There are many memories of World War II in the Philippines: the sunken fleets of Coron and Subic Bay, old bunkers and forts, and the destruction of old Manila, a once legendary colonial masterpiece. One of the stranger remnants of the war is “Hey, Joe”, a greeting from the past that has been carried over into the 21st century. The name “Joe” given to the many nameless American soldiers who were stationed here, has become synonymous with male foreigners – any Joe Schmo or Average Joe who is visiting the country. Yes, the memory of G.I. Joe is very much alive in the Philippines.
It’s not unusual to hear the greeting several times a day. Whether from kids or adults, it’s usually accompanied by a wave and a fair amount of snickering. At first, I was like, “No, no, my name is Thomas,” but that only caused hysterical laughter. Now, after several months, I’m used to it. What I haven’t figured out, though, is how Western women are greeted in the Philippines. Do they get a “Hey, Jane”?