It is estimated that there are 359,000 Filipinos living in Boston, Massachusetts. Many are respected professionals and have worked their way up to become successful and law-abiding citizens of the city.
Like many Filipino Americans elsewhere, the Filipino Bostonians have had their share of discrimination and racial bias — a reality still much alive in modern-day America.
So when the Vice President of the Philippines goes on her radio program to say that while in Boston to help her Harvard-bound daughter set up her apartment, she went garbage-hunting, looking for still-usable items that people have thrown into the trash, it strikes a sour note among FilAms.
Not that there is anything wrong with garbage-diving. In most states in the U.S., it is not even illegal — unless it happens inside private property, in which case it would constitute trespassing.
But if it is done by the second highest official of a country who dismisses it as “that’s what we do in America,” then it does not only insult Americans but causes undue embarrassment to FilAms.
We can only second-guess what was on Robredo’s mind when she talked about her garbage-diving in Boston during her radio program. Perhaps it was to show her believers that she is a person from the laylayan — the less fortunate and abandoned members of Philippine society — who are struggling to make a decent living. Yes, even resorting to searching the trash to make ends meet.
But for someone who can afford to send her daughter to Harvard while being able to travel abroad at her leisure, laylayan doesn’t seem a description that fits her.
And by the way, Madam Robredo, “that’s not what we do in America.” Well, at least not most of us Filipinos. In Boston or elsewhere.
In case you didn’t know, we go to IKEA and buy stuff. Assembly required, of course!