I have personally experienced racism, discrimination and oppression here in my country and especially abroad. This is oddly because of the color or my skin, my Malay/Pacific-islander features as well as the weird sounding accent that I have when I speak the English language. And often times, here in my country, our warm hospitality is often abused by the flat-out bad travelers of a more dominant race. And when abroad, I had personally felt the quiet laughter and the subtle disgust exhibited by the more dominant race towards me.
Digressing a little, recent local news featured a newly opened bar in Washington DC. It gained interest here in my country because the bar was named Barkada, a Filipino word which means “a group of close friends”. Though named after a Filipino word, the bar & resto has nothing else about the Philippines. One would expect that it would offer something Filipino – cuisine, beverage, music, interiors, etc. – but surprisingly none.
This rouse some flak and negative reactions from my fellow Filipinos who posted unenthusiastic and superfluous comments on the social media account of Barkada (the bar). It seems like a case when the Filipinos and not the dominant race are the oppressors and the unfair.
Some Filipinos would accuse the 4 Caucasian owners of cultural appropriation since not one of them were from the Philippines. Other snow-flaked Filipinos would demand that the owners have to change the name because it has no relevant ties with the Philippines. And even accused the owners for taking from a culture that is not theirs and that these Caucasians are asserting again their being so entitled.
These juvenile and aggravating reactions made the owners published an apology to Filipinos who felt slighted. Yet their impressive statement was on point when they explained the beauty in the word barkada that prompted them to use it as the name of their establishment.
For me, I totally agree with the 4 Caucasian owners when they said that barkada is a beautiful word that connotes the deep meaning of friendship. And I totally disagree with the narrow-minded, intolerant and prejudiced Filipinos who reacted negatively on naming Barkada barkada.
In fact, I actually felt flattered that non-Filipinos were able to appreciate the gorgeousness of the word. For me, using the word barkada by a non-Filipino owned and a non-Filipino concept bar is totally fine. In fact, the owners have just lifted up the concept of “barkada” into a higher global plane.
Allowing and using the word barkada as a name of an establishment will not end discrimination, racism and oppression in the world. Nevertheless, barkada may it be a word, a tavern, a feeling or a people should not selfishly be alienated but should instead be celebrated.
Oh, and by the way, here in the Philippines we have very popular restaurant establishments named Vikings Luxury Buffet restaurant and Congo Grille which has nothing to do with the Scandinavians and Congolese people and cultures. Also, the most popular corned beef brand here in my country is called Argentina yet Argentinians are not offended, I guess. Even the most famous and well-revered beer brand that we have here is named San Miguel Beer yet still Saint Michael is not reacting and posting his rants on social media regarding the unpermitted usage of his name for this Filipino alcoholic drink. Hahaha!
To my fellow Filipinos, can we just move on and stop being such sensitive drama queens?! To the owners of Barkada, thanks for the warm appreciation of the word and I hope to have the opportunity to visit your store soon when given the chance to be back in Washington DC. I really hope that during my visit the warmness of hospitality and friendliness of service you provide is Filipino-like.