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Apr 28

Implements of culture

I was raised to eat in the Western manner, and I continue to do so in my own home, even when I eat Filipino food, except when certain dishes are on the table. Kare-kare, menudo, adobo, for example, can be eaten using a knife and fork, but it seems an additional effort that detracts from efficient and enjoyable eating, since using a spoon and fork to eat these dishes is so much more sensible. Crispy pata, on the other hand, involves a multicultural use of implements: a knife is more efficient for slicing my favorite part (the skin) but a spoon and fork are essential for the accompanying rice.

Outside the home, I adapt. If I am eating Western food, I use Western implements, because it is equally inefficient to use a spoon and fork to eat most Western dishes: the texture, consistency, and so forth of the dishes, even when accompanied by rice, makes the use of a knife and fork more sensible. When eating Chinese, Japanese, or Korean food, I’ve learned to manage to use chopsticks, and three different kinds at that: the Chinese prefer ivory (or nowadays, plastic) chopsticks that are the most difficult to use; the Japanese prefer wooden chopsticks; the Koreans, stainless steel ones and a spoon. Regardless of the cuisine, if one is with people who prefer a particular set of implements (or none at all) over another, one uses what is given you, and does not make a fuss, particularly in someone else’s home, in which one is a guest.

It is perhaps old-fashioned of me to believe that one eats as one’s companions eat, as the food one is eating should be eaten by those who habitually eat that food, and according to the norms of the place in which one is eating. I was raised believing this is a sign of culture, and culture is about respecting the norms of those one has decided to associate with, whether as a tourist, a visitor to their home, or a patron of their restaurant, which is also a vehicle and repository for the civilization that created a particular kind of cuisine. This always requires the effort of learning, and not a little comedy (generation after generation of Filipinos have funny stories about the challenges and mysteries of finger-bowls during formal dinner overseas, mostly involving a curious compulsion to pick them up and drink their contents).

An anonymous commenter has left a couple of links to news articles that are something of a cause caelaebre among Filipinos all over the world. The case involves a Filipino child in Canada. The case, to my mind, can be broken up into several parts, which leaves no one blameless but also goes to show how expectations have (and should) change concerning how cultures meet and overlap.

The child, apparently, insists on eating with a spoon and fork in school, in which the dominant culture is a Western one. The child was reprimanded, and punished by being isolated from other students during mealtimes. The child’s parents were concerned, and according to the press accounts, were told by a school official that the child ate “like a pig.” That’s what the parents say; the school itself has countered by claiming the child was a messy eater and it was the child’s hard-headedness, and tendency to make a mess (and allegedly, make a fuss) that merited punishment. Filipinos all over the world have taken up the incident as a case of bigotry, cultural imperialism, and even persecution, and ruffled feelings of national pride are being made as a result.

It could have all been avoided, of course, if both sides did the following:

1. The child ate according to his culture at home, and was taught to respect the culture of his new country by eating as the others do, in school;
2. The school, operating in a country that proclaims its multicultural nature as a virtue, had talked to the parents first, instead of punishing the child and then talking to the parents, only to castigate them for something that should not be considered a fault: teaching their child their culture;
3. Had the school official been a person of genuine culture and learning, he would never have said what he did to the parents concerning their child; the school should never have excused, much less defended what the official said;
4. The claim the child was a messy eater, and fussy to one extent or another, is a measurable and provable claim, and attending to that problem is not a matter of culture, but of discipline, in which both school and parents could surely have found common ground.

So now there’s a mess, and I don’t have sympathy for the school, and am happy for the child that his parents raised hell. Whether as a result the child will go through life thinking he can make a mess and eating any way he pleases, is another thing but irrelevant to the larger public. No parent should have to hear their child insulted by anyone, particularly school officials; no Filipino family should have to endure their culture being slighted, particularly since we tend to be a very reasonable, and accommodating people, if only we are engaged in dialogue first.

Personally, I don’t see how eating much of Western food with a spoon and fork makes for either enjoyable or efficient eating. But that’s me. Which is why I also personally find the furious counter-argument made by many Filipinos -“but the Chinese eat with chopsticks!”- slightly devoid of sense. Chinese food is eminently designed to be eaten with chopsticks, but try eating Western food with chopsticks and it would be an exercise in culinary futility. The Chinese, except perhaps at a state banquet, are pragmatic enough to permit (what they might view as barbaric Westerners and non-Chinese) foreigners to eat with Western implements at Chinese restaurants; Western restaurants as a rule don’t even have chopsticks to provide Chinese, Japanese, or Korean clients who, as a matter of culture, avidly learn how to enjoy foreign food on its own terms. We should be as pragmatic, I think, and if you want to indulge in cultural chauvinism as so many cultures do, then you are welcome to do so in your own home, where your culture or variation thereof is king.

48 comments

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  1. manuelbuencamino

    There is a reason why they are called utensils. They are tools designed to make eating easier.

  2. Jon Mariano

    Canada is a nice country, but as in any country, there are a*holes! It’s not a dig against them though because we have more them in the Philippines!

    I once overheard a couple of Americans in the subway (MTR here in Hong Kong), what one said was “These (Chinese/Asians) do things differently and sometimes better than how we would do them. I used to believe that we were the best in everything!). Apparently he was not referring to the use of chopsticks!

    I agree with you on how it could have been better handled.

  3. cocoy

    yep saw that article yesterday, a friend of mine sent me a link.

    its not a perfect world… anywhere and we all have our own… cultural preferences (take jon’s comment up there) 😉

    i agree with mlq3, the situation could have been handled much better.

  4. Dominique

    I’d agree with point #1, if we were talking about adults; but he’s a seven-year old. But…the school, the principal, and the teacher could have handled things with more decency and…culture.

    On the lighter side, here’s another gastronomical fiasco-> http://max.limpag.com/2006/04/28/suman-dennis-rodman/

  5. Phil Cruz

    Manolo,sorry to be out of topic but…The ever confident General Querol got stumped!

    Yes, the fluent English-speaking British-accented PNP Metro Chief Querol got stumped when Ricky Carandang together with Pinky Webb popped him a very simple question in an interview on ANC today.

    The interview was focused on clarifying how the police would handle the May 1st Labor Day rallies in light of the Supreme Court ruling on CPR and Batas Pambansa 880. (It was a one-for-you, one-for-Gloria ruling, as far as I’m concerned).

    Anyway, the self-confident Querol rambled on to forewarn the rallyists that the police would still arrest any group without a rally permit because the Supreme Court upheld the BP 880 no permit-no rally policy.

    And so Ricky asked Querol if he would still arrest any group just having coffee at Starbucks if they wore black T-shirts that had “Patalsikin si Gloria” on it.

    And Querol said he would arrest them because that would be a protest. But he quickly added, “We would be on the edge there … we would be on the edge…”. (Did he mean that depends? That’s a gray area?)

    Then Ricky pops a very logical follow-up question “What if the T-shirts read WE LOVE GLORIA. Would you arrest them?”

    To which the voluble Querol lost his facility for the King’s language. Groping for words, he delivered this brilliant reply “uh..uh..uh…well..ah..ah …” or sputterings to that effect. I felt sorry for the man.

    Here again is another decent fellow with a brilliant mind and career turned into a pitiful Palace puppet. The list gets longer and longer.

    What is tragic about the interview is that it showed that even the Metro PNP Chief seems not sure of how he will handle the rallyists, protesters or small crowds. What more his people on the ground? Expect May 1st to result in more confusion and more cases to be filed in our courts.

    The many questions of Ricky and Pinky were questions designed to primarily clarify things as a guide to rallyists and policemen to avoid confusion, chaos and violence. Gen. Querol’s replies did little to clarify things.

  6. Carl

    No utensils for them, my forefathers ate with their hands. I sometimes do, especially on picnics. However, I know better than to do that on formal ocassions. I guess there’s a time and place for everything. There’s an old Spanish saying: “Lo cortes no quita lo valiente”. Loosely translated, it means courtesy or good manners doesn’t make one less brave (or a coward).

    mlq3 has a point, in that situation there’s enough blame to go around. The school and it’s official seemed too heavy-handed and insensitive. And the child and his parents seemed too inflexible, yet onionskinned. Chinese may eat with chopsticks, but normally not when eating Western food.

  7. jane

    galing po ng blog nyo, i-link kita ha

  8. a de brux

    Phil, quite an account of Querol’s TV performance you got there. Thanks.

    Meanwhile, just received an e-mail from a member of an e-mail cybergroup who first revealed the existence of Lulli Macapagal’s internet brigade lurking in various e-mail cybergroups with the following message:

    “I just learned that the Arroyos are using also the alias GETITRIGHT3, etc. The daughter logs into the egroups also as NEXMILLIE, etc.”

  9. Betol

    This article about a spoon eating Filipino child is rather odd. That a school principal notices a kid eating with a spoon and fork, as opposed to a knife and fork, strikes me as somewhat bizarre, maybe even malicious, like a perverted lunchroom gestapo lurking in the backgrounds, spying on nonconforming, spoon eating kids.

    Maybe it’s just me but I think this whole thing is being taken way too seriously.

  10. Tom

    Betol wrote on April 29th, 2006 at 12:40 am: “This article about a spoon eating Filipino child is rather odd.”

    Odd indeed. A spoon eating Filipino child! I hope he eats one of those little wooden spoons like they use to scoop ice cream from a little plastic cup. At least the poor child will add some fiber to his diet.

    I think I understand what Betol meant to write. Just can’t resist na humirit. Pasensya na po.

  11. d0d0ng

    It is smack to the face of french canadians that CSMB with institutional vision of respect and tolerance is not carried out by its own school principal. They should fire principal Norman Bergeron. To say that using spoon and fork is the way of the pigs is entirely without basis, uneducated and does not belong to a school principal.

    The family is correct to pull out the child and transfer him to other school.

    The family should file a lawsuit against CSMB. It must be remembered that in March 2006, the Supreme Court overturned the Quebec Court of Appeals in upholding CSMB decision to ban Sikh student from wearing his traditional kirpan.

  12. baycas

    two things: table manners need to be taught by parents and, i read, etiquette and formalities are more important in Canada than in the US (even dubya’s table manners were criticized when he drank straight from the bottle on one occasion in Quebec).

    bottomline: i guess one must learn to adapt to the culture of the adopted country, especially when raising a child.

    but i agree, all the fuss could have been avoided.

  13. Amadeo

    Let me look at this piece from another angle, coming from a compatriot who has not only lived here in the US for over a quarter of century interacting with the “natives”, but because I do have in-laws who are natives here.

    I read about this account from a Canadian source almost a week ago.

    And from my personal opinion, I suspect the spark that ignited this issue was not so much that utensils (spoon and fork) were used for eating, but the way food was being delivered to the mouth and how it was being chewed or masticated.

    If you notice the Canadian principal commented, “like a pig”. Quite surprising, knowing the kid ate with his spoon and fork!

    However, it is not difficult to see how differently the natives here, and including Canada, chew their food, with mouths closed and no sound made while chewing.

    And again, it is not difficult to see how easily turned off they are watching how many Asians, including us, chew their food, usually with mouths opened and chewing sounds being audible.

    Thus, I suspect that’s how the prim and proper and most likely untravelled principal saw the situation, which evoked that remark about swine-like behavior.

    I bet you a more thorough interview of the principal will reveal this little known wrinkle between cultures.

    I assure you I have learned here to chew food the Western way, especially in front of my fair-skinned in-laws. HeHeHe.

  14. Karl

    we have lots of cases of discrimination in canada…
    it is expected as discrimaination can be felt just about anywhere without even going far
    .
    I know of a nanny who got deported back here because of her different practice. She bathed two toddlers and she was thorough in bathing them that she even cleaned their genitals…and what do you know the mom saw it and after a few months the nanny was deported.

  15. baycas

    amadeo,

    for sure, it’s chew they will talk about by your lack of table manners when you make a sound while eating.

    —–

    anyway, back to the news item…

    i’ve always believed table manners start at home…and also, it’s best that you do as the romans do when you’re in another place. own culture has to be preserved but it’s a different matter when it comes to respecting the culture of the adoptive country.

    luc is not anymore being raised in Philippines. in fact, it is a lunch program wherein they are being taught table manners at école lalande.

    —–

    Gallardo, who is originally from Misamis Oriental, moved to Montreal from the Philippines in 1999. She was a former contract worker and now an immigrant.

    “I find it very prejudiced and it’s racist. He’s supposed to be acting like a professional. This is supposed to be a free country with free expressions of culture and religion. This is how we eat; we eat with a fork and spoon,” she said.

    Luc’s father, Aldrin Cagadoc, was also surprised by the principal’s comment. “I can’t believe that even the principal would say that,” he said. “A person of his caliber, I wouldn’t expect him to say that.”

    Gallardo, who operates a daycare service out of her Roxboro home and is close to completing her studies in early childhood education, wrote a letter last week and lodged a formal complaint with the school authorities.

    She disagreed with the lunch monitor’s approach to teaching children how to eat and said it is emotionally upsetting to Luc.

    http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2006/apr/26/yehey/top_stories/20060426top9.html

    —–

    of course, the lunch monitor was a bit harsh (as we had cried foul when a teacher in one of our provinces asked her two pupils to eat pencil shavings). proper communication was just the thing to do, i think, especially when ms. gallardo is also into early childhood education.

    …it dawned on me, wasn’t table manners included in ms. gallardo’s studies?

  16. vic

    I didn’t hear the story about the Canadian Child, but in all probability it happened. But once this thing had happened must have been resolved satisfactorily. Yes, Canada promotes multiculturalism and we sometimes eat with our bare hands and instead of negative comments our fellow white canadian would wash their hands and do the same. Yes, it is true candadian cultures doesn’t use spoon, except for soup and puddings, it is because they usually have meat and potatoes and bread as theri main staples. Try using spoon on them. It really depends on what stuff you eat. I always use fork and spoon as practical matter. thank you

  17. sparks

    I thought this post was going to say the kid was eating with his hands. Then it says fork and spoon. I thought, what’s wrong with that? It didn’t register until much later. When I was in Anglophone Canada some years back I ate with fork and spoon all the time and didn’t get censured.

    Try eating RICE with a knife and fork. Sheesh.

  18. karl

    someone told me the issue was how the child ate and not about the utensils, maybe the kid made a mess and ate in a sloppy manner, but I don’t know, any issue has more than two sides to it.

  19. vic

    It is accepted now. Most Canadian understand that some food just can’t be shoved with fork and knife. If you go to most restaurant now, utensils come in set of fork,knife and spoon for the asking. And lots of traditional Candians now have even get to the liking of Pilipino cuisine and some even would give the “balot” a try. Litlle by little we learn and once we do we cherish our multiculturism.

  20. TOTOY

    I SUPPOSE IT’S MORE INTERESTING TO TALK ABOUT A KID OF PHILIPPINE ANCESTRY, WHO’S NOT REALLY A FILIPINO, WHO HAD A MINOR INCIDENT WITH HIS EATING HABITS THAN THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TRUE FILIPINO KIDS WHO EAT OUF THEIR HANDS FROM GARBAGE.

  21. Curious

    Where does it say that in Canada one must eat with a knife and fork? Does the Canadian government provide FAQs or Need to know, must know, or any such material relating to proper eating utensils of Canadians, to new immigrants?

  22. micketymoc

    Comment #20: funniest (and most ham-handed) attempt at a derail I’ve read yet.

  23. vic

    Comment # 20 surely gets my attention and yes, we love to discuss trivial matter and delegate the more pressing ones in the background. You are right, the incident happened in Roxboro (in Quebec) a very minor incident that would not warrant a comment except that it happened in the “French” part of the country and some just wanting some attention. Whereas I was in the country recently, and I had seen first hand the hundreds of thousands of children who would love to eat with their bare hands, if only there are enough to eat. And here we are worried abouth the forks and spoons and knifes and add the chop sticks. thanks for the comment..

  24. emilie

    fork and spoon for lack of more interesting topic to talk about. its fatigue # 20. we need a break sometimes not just the same old subject which has become a BORE. Of course we all care but when some people think theirs is the only opinion that counts then you turn off people who will push the envelope for you

  25. Robby Villabona

    Funny… I have a few American friends who, in their long stay here, have learned to cut their steaks or chicken with the side of a spoon.

  26. Major Tom

    I thought Canada is most tolerant of other cultures, maybe this is just a rare instance, and if it is such, I hope this will bring forth more awareness for the need for more tolerance and cultural acceptance, not only in that country, but the rest of the so-called “western world”.

  27. vic

    Yes Major Tom, Canada is the most tolerant of all western world and not only that, it also accept the cultures of all its nationalities, since it is a country made up of all nationalities. It is reflected in our laws and our policies, BUT individually each has his/her own prejudice and biases, that we are slowly and surely trying to minimize and eventually eliminate too. Thank you and we wish that acceptance of each others cultures and tolerance not only in the western world but all over.

  28. TOTOY

    THIS NEWS IS ATTRACTING ATTENTION BECAUSE IT WAS A WHITE MAN WHO WAS DISCRIMINATING AGAINST A YOUNG INDIO.

    PROTESTERS RALLY AGAINST NIKE FOR USING CHILD LABOR BECAUSE IT IS A WHITE CORPORATION EXPLOITING FILIPINO CHILDREN. BUT FILIPINOS WOULDN’T PROTEST AGAINST CHINESE JUNK SHOP OWNERS WHO PAY TWO PESOS PER SACK OF PLASTIC BOTTLES TO YOUNG FILIPINO GARBAGE PICKERS BECAUSE CHINOYS ARE NOT WHITE.

    THE REASON FOR THIS IS THAT FILIPINOS HAVEN’T GOTTEN OVER THEIR HATRED FOR WHITE PEOPLE WITH SPANISH AND AMERICAN COLONIALISM.

  29. Ces

    Thank you, mlq3, for that balanced view. Sobriety sorely needed at this time. My initial reaction was to fume over this article.

    I agree with your assessment. There was lack of communication between the school, parents, and student as to expected behavior from the very start. The ‘punishment’ was 10 months running, why hasn’t the school lunch monitor sent a letter home to the parents for the child’s supposed infraction of, er, “rules” about using “proper” utensils?

    However, and there is always an however, the article [if it is accurate] stated that the child was punished for “using a fork to push food into a spoon”, the principal states “I have never seen anyone eat with a spoon and fork at the same time”…”we have to eat intelligently”. HUH? Then the principal states that he ate like a pig. We DON’T know if he meant pig-like for using that particularly Filipino technique.

    And there lies the crux of the outrage.

    Why were the parents not informed early on? Why was there no training or guidance? Why the racist remarks form the principal? Why the silence on the principal’s and boards’ side when asked for comment?

    So many questions.

  30. micketymoc

    Totoy, I understand your passion, but please – on the Internet, all-caps is shouting. And all-caps in boldface is yelling at the top of your voice. Be a good boy and use lowercase like everyone else, please?

  31. totoy

    “on the Internet, all-caps is shouting.”

    THAT’S A STUPID RULE. A CAPS LOCK IS JUST A CAPS LOCK. THIS IS SHOUTING: AGGHHHHHHHKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. carlosceldran

    Shouting or not shouting.

    You are being idiotic and are going way off-topic.

    I agree with Micketymoc.

    Chill out dude.

  33. Ram

    This message is for “Totoy”:

    Article #20: “I SUPPOSE IT’S MORE INTERESTING TO TALK ABOUT A KID OF PHILIPPINE ANCESTRY, WHO’S NOT REALLY A FILIPINO, WHO HAD A MINOR INCIDENT WITH HIS EATING HABITS THAN THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TRUE FILIPINO KIDS WHO EAT OUF THEIR HANDS FROM GARBAGE.”

    Who are you to define who is and who isn’t Filipino? A kid, born in the Philippines and raised in Canada, is not a Filipino? What then, I ask, is a “true Filipino”?

    You have just as much ignorance as that school principal. What’s more despicable is that you pretend to hide it with this pretense that you’re concerned about the welfare of poor Filipino children.

    You are racist. Racist to your own kind. I was born in Baguio and moved to Canada. But I guess I shouldn’t be concerned about all this matter, because according to you, my ignorant, racist friend, I’m not a true Filipino.

    I care just as much about the well-being of poor Filipino children as this matter with Filipino eating habits. For you to brush this incident off is an indication that this type of discrimination should be tolerated. Which it shouldn’t.

    A racist is bad enough. What’s worse is a person that is racist to his own kind, hiding his discriminatory ideas by bringing up other issues.

    Racist. I can’t stand people like you. You have the exact kind of attitude as the ignorant people that make life miserable for young Filipinos here in Canada. Young Filipinos who are victims only because of their skin color. And what hurts the most is that you yourself are Filipino.

  34. Ram

    And as for Comment #28:

    THIS NEWS IS ATTRACTING ATTENTION BECAUSE IT WAS A WHITE MAN WHO WAS DISCRIMINATING AGAINST A YOUNG INDIO.

    No. I want to make this clear, especially for this “Totoy.”

    This news is attracting attention because it is an unspeakable act of discrimination that violates the Canadian Charter of Human Rights, not because the principal is white, or because we have resentment over being colonized by white men, as you proclaim.

    You, “Totoy”, are continually giving examples of your ignorance.

    If you had done your research, you’ll realize that in Canadian history, French-Canadians are just as much discriminated against by English-Canadians as any other ethnic group.

    This isn’t simply a story of white people against some Filipinos, as you have summed it up to be. This is a fight for our dignity, our respect, and our pride. Tolerating incidents like this will set precedents for far worse acts in the future.

    Sure, there are worse things going on in the world. But I don’t see you concerned over the well being of the millions of African girls who are continually raped (click here), or the thousands of brides in India who are burned and tortured (click here).

    Is it because if your ignorance? Maybe.

    But for most people, they choose their own battles to wage. I fight for the rights of Filipino-Canadians. I fight for the Filipino identity.

    Why am I not fighting for the child labor in the Philippines? Or the exploitation of overseas Philippine workers? Or for the poor Filipinos who live in squatter villages?

    It’s because a person has the right to choose their crusade. All problems in the world need attention. And these problems all need to have someone stand up and become its champions.

  35. TOTOY

    “It’s because a person has the right to choose their crusade. All problems in the world need attention.

    RAM, YOU SHOULD FIGHT FOR YOUR PENIS’S RIGHT TO HAVE A PUSSY. A GUY WHO TAKES SO MUCH OF HIS TIME TO RESPOND TO AN INTERNET COMEDIAN SUCH AS ME DOESN’T HAVE A SOCIAL LIFE. GET OFF THAT CHAIR AND FIND A GIRLFRIEND. GO CLUBBING. IF YOU CAN’T ATTRACT WOMEN THE NORMAL WAY JUST GET A PROSTITUTE. FIGHT FOR YOUR PENIS’S RIGHT TO FUCK!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  36. micketymoc

    Yeesh. Troll.

  37. Ram

    For an “internet comedian”, you’re pathetic.

    How ’bout racist ignorant pig?

    All you can do is “crack a joke” at my expense? Yeah, keep on slamming me. You’re credibility’s down the drain anyway, racist.

    Anyone else laughing at this comedian’s jokes?

    Bigot.

  38. Ram

    And I don’t “take too much time” to respond to you. In fact I can do it in one sitting, considering you’re a pretty easy target who doesn’t have a clue.

  39. micketymoc

    Ram, tama na. Don’t feed the troll.

    And I thought comedians were supposed to be funny?

  40. Pig

    Subject: We Are Canadians!

    “Madame, you are in Canada now!”

    As quoted from Ecole Lalande Director Mr. Bergeron, in defense of his approval for disciplining a 7 year old boy on the manner of how he eats his food with a spoon and fork.

    You are in Canada now… does that mean people have to drop their religion, culture, and heritage and do things the Canadian way?

    You are in Canada now… does that mean a school principal can trample upon the rights of a 7 year old to eat the way he like?

    You are in Canada now… does that mean you can not use chopsticks, or eat with your hands, or make a mess when you are eating, especially if you’re in this school?

    I am sorry to say to you Mr. Bergeron, but YOU ARE IN CANADA NOW! People here are free to express their beliefs, culture, heritage and religion. If you infringe upon the right of a person to live then you are discriminating!

    Who are you going to believe?

    Are you going to believe the defense of this ignorant director and his punitive lunch monitor?

    Or are you going to believe a brave 7 year old, who have the courage to tell the truth? And who else is going to defend the basic human rights of a child if not his own mother?

  41. Estel Duron

    Subject: Eating Habits

    Two points:

    1) The two Canadian school officials shouldn’t have judged a kid by the way he eats.

    I know, to Western types who are used to eating with one implement (the fork) or during other occasions with two (fork and knife), eating with a spoon (used for soups and pudding) paired with a fork may seem uncouth, if not downright yucky. I can imagine those two school officials saying in their minds, “He’s SHOVELING solid food with a SPOON! Disgusting!” But these two Canadians would be surprised to know that eating with a spoon and fork is actually considered polite in the Philippines. On the other hand–

    2) The Filipino kid should have been taught to eat the “Canadian Way” when around Canadians.

    I remember a Swedish classmate of mine who insisted in eating baked macaroni with a fork and knife. I also remember my fellow Pinoys commenting about how maarte the Swede was. I tried to explain to them that that was how the Swedish eat but they said, “Kapag nasa Pilipinas siya, dapat matuto siya kumain na gaya ng mga Pinoy!” Thus, a Swede’s attempt to eat politely was misconstued as kayabangan, an attempt to put down Filipinos.

    Some may be surprised that even when eating with chopsticks what may be proper in China may be considered rude in Japan. For instance, the Chinese way of shoveling food directly into the mouth from the bowl is considered uncouth by the Japanese. To the Japanese, it is acceptable to lift the bowl from the table, but this is not acceptable to Koreans.

    Thing is, while I am irritated by the two Canadians’ calling the Filipino way of eating as “eating like a pig”, I understand why they reacted that way. Their own cultural norms, their concept of politeness at the table, was seen as violated. Filipinos would react the same way when they see Japanese eat soup not with a spoon but by lifting the bowl to their lips, while slurping!

    Another thing, while I understand the two Canadians’ reaction, they were unjust in implying that the Filipino kid was being “rude”. In fact, Luc was really attempting to eat politely as dictated by Filipino cultural norms. Nothing is as traumatic as seeing one’s attempt to be “nice” interpreted as rudeness. When a Japanese slurps his soup and burps after eating, he is not being rude but is actually trying to be polite according to his own culture.

    A little charity is called for on both sides: Monsieur Bergeron, veuillez être moins chauvin! Le garçon n’était pas grossier mais était réellement poli! Veuillez se rappeler que le Canada est un pays libre et qu’en raison de vos actions vous avez fait le mauvais de regard du Canada.; my fellow Pinoys, inakala lang siguro ni Mr. Bergerson na nagiging bastos si Luc! We do not have to far and cry bigotry about what they did. Ika nga, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do!” But of course, Mr. Bergerson’s calling the Filipino way of eating as disgusting is bigoted. dapat tayong mga Pinoy ay huwag din maging bigoted, lalo na sa ibang kultura.

  42. Lucas

    People should also understand that there is a strong discrimination against non-francophones in the province of Quebec in Canada where this happened.

  43. vic

    The matter now is in proper venue. The commissioner of school in Quebec who will hear the case from both sides. The mother of the child now is advised to refrain from talking to the Media by her lawyer until it is resolved.
    This case might go all the way to the highest court if not resolved satisfactorily in any of the lower court proceedings. This will be a test case that will again help us better our understanding of one another. So let the process begins. thanks

  44. cvj

    Until this thread, i considered eating with a spoon and fork a Western practice.

  45. jamcastro

    i think the school should reconsider its instructional measures. wasn’t isolating a kid because he kept doing things differently phased out in the 70s? and this is a KID! aren’t there better ways to get him to eat “the way canadians do”? i don’t think the issue here is whether the child should be taught to eat with a spoon and fork or knife and fork. he’s a kid! sooner or later, i think he’ll probably learn how to eat in their manner.

    and to add, the comment that we “eat like a pig” just because we eat with a spoon and fork just shows the man’s complete ignorance and utter stupidity. using a different set of implements doesn’t make you a pig.

    and if the kid was making a mess, so what? at some point he’ll outgrow it, in my opinion.

    just my two cents. peace out! \m/

  46. micketymoc

    Let me play devil’s advocate here – what if Luc Cagadoc was actually being disruptive in the cafeteria – and that was what the principal was referring to as “eating like a pig”? Is there a chance that there’s also some fault on Luc’s part, that’s being underreported at this time? Of course, I could be wrong.

  47. vic

    micketymoc, your question will be answered soon. In today’s paper (it’s getting the headline here all over Canada) the Quebec Human Rights Commission Is Hearing the Case. Believe it under oath and in front of Proper Authority, the story is sometimes different than what we read and heard in the Media. It will be resolved one way or the other. We don’t leave matter as important as human rights cases dangling as gossip or conversational topic for so long. Until then, and maybe it will go up to our highest court everything is just “she says, he says” kind of things. And I trust in the IMPARTIALITY of our courts. thanks..

  48. Ashley tisdale

    Hei! luogo che interessante avete fatto, ben cotto!

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