"Mas maganda sister mo at mga pinsan mo kasi ang puputi."
Celebrity mom Geneva Cruz often heard this comment when she was growing up alongside her mestiza sisters and her cousins Sheryl Cruz, Donna Cruz, and Sunshine Cruz.
But Geneva said these comments didn't really matter to her.
"I was never hurt by those comments," she said in an interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) via Instagram's direct message on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.
"Kasi nga pinalaki ako na nagagandahan ako sa sarili kong kulay at itsura. Basta alam ko, cute din ako kahit di ako maputi."
Geneva continued, "I have experienced being around people who weren’t tactful and have complimented my mestiza cousins and sisters and called them beautiful because of their flawless, white skin.
"I just smiled and felt happy for them, but, at the same time, I had to remind myself that I, too, have a beautiful Pinay skin."
BEATING THE STEREOTYPE
On Friday, June 5, Geneva showed her support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement by sharing her own experience of growing up with "kayumanggi" skin.
As the controversial issue of racial inequality makes headlines around the world, the 44-year-old actress related how she loves her skin color and encouraged fellow morenas to "embrace your beautiful skin dahil walang kasing-ganda ang kulay ninyo."
In her interview with PEP.ph, Geneva noted that her upbringing played a major part in how she was able to develop her confidence.
"I never felt different for being morena, in fact, It made me feel like a superhero, talagang feel na feel ko iyong brown skin ko. It has been a personal choice.
"I’m grateful to my parents for that. I have two sisters who are light-skinned, and to them, we all looked the same."
Geneva observed that parenting has an impact on how a child develops a healthy body image.
She said, "Ang masakit lang diyan kasi iyong mga bata na sinasabihan ng parents nila at an early age na huwag sila mag-swimming masyado baka umitin at pangit iyon.
"Doon nade-develop iyong insecurities ng mga kabataan hanggang sa paglaki."
Geneva added, "Ang laki ng pasalamat ko sa parents ko na hinayaan nila kami to act like kids and to enjoy being kids and didn’t care much about what our skin looked like.
"I-represent mo lang kung ano ang kulay mo pero huwag mong pagtawanan, tuksuhin, o saktan ang mga tao na iba ang kulay kesa sa iyo. Iyon ang hindi tama.
"Karamihan sa Pinoy kulay lupa talaga, and para sa akin maganda ito."
NO SKIN-COLOR bias
Geneva, however, clarified that she's not against people who want to lighten their skin. The actress noted the importance of letting other people decide what they want for their own body.
She said, "Para sa akin ang skin naman eh depende sa tipo ng tao, it’s a preference.
"If ikinaliligaya nila na maputi sila... karapatan nila iyon.
"Whatever makes them happier kasi katawan naman nila iyon.
"Life isn't just about finding yourself, sometimes, it is about creating your self, sabi nga ng friend ko nung high school.
"So if they feel more confident, and brings out their best foot forward, go lang.
"Pero huwag naman pagtawanan o maliitin ang mga kayumanggi tulad namin kasi maganda din naman kami in our own right."