Who is the morena?

Hello world! Julienne (a.k.a. Yeni) here, the girl behind HKFiles, my first and original WordPress blog which I began initially as a project to document life in Hong Kong – from food reviews and events to hiking/cycling/travel tips. However, HKFiles is more of a reportage on the HK lifestyle, where I’ve been living for 6 years now (I moved in 2011 at the age of 22).

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Lion Rock, Hong Kong (March 2015)

I never really felt like I could be more candid or personal with my posts over there, nor was it really relevant to talk about ideas or experiences outside of Hong Kong – of which I have many. So I decided to put up another blog to kick off my travels through Europe and beyond… who knows where life will take me after? Things are getting more and more exciting so I thought to share my experiences on this blog, and hopefully you’ll get something out of it be it information, inspiration, or pure entertainment. 🙂

Happyfingers Photography

Why Morena Travels? Morena in Spanish/Filipino means a tanned brunette (I’m very loosely defining here) – however, growing up in the Philippines being a morena was nowhere near as fun as it otherwise sounds. Being dark, having brown skin… sucked. You can read all about the growing up pains here (How I learned to love my own skin after moving abroad). After leaving Manila, though, I slowly realised that the colour which I thought made me look so unattractive was actually beautiful. So this is my way of embracing me in my own skin.

Learning how to ride a motorcycle, Camiguin Island, Mindanao (January 2015)

Lately, I’ve also been given the honour to become editor at We Are Sole Sisters, an award-winning travel blog and online platform for women empowering women to travel.

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I’m always happy to hear from you, and respond as much as I can, so feel free to leave a comment or question below 🙂


23 responses to “Who is the morena?”

  1. How have we not met up yet? Fellow sole sister and HK resident. Lets get coffee!


    1. I heard you were traveling somewhere? Haha! Back next week, my digits are 94809452 🙂


  2. I can’t remember how I came across this blog but I’m happy I bumped into this. I really enjoy reading your writings, I’m from mla and living now in Shenzhen and Hk too that’s why I can somewhat relate. I’m putting this site in my ‘first-thing-to-visit-when-I-get-online” box so yea, bookmarked! 🙂 keep it up Morenayani!


    1. Wow thanks!! I haven’t done much with this site yet but thanks anyway for bookmarking, and good luck with your new life in HK/SZ! 🙂


  3. dear Yeni,
    i wish i can meet you in Hongkong next week if you are free


  4. It is kinda ironic how pale light skin is considered attractive in Asia but not really in the US. Pale light skin means the person is not active or gets out much. Being tan in US is considered attractive.


  5. Nice article I read here. Domestic helper, prostitute, or nurse? Living with the Filipina stereotype in Hong Kong


    It’s nice to see someone finding their niche and happiness.


  6. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I can’t remember how (maybe it was when I was googling things about HK), but your posts about the Filipina stereotype, and coming to terms with your brown skin, really resonated with me! I’m an American born to Indonesian parents and I’ve always been comfortable with my skin color UNTIL I visited Indonesia and other Asian countries. In the US, my skin color was celebrated. But in Asia, it was the last thing people wanted for themselves (though, thankfully I have seen positive changes lately). The beauty ideal in Indonesia is identical to the Philippines: white skin/european (or East Asian) features, so I was never really considered special or attractive there. However, after traveling through Europe I remembered reveling in all of the positive attention I got from my perpetual sun-kissed look.

    For me, what really grinds my gears is the Asian population’s lack of respect towards women (and men too) of darker complexions. My boyfriend is a white American and we went on vacation to Bali back in 2011. One of the resort workers (an Indonesian woman) snidely made a comment to one of her coworkers along the lines of: “look at this girl who thinks she’s better than us because her boyfriend is white. I bet she’s milking all of the money out of this man”. She must have thought I was Thai or Filipina, but I responded in perfect Bahasa saying “you don’t know us, and you should keep your mouth shut before I report you to the manager”. I wish I could’ve been more eloquent, but I realized that it wouldn’t matter. And for the record, I made more money than him! I could make a speech dissecting that woman’s flawed judgement, but for every one person who thinks this way there are many more!

    I am now living in Shanghai, and although I don’t hear patronizing comments about my skin color (per se) from Chinese people, I would still hear condescending remarks about Southeast Asia being poor, chaotic, and dirty. They’re seen as great travel destinations but not serious competitors in the Asian economic strata. Therefore, the lack of respect is also tied to the perceived country’s economic standing in the world. Its so pathetic that people would judge others based on their skin color. And don’t even get me started on the racist exoticism!

    Anyways, your blog is incredible and I really love your writing style. You’re gifted in prose, I must say.

    I’ve never traveled solo but you are inspiring me to do it (despite the negative encounters you’ve experienced).

    Keep doing you! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey! Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a long and thoughtful reaction. I’m happy to be able to find kindred souls out there who understand and fight the same battles, we need to keep going and support each other. I’m frustrated that the majority reinforce those stereotypes but hope that one day it doesn’t have to be like that. I wish you all the best in Shanghai!


  7. How many countries have you been to? Can you list all of them?


    1. Hi! I haven’t really counted.. any particular reason why you ask? 🙂


  8. What do you think about south asian people? South asian countries: Afghanistan,India,Nepal,Bhutan,Maldives,Srilanka,Bangladesh. And how much racist your counrty people are (curiosity) ? Your blog is awesome and keep shining.


  9. Tai Long Wan waverider Avatar
    Tai Long Wan waverider

    Any surf spots you came across in Ishigaki that you recommend?


    1. We cycled to Maesato beach but it was flat! Really depends on the season but I think the lighthouse in the northwest was supposedly better at that time


  10. Your article here has a grammatical error, “Japanese man who was trying to chat to me” should be “chat WITH me”. https://coconuts.co/hongkong/features/what-it-really-feels-live-filipina-stereotype/

    I think it’s just because you’re morena that’s why HKers associate you with domestic helpers. All too common there, unfortunately. HK PR here by virtue of lineage (I’m usually thought of as local even though I grew up in PH) so quite aware. Are you trying to get a PR status there?


    1. Chat to me should be fine as well, the coconuts editor seemed to think so!


      1. Are you PR? Bookmarked your hike suggestions!


      2. Yup, I am, why?


      3. Hi Yeni.
        Are you, by any chance, the Yeni who dropped her phone in a pool during a party and jumped in to get it?


      4. Sounds random, don’t remember that ever happening to me


  11. The fact that we could only feel more comfortable with our own color after traveling abroad was ridiculous. Imagine not feeling the same way as that in your own country and at a young age. As someone who has body dysmorphia and battling against it throughout these few months, having the darkest shade of brown and leaving all the insecurities uncured, I think society’s perspective of what women should be, could be much more accountable for women experiencing BDD and being a morena at the same time. Having Body Dysmorphia is the worst disorder, you know that you have it and you have to scoop it away from your soul but you can’t get away from it because there are lots of personal factors triggering the condition. Society wanted us to believe that colorism is a part of a human’s naturalistic body, and hated us at the same time for believing it and thought of us as shallow and superficial.


    1. Yep. There has to be a point though where we stop allowing ourselves to become a victim and take charge of how we see ourselves and therefore how others see us. I hope you find a way to self-love. Try watching/reading How to Change Your Mind 😆


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