Filipinos, Colonial Mentality, and Mental Health: A psychological approach to exploring the effects of colonialism among Filipinos (


"So yes, colonial mentality—particularly skin-whitening—has been on many Filipinos’ minds lately. But as Philippines Vice President Leny Robredo acknowledged when I asked her about it, it’s a centuries-old issue, and there’s been plenty of work on it, going as far back as Jose Rizal! Indeed, many folks have documented and shared their painful stories, struggles, confusions, and heartaches about colonial mentality throughout the years."

Based on the CMS, there seem to be at least five indicators of CM among Filipinos:

  1. Feelings of inferiority for being Filipino;
  2. Feelings of shame, embarrassment, resentment, or self-hate about being a person of Filipino heritage;
  3. Denigration of the Filipino body (regarding white physical characteristics as more attractive, advantageous, and desirable than typical Filipino physical traits such as brown skin and flat nose);
  4. Discriminating against less-westernized Filipinos (e.g., making fun of people from the provinces—“Promdi”—or indigenous peoples and regarding them as “backward”); and
  5. Tolerating or minimizing historical and contemporary oppression of Filipinos (because such oppression is accepted as the appropriate cost of civilization).


"According to the World Health Organization, the use of skin-whitening has been associated with mental and physical health damages. Overall, using tools such as the CMS and the CMIAT, CM has been shown to relate to poorer mental health. Specifically, it has been shown to be related to lower levels of self-esteem, more depression symptoms, more anxiety symptoms, and lower levels of life satisfaction. These correlates of CM are concerning as research also shows that they typically co-occur with other troubling conditions like alcohol and drug use, and poor school or jobperformance. So yes, having CM is a bad thing."

Read more of E.J.R. David's article at

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Alfredo, Thank you for sharing these troubling stats and details. I notice similar effects of CM in Indonesia (where I live). Including, as you point out, the widespread ignorance of (or indifference to) the highly toxic effect on health of skin-whitening products. Also, there is an unspoken but (apparently) widely-held belief by locals, that they must aspire to the materialistic lifestyle - and, in some cases, the behavior - of Westerners, who settle on this island in droves; that too, has been distressing to observe. Depression, suicide, crime and divorce seem to be on the rise...

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