Rico Blanco says don’t label Filipino artists as ‘local versions of global icons’

July 9, 2019 - 2:24 PM
Rico Blanco with guitar
Rico Blanco performs with a guitar. (Instagram/ricoblanco100)

Musician Rico Blanco urged the public to stop labeling fellow Filipinos as “local versions” of foreign personalities following a report that claimed some fans consider him the “Keanu Reeves of the Philippines.”

In a series of tweets, the former Rivermaya frontman called out a particular headline of a report by an online entertainment website that reads: “Rico Blanco, ayaw ma-label bilang Keanu Reeves ng Pilipinas.”

The report featured Blanco’s statement in an interview during his contract signing with Viva Music Publishing as one of its new talents.

In the article, he was asked about his opinion on some Filipino fans touting him the “John Wick” and the “Keanu Reeves of the Philippines” because of his physical appearance.

“I know people mean it as a compliment and I’m flattered about it, but I have a running silent advocacy na Filipinos should not be Pinoy versions of whoever,” the artist said in the interview.

He elaborated on his answer and stressed that he and the American actor are two different individuals. He continued:

“We should be Anne Curtis is Anne Curtis. Sarah G. is Sarah G. She’s not Adele of the Philippines. She’s not Lady Gaga of the Philippines.”

“So, whenever someone says maybe Keanu Reeves is Rico Blanco, I don’t know… We’re two different people. How many gigs has he played? How many Hollywood blockbusters have I starred in? But I think people mean it lightly lang naman—long hair sila, pareho silang hindi nag-aahit.”

“It’s nakakahiya, kasi guwapo ‘yung Keanu Reeves. Pero ‘yun lang sana, ‘yung Pilipino, itigil nating isipin na versions tayo, like kapag nagsuot ako ng suit, ginaya niya si ano…”

Other Twitter users shared Blanco’s sentiments, claiming that the Philippines does not need a “duplicate of foreign icons.”

Blanco, who is highly regarded in the local music industry, used to be part of the OPM band Rivermaya that ushered the start of the alternative rock movement in the Philippines in the 1990s.

Some of the band’s most popular songs are 214,” “Kisapmata,” “Liwanag sa Dilim,” “Hinahanap-Hanap Kita,” “Elesi, “Ulan” and “Himala,” among others.

Reflection of Filipinos’ colonial mentality 

Being colonized by different countries for centuries has prompted Filipinos to think that foreigners are better than them in almost all aspects.

The mindset leads Filipinos to believe that their ethnic and cultural identity is supposedly inferior to that of the Spanish, Americans and the Japanese—three nations who invaded the country.

It is called colonial mentality which is as a form of internalized oppression.

The mindset makes Filipinos embrace and patronize foreign culture, particularly products and icons or famous personalities.

Colonial mentality has many indicators among Filipinos, according to a paper published by the American Psychological Association. It is when they exhibit the following behaviors or thinking:

  • Having feelings of inferiority for being Filipino
  • Being ashamed and embarrassed for being Filipino
  • Discriminating against less-Westernized Filipinos (e.g. making fun of people from provinces or indigenous groups)
  • Desiring lighter skin or other European physical traits (e.g. bridged nose)
  • Denying, tolerating or minimizing the historical and modern-day oppression of Filipinos.