Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph). This piece was published in the May 27, 2009 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

A chip on the shoulder is not a sign of patriotism. It’s the mark of an inferiority complex.  – Philip Gilmore

I don’t get the patriotic furor over Alec Baldwin’s remark. “I’d love to have more kids. I’m thinking about getting a Filipina mail-order bride at this point, or a Russian. I don’t care, I’m 51.”  I suspect “mail-order bride” had something to do with it but I can’t for the life of me figure out why.

A mail-order bride is a woman who chooses a different route to marriage. She is not a slut. She is not morally inferior to a woman who opts to be courted in the traditional manner.

Baldwin joked about how difficult it is for older men to find young women who will bear children for them. It’s supposed to be funny because Baldwin, at 51, does not look like he’s about to fall off women’s to-do lists anytime soon. It’s a self-effacing joke. So lighten up.

Consider the following:

Suppose Baldwin dropped the phrase “mail-order bride” and instead said, “I’d love to have more kids. I’m thinking about getting a Filipina at this point, or a Russian. I don’t care, I’m 51.”

Would you take that as a compliment to Filipinas or would you want to beat Baldwin black- and-blue for placing Filipinas on par with Russian women?

What if  Baldwin dropped the reference to Filipinas and Russian women and said, “I’d love to have more kids. I’m thinking about getting a mail-order bride at this point. I don’t care, I’m 51.” Does that mean he considers women as mere breeders for men? Should feminists take offense?

What if Baldwin had said, “I’d love to have more kids. I’m thinking about getting a Filipina from a Christian dating service at this point. I don’t care, I’m 51.”  Should Filipino patriots, feminists, Christians and patriotic Filipino feminist Christians feel insulted?

Must every self-effacing joke have to be identified and explained, softened by air quotation marks and a wink, for the benefit of the clueless?

Lately, some Filipinos have gone into convulsions over observations they thought were unwarranted slights on the Filipino.

Knee-jerk patriots threw a fit when the BBC comedy show, Harry and Paul, did a skit featuring a sexy Filipina maid. They must not have known that sexy-maid jokes have been around since women started working as servants.

The Harry and Paul sexy-maid skit is essentially sexist/elitist, not racist/nationalist.  If at all, it is bra-burners and blue-collar workers, not flag-wavers, who should be offended by that skit.

Terri Hatcher, the actress playing Susan in Desperate Housewives, a fictional TV series, was slammed for putting down Filipino doctors in an episode of the show.

Considering what we have learned about the proclivity of some Filipino doctors, would outraged patriots have preferred an additional scene in the show where Susan explains the reason she asked if she was going to be examined by a Filipino doctor?

Susan: “If the doctor is from the Philippines, I’m going for a Brazilian wax first. I want to look good for his hidden camera.”

Chip-on-the-shoulder patriots excoriated Chip Tsao, a satirist writing for a Hongkong magazine, for calling the Philippines a nation of servants.

What’s a humor writer supposed to do—write “joke only” in parenthesis? Are there not hundreds of thousands of Filipinos working as servants in Hongkong? Does not the government of the Philippines conduct a training program called Super Maids?

Truth can hurt. But it can also make us laugh.

“The emperor is naked,” said the boy in Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale. The crowd realized he had spoken the truth. And they laughed at the Emperor and themselves for having believed otherwise.