominator and do attract a disgusting type of man – which creates, in turn, a feedback of contempt – which is self-perpetuating.

    One cannot only stand on the side of the “Innocent” Filipina – ignoring the fact that many a western man has been pricked by a poisonous needle while fumbling amongst the hay.

    There are all sorts of gold-diggers – some relatively harmless – some who simply and honestly want to better themselves.
    But there are those who use deceit and manipulation as well.
    Not all have the luxury to afford a conscience in this matter – there are many who see the Internet as a quick fix to financial deprivation – ignoring the morality – ignoring the deprivation of their soul.

    There is nothing at all amiss about charity – it is the deception that often accompanies the requests for money that puts them in a different & unacceptable league.

    Any form of regulation on dating sites can realistically only happen “post-trauma” – by whistle blowing and banning – but perception – the word on the street – is a far more powerful deterrent than the promise of merely piecemeal, punitive measures – and will unfairly tarnish genuine & innocent people, keeping them away from these websites – thereby intensifying the ratio of undesirables who will remain.

    This perception will only change when shameful activities by both western men and Filipinas are minimised.
    They bring the shame upon themselves.

    A paradoxical situation that cannot be resolved while there is money to be made from Filipinas – and while they continue to be selectively and aggresively marketed as a commodity.

    The Philippines, both fiscally and socially, seems prepared to turn a blind eye – as it brings money on to the streets, into the shops.
    There seems to be a defensive, protective attitude – which goes beyond simply a national pride – it’s almost as if the reputation of a business is at stake.
    Just how many people have got their fingers in this pot?
    The variety of ways that Filipinas can be “marketed” – is endless – they seem to be regarded – and there are some who seem to imagine themselves – as a natural resource.
    After all, beautiful women – are never going to go out of fashion as an attraction, a lure – there’s a good, constant supply – and it’s easier work than selling coconuts or mangos.

    So the myth is protected – the shopfront is kept nice and clean – as it were. That shopfront is right here on the Internet, where it appears to be on an industrial scale.

    While there is money to be earned, individually or corporately, I fear that any attempts to adjust the situation will be purely cosmetic.

    Ultimately, as usual, it is the government who hold all the cards in this and many other matters. Will it become a democratic government with the people’s interests at heart – with true freedom of the press – a judicial system that is untainted by partiality & corruption. Unless it does, little will happen.
    The poverty will remain – criminal and dubious activities will continue to be encouraged in its shadow.

    The enormity of the above challenge is the most serious and daunting concern for the majority of the population – most especially the impoverished & powerless.

    But there are too many people, all the way up the ladder, who are self-satisfied and content with the staus quo.

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