How Asia’s songbird Regine Velasquez took on ‘mongoloid’ insult

April 18, 2018 - 4:40 PM

It has been years since Regine Velasquez took center stage in Filipino music. The woman dubbed as “Asia’s Songbird” has taken some time off the music circuit to focus on being a mother to her child, six year-old Nate, with husband Ogie Alcasid.

Velasquez recently bared an online confrontation with a social media user who commented “Your son looks like a mongoloid” on an Instagram post of Nate, then just an infant.

Velasquez went on to talk about how she schooled the commenter:

“My son is not. But the correct term is ‘Down syndrome.”

Velasquez then went on to discuss the use of the word “patola.” In local internet speak, patola is not a subtropical vegetable, but a person who picks fights on social media. Velasquez said she does not pick fights but will speak up when she needs to educate.

Patola or not, fans are backing Velasquez on this one.

Fans of Regine spoke about how some people are just insensitive on the matter.

Perhaps missing the point of Velasquez’ tirade, one said that the basher was the real mongoloid.

The problem with ‘mongoloid’

In an article published on The Independent, Gillian Orr details the frustrating predicament of Mongolian-born, UK-based Uuganaa Ramsay, whose second child Billy was born with Down syndrome.

Ramsay related how a doctor tried to comfort her by hinting that her son’s Mongolian features owing to her ethnicity may mask his affliction.

Ramsay, who would go on to make a documentary on the topic, discovered that the problem could be traced back all the way to the 1860s.

John Langdon Down, who first described the genetic disorder, apparently published a paper titled “Observations on an Ethnic Classification of Idiots” where he argued that different types of conditions could be described using ethnic characteristics.

Mongolia called for an end to the use of the term ‘mongoloid.’

He used the term “Mongolian Idiocy” for a group of people that shared the same facial characteristics. These “Mongols” suffered from what would be known as Down syndrome.

Even though Down supposedly abandoned the thesis that intelligence could be measured by facial characteristics, other doctors and geneticists continued to use the term “Mongolian idiot” until it evolved to “Mongoloid.”

Only when Mongolia called for an end to use of the term did the World Health Organization order “Down syndrome” be used instead.

As Ramsay recounts, the word “Mongoloid” continued to be used as an insult in Britain.

Use of “mongoloid” as an insult has also somehow made it to the Filipino vernacular.

In 2012, the late Miriam Defensor-Santiago had to issue an apology after several groups censured her for shouting “Stop molesting me, you Mongoloids!,” at a Senate forum, reportedly a quip against critics.