What is Skittles in Tagalog?

Have you seen the new Skittles commercial?

If you thought you heard Tagalog, you were right!  If you couldn’t figure out what the other guy was yelling, you were also right — it wasn’t in Filipino — it is actually Thai!

I COULD say that the mostly ignorant bastards in the ad world assume that since we look the same and sound the same (TO THEM), that there is no difference between Filipinos and Thais (or Vietnamese, Malaysians, Indonesians and Chinese for that matter).

But then again, that could be me being over-sensitive.  

What do you think?


– Leonard Cervantes, Media Assassin/Maasim


~ by Leonard on March 3, 2009.

5 Responses to “What is Skittles in Tagalog?”

  1. I think the video is friggin hilarious, but the humour distracts us from what Len had to say. I can’t decide whether the producers of the commercial knew they were using both Thai and Filipino, or if they grouped them into the same category. The slogan is “reflect the rainbow, taste the rainbow”, which we could take to tie in with multiculturalism. As a funny commercial, it works. Even if you don’t understand Tagalog, watching it a few times will give you the gist of what the Filipino guy is saying.

    What I’m concerned about is why is it the white guy outside the mirror? Is it us, the minorities, who are always imitating? You know, being in the mirror and all? Why can’t one of us be on the outside?

    Underrepresentation in the media. Where else do you see an asian actor in the main starring role in Hollywood besides an ethnically themed movie?

  2. Videos and little things like this we should just take it in stride.(remember that commercials are just a bunch of fluff)Stereotyping will always be present, and whether we like it or not, it is also how people define the uniqueness and the differences of one race to another.

    What we need to do is to just show people that there is more than just meets the eye.

    Be yourself, always recognize your heritage, and live your life.

  3. I respectfully disagree. Society must first change through its institutions. Sociology work has proved that. When civil rights activists lobbied for change, they found that erasing barriers by removing colour-specific bathrooms had a trickle-down effect to the citizens in even the most racist areas of the US. If you change the laws, people’s minds will change to reflect it.

    Just because stereotypes are present, it doesn’t mean we should be content to leave them be – “bahala na”. Stereotypes may seem like a small problem but they lead to bigger and more substantial woes. Since working with the disability advocacy office at my school, I’ve learned that stereotypes can be the root of all evil. For example, many people subscribe to the belief that people with disabilities are to be pitied – it is a horrible existence being disabled. Really? Many people with disabilities actually do enjoy life to the maximum. Instead, disability policy almost always seeks to cure the disability instead of fostering a greater understanding and coexistence with the disability.

    In the same way, if people always think of us Filipinos in a less than positive light, we will never be able to bridge the gap. The best of us will always be admired for being “that Filipino who made it” instead of just being admired as a hard working person. I don’t want to be judged based on the colour of my skin. I want to be judged based on my own merits.

  4. You are right.

    However, I am speaking for myself when I say that law nor scripture is not my basis for being treated as an equal but only myself. I was not one to care about my being Filipino nor me being a minority here. Then I started to look around and see how bad it is here in Canada that some Filipino’s have forgotten their language nor do they have any sense of any Filipino customs as doing the Mano(Bless using hands) and the Po and Opo.

    Those Filipino traditions that were not really upheld here didn’t bother me much, but the only thing that bothers me is the question on why some study about the Philippines and become a Filipino only in face-value? I also dream of a Utopian society where all are treated as equal as the next but if the parts cannot hold their own, then the whole doesn’t really change as much. Those people who you said “made it” are the ones who have forgotten to look back and just continued on forward.

    I’d like to end again reflecting on Jose Rizal, and I am certain that through his course of travels and successes he though of just living his own life and not risking it for his country. But his greatness lies with him believing that the Philippines is worth dying for and I just hope that his efforts are not put into vain.

    And if you already have noticed, you never will see me wearing a Filipino T-shirt not because I’m not proud of my heritage but because I believe that it is the person that can show you who he is, not what he is wearing.

    *Again, you are absolutely right with the laws and everything. I hope that those things happen too.

  5. Marc: It’s true that stereotypes are all-pervasive, but that doesn’t mean that we should flippantly dismiss them or simply take them in stride. Many if not all stereotypes gesture to a lot of underlying assumptions about certain groups of people, and their circulation doesn’t always come with a disclaimer that they are intended to be humorous. You say that stereotypes are “how people define the uniqueness and the differences of one race to another.” The problem lies in the definition because unfortunately some perceive stereotypes as shorthand for understanding specific races, diminishing whatever nuance or difference that one could appreciate. For example, the age-old stereotypes of Pinays as nannies and mail-order brides (or subservient types) arguably overshadow all else when it comes to representation of Pinays. Personally, it isn’t easy for me to dismiss that with a chuckle or a shrug.

    Moreover, I pay attention to ads because nothing about them is neutral. Advertising reflects and informs (in every sense of the word) a given society’s fears, desires, values and hopes. Of course people do not simply — and passively — accept images shown to them, but for the most part, we all have varying levels of susceptibility. I think it’s absolutely important to be critical of advertising because ads are historical and sociopolitical/cultural snapshots. Not too long ago, it was perfectly acceptable to have blatantly racist ads for a variety of products. For examples, go here: http://www.slate.com/id/2164062/slideshow/2164626/fs/0//entry/2164628/

    So how does the Skittle ad relate to all this? Well, it’s not jaw-droppingly offensive, but it does have some features that make one go, “Hmm…” Dylan already mentioned that men of color are reflections of the white male subject. Is this funny because of the obvious physical disparity between the white male customer and his apparent mirror images? Are we supposed to infer empowerment from this because viewed in the most benign light, the mirror imaging implies equality involving various races? If we assume this is aired in Southeast Asian countries, then Pinoys and Thai people are in on the joke (assuming of course that everyone is familiar with Tagalog — even this assumption is problematic because we have like a kajillion regional languages). If aired in North America, and assuming that an average, middle-class white person watches the ad, would the language gap be evident to the viewer? And if reversed — if the heated exchange occurs between an Icelandic and a Norwegian — could I confidently state that I, a person of color who has no understanding of these languages, would be able to get it? Would it be an issue?

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