Team Kayumanggi

As a child, I have always been conscious of my skin color. Being a Filipino, I was born with a natural caramel color — kayumanggi, morena.

Back in Grade School, I ran for a post in out Student Government and lost to a mestiza. I went home crying to my Papa. I was crying because, to my mind, my opponent won because she was maputi (fair-skinned) and I was dark-skinned. She won not because she was matalino (intelligent) and fit for the job but because the electorate thought she was more beautiful given her skin color. Ginawang beauty pageant yung elections (The elections became a beauty pageant), I said in tears as I related my sad fate to Papa.

In High School, my long-time crush made MUs (mutual understanding) with mestizas.¬†And my teachers favored only two types of students: the intelligent ones and the mestizas. If you fall in neither category, you’re no one. Poor you.

So growing up, I scrubbed and rubbed myself with whitening everything — whitening soap, whitening lotion, whitening cream, whitening scrub — a in whitening EVERYTHING. I immersed myself with literature about whitening ingredients and compounds found in most beauty products. I bought over-the-counter glutathione which did improve my skin color from brown to a lighter shade of brown.¬†Once I stopped layering them on and swallowing bottlefulls of capsule, my skin color went back to its original tint — brown brown.

I gave up on the ‘whitening road’ when I had no more money to buy these whitening products realized that my skin color will never ever change. Although how much I bathe myself in whiteness, my DNA will always ruin everything show off my true skin color.

I realized, too, that we do have our preferences and it varies according to how we were able to perceive the world around us. You see,¬†Filipinos perceive mestizas¬†as beautiful. The Caucasians, on the other hand, see our caramel hue as beautiful. They call it tan. We call it ‘sunburnt’.

When Papa worked overseas, he came across ‘white’ women. True, they had creamy white skin and their irises varied from green, to blue, to grey. However, they envied how Papa’s Filipina workmates glowed amid the sea of ‘white’ people. When Papa showed my picture to his colleagues, one quipped that “Your daughter is gorgeous!”

Wow. Gorgeous. Adjective para sa model yun ah. No Filipino has ever called me gorgeous. Not even my parents. Hahahaha. ūüėÄ

So in college, I aced my classes with straight A’s. I’ll show you people. Black is beautiful.¬†I always sat in the front row and made perfect, if not the highest scores in quizzes and exams. Kung di kayang dalhin sa puti at ganda, dalhin sa talino. It was my mantra. I kept repeating it to myself until I graduated With Honors, while the ‘beautiful ones’ wore their togas¬†well, beautifully.

In local show business, we o have kayumanggi women who stand out among our glutathione-fed artists.

Bianca Gonzales

Angel Aquino

Miriam Quiambao

Tweetie De Leon

So all right, being morena/ kayumanggi/ caramel/ brown/ maitim ain’t bad at all. It’s not a sin. It’s part of our genetic material. We were created that way precisely because God wanted each of us to look in our most beautiful. After all, we were created in His image and likeness. What’s there not to love in us?

“Though burned by the sun, I am beautiful in His sight.”

Songs 1:5

So bask in your color. Be it white, brown or black. Be comfortable in your skin. Embrace your skin color. It will surely embrace you back.

I remain.

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