While in the Philippines, I visited friends of mine who work for the Norwegian Missions Alliance (NMA) in Marinduque, a beautiful island in the heart of the archipelago. During my stay, I attended the annual development forum hosted by NMA and the various community-based organisations it partners with on the island.
It wasn’t too surprising that I was mistaken for being Norwegian, seeing as I came with friends who work for NMA and I have the kind of complexion that makes small Filipino children cry. What was more surprising was that I was repeatedly welcomed, by each speaker, in front of an audience of about 150 people, as a special guest from Norway, an important envoy, present on behalf of NMA.
I had no chance to clear up the misunderstanding so I did my best to look Nordic and attentive, even though the proceedings were being conducted in Tagalog. During the lunch break, I bluffed my way through questions about my ‘home’ nation, a country which I’ve never actually visited. Do people eat rice in Norway? Er, yes, I guess so . . .