Are people really born equal?
Coming from a third world country and experiencing living in 3 first world countries (Australia, Spain and America), I'd be lying to you if I give YES as an answer. Not that I'm a hater. It's just a known fact that life will always be harder for those not born blonde and blue eyes with a strong passport.
Being somehow privileged in the Philippines shielded me from this harsh reality in my youth. I never knew that such struggles existed. I was blessed to come from a well-off family that could afford to send me to a prestigious university in Manila. And I got lucky from being to able to land into the world of commercials, TV and movies as a result of tremendous hard work and good networking skills. I did have a fair advantage in the home court. But all of that didn't matter when I actually lived in first world countries especially America where people are overly competitive and patriotic.
I experienced my first share of being "underprivileged" when I was applying for travel visas everywhere. I remember being rejected the first time I applied for a tourist visa in the US because according to the interviewer, my job as an artist sounds unstable despite being able to show sufficient funds. And although I did get approved on my second application along with Australia and Europe thereafter, each process was a royal pain in the butt.
I had to always constantly prove that I had funds, I had a stable business or job, I was completely healthy and will not bring some deadly virus in and that I had no plans to stay illegally or hijack the airplane or commit some sort of terrorism. I had to jump through all sorts of hoops to convince embassies that I'm just a normal and sane woman who could afford to travel and wanted to see what their country is about. No hidden agenda, bomb plans or monkey business underneath.
Then when I finally got the chance to travel and met fellow travelers from first world countries, I was shocked to hear that they can hop on the plane just like that. No background check needed, no intimidating interviews, no presenting of financial and health documents months before traveling, NOTHING. Just them having that blue passport gives them the "travel anywhere" privilege even if they're so broke or in major debt.
People often ask how I was able to jump around different countries for many years. Here's the truth: I spent A LOT to sustain that lifestyle. Up to the point where I used up everything I saved from show business and almost went broke. I never regretted it though as I was investing on experience and getting cultured. But again, I was shocked to hear from my English co-bartenders that they are privileged with a working holiday visa that enables them to work legally while traveling in Australia for 1 year.
There they were... in debt and broke as hell, but being able to work and didn't have to spend for anything besides their flights. While there I was, who had to pay A LOT of tuition fee in a college in Sydney just so I could get a student visa so I can legally stay and work for a year in the land down under. On top of that, I had to go through the tedious process of presenting all sorts of documents, do some poking in the hospital and pass hard tests just so I could be allowed in.
Same with Spain. I took the student visa route, paid A LOT in a language school in Madrid so I can stay for a longer period and travel around Europe. It wasn't like an impulsive "book the flight, pack my bags and live in Europe" kinda' thing. There was actual hard work of collecting proofs, documents and spending money just so I can try what the first world country passport holders get to experience with very minimal effort and spending.
Oh and don't get me started with living in a first world country and tackling on the workforce as an immigrant. What I'm realizing is that no matter how good looking I am, how many languages I speak, how well-traveled and polite I am, how educated I am back in my country, how savvy I am financially and how great my talents and skills are, the hard pill to swallow is that I AM NOT THEIR PEOPLE and THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY BUT THEIRS. So they will always, always give tips, priorities, attention, promotion and credits to their fellow white tribe. It doesn't matter if the truth is I'm actually better than most of them. The point is I'M NOT AMERICAN and I'M NOT FROM AMERICA so I will never get that immediate approval. The only way to get it is to go above and beyond to prove myself that I'm worthy of those credits. Again, it goes back to jumping off the hoops to convince the first world I'm just a sane woman trying to go for my dream, make a decent living and experience the quality life that I deserve.
I've had LOTS of disheartening experiences pertaining to all of this... getting stared at or inspected thoroughly at immigration borders whereas the white travelers just breeze their way in, not getting as much tips or deserved promotion working in the hospitality industry compared to my white colleagues even if I was performing way better than they were, white men always assuming I'm after their green card or the "American life" that's why I want to date them, being turned down for an English teaching offer the moment they found out I was a Filipino passport holder and not American despite my TEFL certification and crystal clear English, not getting prioritized at service-oriented places compared to white customers and being questioned why I'm well-educated and well-traveled as if I don't have the right to acquire them and it's only the first world country passport holders who should have those privileges.
For a while, I harbored resentment on this. Each and every time I experience a let down because of my third world country roots, I cry and question WHY THE FUCK WAS I NOT BORN PRIVILEGED? But over time, maturity and experience, I've come to accept that it is what it is. Life is a random deck of cards. I was placed by destiny to be born in a third world country so I'll have to suck it up and carry that cross.
And as I am aspiring and working my way on becoming a inspirational influencer based in San Diego, I am well-prepared with the possibility that it may take a very long time for me to get the recognition and credits I deserve... or maybe, just maybe, I'll never get it at all. It will never be easy for a third world immigrant like me to penetrate the global market. But I've learned to constantly remind myself that this is my soul's true calling so I'll keep swinging hard in case I hit it. I will not let my brown race and underprivileged passport stop me from doing my thing. If it doesn't happen, WHO CARES? I'm going for it anyway for passion's sake.
But in the name of curiosity, I still can't help but wonder... What if I was born privileged? Would I have had a better life? Would I have had more education, experiences and advantages to excel? Would I have traveled more? Would I have gotten recognition and credits for my hard work and talent by now? Or perhaps the opposite and just became complacent and immune with all these privileges and not appreciate it but rather, complain over little things just like how most first world country residents do? I wonder.
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