By Eunice Estipona
What first comes into your mind when you hear the word Spa? Massage? Beauty? Wellness? How do you stereotype these words? Is it one which relaxes you? One that creates an emotion of serenity? Stereotypes can either be positive or negative but when it comes to people, it ignores the possibility that an individual is unique. Stereotypes view people by painting all members of a group with the same brush. A few days ago, I read and viewed a few videos/ stories all with one similar theme: stereotyping.
Stereotyping story #1- Stereotyping religion
Its extreme to judge a religion by what others have done. Let us instill forgiveness not vengeance inspite of stereotyping. Let us continue to pray for a heart that would find understanding in this troublesome world.
Stereotyping story #2- Stereotyping Names (from an email by my friend, Rommel Martinez)
A Pinoy went to a bar in Hawaii to have some drinks. At the counter, he sat next to the famous Hollywood director, Steven Spielberg who was already ahead by a quart of alcohol. After a couple of beers, the Pinoy sensed that Spielberg was glaring at him. Suddenly, in a flash the Pinoy crashed down from his stool, felled by a vicious hook from the director.
Picking himself up, he yelled, "Wat is dat por?"
Spielberg ranted: "That's for the bombing of Pearl Harbor , you #@@!!##! My dad perished in that bombing!"
"But I am not Jafanese... I am Filipino!" exclaimed the Pinoy.
The inebriated director replied, "Yeah yeah yeah ....Japanese, Burmese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino ...you are all the same."
Regaining his composure, the Pinoy dusted off his white pants, straightened the collar of his loud bird-of-paradise printed shirt, took his seat and ordered a double R&B from the bartender. After a few sips, the Pinoy stood up and delivered his best Jackie Chan karate kick, sending the director flying halfway across the room.
"What was that for?!!" shouted the surprised Spielberg from about fifteen feet away.
"Dat's por da sinking of da TITANIC! I had my grandpader on dat ship!" the Pinoy answered back.
"You ignorant! The TITANIC was sunk by an iceberg!" exclaimed the director.
"Yah yah yah...Iceberg, Spielberg, Carlsberg... you are all the same."
When we see a Filipina working in Hong Kong, do we stereotype them as domestic helpers, nannies and care givers? what about Filipinas working in Japan? Although most of what Filipinos do outside the country are honorable work, not all people have the right mindset. I have personally experienced stereotyping when we touched down Frankfurt, Germany and we were not allowed to get out of the terminal just as quickly as others would, just because we were carrying Filipino passorts and maybe (just maybe) there have been a lot of reports of people coming into transit but exiting Frankfurt illegally, who knows? it just seems stereotyping is everywhere. The question is, how do we want as a country and a race to be remembered? What do we want to be stereotyped as a nation five years down the road?
Stereotyping story #3- Stereotyping beauty and color
The Filipinos have often stereotyped white skincolor as something superior and thus, we have all kinds of whitening and bleaching products and services in the spa. Even the type of hair is stereotyped as beautiful if its straight but its ugly when its curly. Therefore salons kept on urging us to rebond, relax and straighten our hair. Media (especially TV commercials) has often made us think that outside beauty is a thing to focus on but true beauty lies more than skin deep. Although a beautiful face has its merits, we should focus more on our attitude and our hearts. We should not judge the book by its cover.
Stereotyping Story #4- Stereotyping Brands
Believe it or not consumers stereotype brands. What comes into mind when we hear the words, Dolce and Gabbana? Levis? La Coste? Havaianas? Nike? what about when we hear the words Marriott Hotel what comes into our mind? Several years ago, I read two stories about this great hotel chain and the wonderful people working there. First, the Cambridge Marriott Hotel which is legendary for its exemplary service. At a time when the hotel industry was feeling the crunch, it even made more money. It's even rare to find people leaving the hotel without returning back. The secret? The doorman of the country called Phil Adelman. He was 59 years old when he was hired at Marriott, barely a high school graduate and had no hotel experience. He originally applied for a job as a dishwasher but was willing to accept any post that Marriott would give, Phil became a doorman. Phil grabs doors, slots luggages, he does more than make every guest feel welcome and at home. He is as much a performer as a service worker. He has some dramatic ideal of the doorman in mind and he tried to live up to that ideal. He loves people and takes pride in the work itself. The talent and charm of Phil Adelman is the giving of small favors for people without making them appear as much. He never hangs around waiting for a tip. According to Phil, "waiting around for the tip, spoils the ritual of providing service both for him and the guests" plus, he doesn't have to. It's the guests who track him down to give him tip. His joy is in serving people and his passion is in having served well. Even after he was diagnosed with colon cancer- he never missed a day of work, according to his wife Helen. In 2007, he died at the age of 80.
Another employee of Marriott, Albert "Smitty" Smith was awarded the Best Sports Salesperson of the Year, beating all the other salesperson from every Marriott branch all over the world. Even when half the Dodger's team went to the other competing hotel to take advantage of the lower price, Albert took a day off. Not for himself though. He would call the other hotel and ask one of his friends what time the team would arrive then he would go over there in full uniform and wait for the team in the lobby. One time when the Dodger's came to town, Coach Tommy Lasorda led the team into the competing hotel and he was standing there waiting for them. Tommy smiles, shook his hand and said "Smitty, what are you doing here? Are you with the hotel now? This is great! So are we!" But Albert replied that he was still at the Marriott but he was there to wish them luck against the Braves and that he brought their special order from the Marriott after the game because their new hotel's room service closes at 11pm so he would miss his late night snack but most importantly, he also told them that "eventhough you can't afford to stay with Marriott anymore, we still love you".
Marriott. Great brand. Positive stereotyping. But wherever you are, whether working for the Marriott or not, the next time you stereotype your job as a necessary evil or you think like giving up on our work, think of Phil and Albert. Our work, staff, colleagues, company and bosses are a blessing. From them we can learn how to hone and cultivate more of our talents and skills. Our superiors detects the hidden gem in us and gives us the opportunity to contribute to the team. I am really blessed for having to learn and work hand in hand with great people in the spa, massage and wellness industry who taught me more than loving my career but loving people as the bottomline. Whatever the appearance, color, the creed, the religious affiliation, age, gender, etc...and that is positive stereotyping!
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” Colossians 3:23(NIV)