21. 05. 17 / Views
Still here

I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long! I was too busy catching up on sleep and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race :lol:

Where have I been? Mostly work and a little bit of socializing here and there.

But what I’d like to talk with you guys today is this The Atlantic article about a Filipino journalist and his slave. Particularly the backlash it received from foreigners (non-Filipinos) over the author’s use of “Lola,” and that other people have been using it to refer to the slave instead of her real name.

TLDR: The Filipino journalist’s family had a slave named Eudocia Tomas Pulido and called her ‘Lola.’ She was a gift from the mother’s father (the author’s grandfather). His mother denied the gift but she can’t do anything about it because her father was a military man. When the journalist’s family moved to the U.S., they took her with them. His mother was mostly jealous that Lola was closer with her kids and was horrible to her. The author took care of Lola when his mother died and even let her visit the Philippines. But still it was a long time coming, it didn’t justify his tolerance of Lola’s slavery for almost a lifetime.

I’m here to explain that there’s nothing to be mad about except for the concept of slavery, so I’m not going to drop names or twitter account links. Also, the “foreigners” I’m talking about here is those from Twitter and not you guys.

So, it all started when a twitter user said that she’d been seeing a lot of people call Pulido, the slave, as “Lola,” which the author and his family called her. She said it was an “erasure of identity.”

Let me explain to you that lola means grandmother in Filipino. We call everyone who we think could be our grandparent, lola or lolo, even if they’re not. We call that lady who sells fruits, lola. We call our friends’ grandmother, lola. It’s not a derogatory term. It’s a term of respect.

Some people thought it was another term for slave. It’s not.

Is it okay for Filipinos to call Pulido, lola? Yes.

Is it okay for foreigners to call Pulido, lola? For me, yes. Most of us don’t think our language is being appropriated when other nations use it. We even think it’s sweet that you took the time to learn that one word.

It’s okay for everyone to call Pulido, lola. What’s not okay is to forget her name and that she was a slave.

I think the main takeaway here is don’t try to assume things about another culture if you don’t know enough about it. Research is the key.

Admittedly, the article was written overseas and the audience were mostly Americans, so they didn’t know anything about the term. But still, it wouldn’t hurt to Google translate a four-letter word.

Also, I think it was better to call Pulido, Lola throughout the article because it’s more respectful. When we call someone by their last name, it usually means we’re not close with that person. Also, feature articles such as that call for a less formal name reference for the subject.


  • If you’re writing news, you use the person’s last name, e.g. Pulido.
  • If you’re writing a feature article, you use the person’s first name or nickname, e.g. Lola.

As for the article itself, it was beautifully written but of course that doesn’t justify the slavery that took place. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. My family had helpers when I was around 6-years-old and my mother paid them minimum wage.

But now I know that Filipinos could be enslaved by other Filipinos in the original, literal sense of the word. Hell, it might still exist up to this day. It might still be here. What matters is we speak up about it and raise the discussion.

The next post will be on a lighter note, I swear!

P.S I’ve been recently schooled that Filipinx is not really an appropriate term. I’m sorry to my half-Filipino friends out there, I should’ve known better and gave you a heads up but I didn’t really think much of it either. They say it’s because Filipino is already a gender-neutral language, which is true. We only got gendered words such as lola and lolo from Spanish colonization. If you wish, you can read more about it in this twitter thread :)

Featured image photo courtesy of The Atlantic.

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19 Comments | Leave one? ⇡

    On May 22nd, 2017, Elise Liddell said,
  1. I think the main takeaway here is don’t try to assume things about another culture if you don’t know enough about it. Research is the key.

    ^^^ T H I S ^^^

    i know we’re talking about a story and a character from your country but what you said is just applicable to any culture in general. on twitter, i frequently tweet about the idiots in indonesia, the stupid nonsense culture in indonesia, yadda yadda yadda and although nobody had ever attacked me and be like “omg why are you saying all those bad things!?”, i somehow think people are judging me behind my back. it’s annoying. it’s like…i’m sorry but if you don’t live in indonesia then you don’t know how the locals here behave, how they think and process things and how stupid they can be. granted, they’re uneducated but sometimes, it’s like they don’t even have basic manners to respect minorities. i know because i’m a chinese living and residing in a country filled with fanatic muslims. i feel like whenever i tweet about troublesome fanatic indonesian muslims, some people on twitter (my followers) are gonna judge me and accuse me of being this or that. people just don’t do research when it comes to other people / country’s culture and instead makes the original poster be the villain. i wonder if what i’m saying makes sense.

    Admittedly, the article was written overseas and the audience were mostly Americans, so they didn’t know anything about the term.

    yet another sentence i would like to quote. this is so true. okay this may sound like i’m stereotyping things and it may sound like i’m a hypocrite because i always say that i don’t wanna generalize things or anyone but see, sometimes… stereotypes exist because facts exist. and there are already proofs of americans being ignorant and still, they think they’re right. it annoys me when i see or hear americans scream justice, acting like they’re some bunch of social justice warriors trying to be all saint like when they don’t even know other people’s culture. it’s like…please, stop eating your bacon and cheeseburger and actually do your research. i’m not saying all of us should be experts. i’m no expert myself. i don’t know much bout these things before i read your post regarding the issue but at least, i want to understand other people’s cultures. whether i agree with the whole ‘lola’ nickname or not, i will not pretend like i know this shit and agree blindly to those who say calling Pulido with ‘lola’ is wrong. it makes me sick how sometimes foreigners think they’re so damn great, oh so saint-like because they’re trying to defend all these agenda of what’s right. don’t get me wrong, i support rights like equality and stuff too but sometimes they’re doing it wrong and it’s all because they don’t understand other people’s cultures. does this make sense?

    it’s like how foreigners bash on asians (or in this case, indonesia — because i’m representing this rotten country i live in) and say stuff like “ew, you’re 17-18 and you still live with your parents? did you know that we, americans, work our ass off as part timers and we can feed ourselves at your age?” and it makes me go wtf because 1). indonesia is not america, 2). our currency is so much smaller than your dollars, 3). most stuff that we have here are imported so no wonder america / americans think they’re so great. it’s all because of their dollars and currency. i probably sound like a bitch hating on white people but i hope you get my point. foreigners need to use their internet, y’all and feed their brain with research instead of constantly munching on donuts, bacons and cheeseburgers for once.
    Elise Liddell recently posted Thursday Morning, I Woke Up ContemplatingMy Profile


    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Elise Liddell, I get what you’re saying! There are a lot of judgmental people on Twitter and you shouldn’t pay them any attention. I also think that some Filipinos are uneducated and choose not to think so I try not to generalize. Maybe you could put a disclaimer that you don’t think all Indonesians are fanatical Muslims, just some of them? Haha (I’ve read they imprisoned a Christian politician for “blaspheming.”) Or maybe give context/links so they won’t judge you right away or if they still do it’s their fault for not reading the link you included.

    I can relate that you haven’t moved out yet. I would love to move out too but I can’t leave my dog at my parent’s house because god knows what they’ll feed him. Also, it’s really expensive to pay rent, feed a dog, and keep yourself alive in Asia :lol: I agree that US has one of the higher values of currencies and it’s easy to move out when you live in America.
    You got really riled up there haha I think they eat fast food because it’s cheap though. I think if you’re skinny in the US, it means you’re rich because you can afford healthy food and going to the gym (which are hella expensive). If you’re poor, you eat fast food because it’s affordable.


  2. On May 22nd, 2017, Maroon Caludin said,
  3. I remember seeing something about this. Its sad that stuff like this still goes on.


  4. On May 22nd, 2017, Gellie said,
  5. I’ve also already read that article. There are some parts which people who did not grow up in the Philippines would not be able to understand and I was quite shocked at how this article blew up. Raising awareness about how we can sometimes take things for granted because of the already existing culture is one of the points I’ve seen in the article. In the latter part though, it showed how they did their best to make it up to lola and it was quite clear how she is already part of the family.

    It was a very good read. Very well written indeed.

    Gellie recently posted Going Curly and Getting BangsMy Profile


    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Gellie, “Raising awareness about how we can sometimes take things for granted because of the already existing culture is one of the points I’ve seen in the article,” I think so too! Especially that there are so many privileged people in the Philippines.
    I mean, he tried but I think it took way too long? He waited until his mom died to make it up to Lola. I admire him for standing up to his mom but he could’ve done better I guess.


  6. On May 22nd, 2017, Yuki Motokane said,
  7. Research is definitely the key. Reading this, i remember the quote think before you speak and i think its quite appropriate here. I also believe lola is a better term :) i cant believe slavery still happens nowadays, I understand ‘yayas’ and such, but slavery?

    I also haven’t been here much, so i sort of relate with you :crying:

    Great post!


    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Yuki Motokane, definitely! That quote should apply online and offline haha
    Same, I was surprised at first actually. But horrible things do happen in real life :(
    You’re back now and that’s what matters! :heart:


  8. On May 22nd, 2017, Cristina said,
  9. If slavery really exists, that is sad. There should be people to speak up for them and try to do something about it.

    As for lola, well if it mean grandmother and you use it for somebody who you’re close with, I doubt that lola was a slave, probably just a person close to that family who, of course, helped around the house.

    It depends how you treat people. If you treat them as the salves were treated in the past, then there is is a problem. If you treat them as part of your family and you respect their rights and freedom and if you pay for the service somehow, then I guess it is nothing wrong with it.
    Cristina recently posted Productivity Tips (I)My Profile


    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Cristina, sadly it does still exist :(

    She really was a slave. She was given as a “gift” to the author’s mother from the author’s grandfather and she helped around the house without pay :(

    I agree. People should be hired by employers who respect their rights and give them the pay they deserve.


  10. On May 23rd, 2017, Name said,
  11. Hope things are going well on your end!

    It’s definitely important to do some research, especially when writing an article. Better to spend some time to correct yourself before others correct you! I feel like it is respectful to use a native name to refer to someone but we can’t forget who they really are. I called a couple of my Filipino friends Kuya before even though I’m not Filipino.

    I’ve heard of countries having paid maids/housekeepers but didn’t realize that slavery was an actual thing. It is definitely good to be informed so actions could be taken to the next step and ensure that people are not slaves of other people. Even though the son let Pulido go to the Philippines, it’s still not right.


    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Nancy, I didn’t realize it still existed also, it’s so sad :(
    I agree, nothing can make up for the lost time of Lola Pulido. She spent so much time abroad without pay that she didn’t think Philippines was her home anymore.


  12. On May 26th, 2017, Kenny said,
  13. As a person with a journalism background, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Magazines tend to have a lot of leeway with a lot of things, including nicknames, alternate names and the like. If that article was published in the NY times, she would be referred as “Miss Pulido.” That always freaked me out. I don’t want to be referred to as a Mr. in an article.
    Kenny recently posted My idea for a new TV show: A group of genius vampire misfits hunting down vampire serial killers, and it’s a musical comedyMy Profile


    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Kenny, I didn’t know you had a background in journalism, that’s cool to know! And a reader of NYT at that!


  14. On May 27th, 2017, Pauline said,
  15. This was such an interesting read. Thanks for sharing! I don’t relate to my Filipino side as much as I should (especially growing up in the UK and speaking limited Tagalog and knowing only a few Filipinos in the community here) but it was insightful reading this.

    Research is definitely key in everything and anything. I think it’s important to do your research before you go and write a tweet about something that is seen “controversial”. I know that “lola” is used to describe grandmother and is a way of respect, I don’t see anything wrong, personally, of the use of lola. However, I sort of understand the understanding from the other person. At the end of the day, it’s how we interpret things. I find different interpretations of things really interesting!
    Pauline recently posted Spending May in Coffee ShopsMy Profile


    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Pauline, ‘m glad to have helped and I agree 100 percent! “I think it’s important to do your research before you go and write a tweet about something that is seen “controversial” I don’t know why people can’t be bothered to Google when it’s literally a click away :lol:
    Same, I get the idea of the other person. It’s just that I find it bothering that she explained our culture to ourselves when she can’t even understand the language :lol:


  16. On May 27th, 2017, Eena said,
  17. Interesting read, Gillan! I never knew people could possibly mistaken the word lola to mean slave?? I mean… growing up, it was always considered a term of respect.

    Sigh people these days. Making something out of nothing.
    Eena recently posted Foodie Files: Bea Bea’sMy Profile


    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Eena, the Twitter war was crazy over that single word haha Making something out of nothing.EXACTLY :lol:


  18. On May 28th, 2017, Chynna said,
  19. Okay, that article made me cry like a baby. The amount of emotion I grasped from that one articles was so much, and ugh omg.

    See the people on Twitter sure do think they know everything. I beg people do their research before they tweet something. I understand where they’re coming in terms of anger of the blatant disrespect they had for Lola, but at the same time, they don’t understand Filipino culture. This is not to say what they did was right, and we should be taking more steps to eliminate this sort of thing from even happening, but it’s diificult. Even the mum in the articles was confused when her son came at her and called Lola a slave.

    My mum’s family had helpers when they were younger, but they were always happy to help is what she told me and from what I understand they were basically family.

    It can all get quite convoluted if one doesn’t understand a country’s culture and the lines can get blurred, but I think the one thing we can take away from this article is that they should have done justice by Lola.

    Also, I didn’t realise that about Filipinx. I mean, it doesn’t personally bother me! Also, about Filipino being gender-neutral language – that’s pretty cool!
    Chynna recently posted Indefinite HiatusMy Profile


    On May 29th, 2017, Gillan replied:

    @Chynna, right?! The article will really speak to you and mess up your emotions :(
    Exactly. I also hate that the author took way too long to make it up to Lola. He was already married and had kids when he decided to make it up to her. He tried but that doesn’t mean we should tolerate that they enslaved Lola for her whole life.

    Same, I didn’t think much of it but it’s actually true lol