I understand the protest, but I also think Filipinos need to examine their attitudes toward "white-ness." Skin-whitening cosmetic products are disturbingly popular in the Philippines, and many people openly speak of a fair complexion and European/Western features as beauty ideals. I don't know the answer to this, but do the exaggerated Caucasian features in Japanese animation stem from similar attitudes?
And then there's that other touchy / forbidden topic: why has the Asian female/Caucasian male couple become almost cliché? (There are numerous internet reflections on this phenomenon.) I am part of the trend. I remember how violated I felt when an Asian-American man in my residency program saw a picture of my kids and then questioned my reasons for marrying my husband, implying that his white skin trumped any other reasons I might have fallen in love with him, like his values, his compassion, his intelligence, and his good character.
So, are we proud of our "ethnic identity," or do we envy another? Did we express outrage at Filipinos cookies out of self-respect, or does the name bother us (or not bother us) because for some Filipinos, it actually contains a grain of truth? Sometimes there can be a fine line betwee self-love and self-loathing. I think the major problems with the cookie name are its use of skin color as a way to categorize people and its failure to represent Filipinos in general in a meaningful way. But I also think there's still a lot of ambivalence in our country around these identity issues. One commentator notes:
"I remember it being reported in the press, one person saying she (as a Filipina herself) thought there was nothing wrong with [the cookie name] since, (she was of the opinion), most Filipinos wish they had been born white anyway (!) Of course, many others did and do not hold such a view.
"But one wonders why anyone would say in the first place that any Asian would wish to have been ‘born white’. Is it a reference to culture or simply to the standard of living associated with the 1st (read: white) world? I think it is true to say that Filipinos are viewed by some other Asians as being more westernised than them, particularly with regard to American influences. And often this is viewed as something negative."
This commentator hypothesizes that a desire for "white" culture or living standards lies at the root of white-envy, but I thinks it's simpler: looking white, for whatever reason, seems to have been an advantage in the world. So in several countries, not just the Philippines, people buy creams or lotions to rub onto their skin to lighten it. What I don't understand is why racism of this kind - not just the perceived inferiority of non-whites by white people, but also the perceived superiority of whites by non-whites - exists and persists.