Reyna elena dot com is absolutely correct to take me to task for presuming to catalog people without their permission, something Victorina attributes to a cultural disconnect. Both are absolutely correct: my criticism of those criticizing Chip Tsao was arrogant: unthinking, unfeeling, and unpardonable on my part, because, while entitled to my own opinion, there was absolutely no justification for me to make a sweeping judgment about my countrymen. A negative judgment based on nothing more than my own writerly biases: in other words, a bigoted, prejudiced comment fully deserving of condemnation.
Every reader makes up his or her own mind about whatever it is they read; your opinion is as good as mine; and when enough are of the same opinion, well, if there’s smoke, there’s fire.
That Hong Kong columnist deeply offended many Filipinos and instead of castigating my countrymen, I should have recognized the outrage as a manifestation of our collective sensibility, grounded in deep grievances about what drives so many of us to work overseas, under degrading circumstances, and in the face of often insurmountable obstacles that get in the way of securing a decent, dignified, place in the world for so many of us.
I had no right to pass a dismissive, disparaging judgment on fellow Filipinos, merely because they hold an opinion contrary to mine. Not all of us write, but all of us read, and each one is capable of rendering judgment on matters of taste or the lack of it, concerning anything they read. The writer has a particular responsibility to trust the reader, and if a reader reacts in a particular way, one must accept criticism just as one would accept praise.
I thank these two bloggers in particular for putting me in my place, and I hope they will accept this apology, which I extend not only to them, but to anyone offended by my comment on FaceBook.
For what it’s worth, and purely in the spirit of fostering discussion, let me put forward some of my views concerning satire in general, and Chip Tsao’s piece in particular.
I personally believe that we are a nation born of satire, because it was one of the most effective weapons used by our Founding Fathers as they waged two campaigns: first, to convince their countrymen that they were precisely that, a people with a country they should call their own; and second, to assert before all peoples in all climes, that we are a people the equal of any in the world.
That satire was, at times, quite funny, at other times, quite cruel; that satire lampooned Filipinos and foreigners alike, and Filipinos who had a prejudice against their own countrymen that matched, or even exceeded, the prejudice held by foreigners. It didn’t matter if the satirical pen wielded by our Founding Fathers produced sophisticated or crude, tasteful or rude, pleasant or revolting prose. The point is, they used it, and in particular, the two novels that are in a sense, the founding documents of our country, were satirical works meant to hold up a mirror to reveal, as Rizal put it, the social cancer afflicting the Philippines of his time: and he knew full well the fate in store for those who dare to hold up mirrors for others to see themselves in, whether they want to or not. It got him shot; and before that, it got his books banned and garnered imprisonment and exile for those who dared, not even to take up arms against the authorities, but to laugh at them.
If we hold up as heroes those who wielded their pens -often cruelly- and as much against their own countrymen as the foreign officials and churchmen they opposed, I don’t see how we can deny others the right to take up their pens and do unto others as our heroes have done unto ourselves (for they continue to hold up that mirror to every generation that bothers to re-read what they’ve written). I also don’t see how we can call for the same intolerance -to the extent of demanding some sort of retribution, or even cruel and unusual punishment- when it comes to opinions that we find deeply offensive.
The Founding Fathers fought words with words, opinions with contrary opinions, and demanded of those whom they viewed as prejudiced and bigoted nothing more or less than a fair hearing, a chance to rebut their arguments, and an opportunity to disprove wrong facts with true ones. All the while being careful to point out what they most definitely could not and would never tolerate: silencing dissent with force of arms, and the kind of fanaticism that led to Inquisitions and book-burnings.
To my mind we have a kind of historical obligation to recognize that, perhaps more so than many other countries but at least as much as some countries familiar to us, we are a people and a country that owe our very existence to the commitment of writers to challenge, irritate, offend, and outrage others.
It is for this reason that I oppose our existing sedition and libel laws; and calls for declaring people persona non grata may be all right in places like Singapore, but I think such blacklists have no place in a country whose national hero was once blacklisted on the basis of his writings.
And it for related reasons that I opposed demands for Justice Cruz or Malou Fernandez to resign: it would have been a kind of censorship.
At the same time, every reader has a right, indeed, a duty to react to anything that a writer puts forward and with which the reader disagrees. And, if the writer and his publisher are dependent on the public for their livelihood, the public has a right to take its business elsewhere if its objections remain unheeded by writer and publisher.
Now, with regards to Chip Tsao’s piece, I approached his piece with these questions in mind.
Was he presenting his own opinions, or was he writing a satirical piece? There is a difference between writing, “I, Chip Tsao, think the Philippines is a nation of servants,” and putting those words in someone’s mouth for effect, which is what satire is. It seemed to me that what he was trying to do, is to put on paper what you or I might do when making fun of someone by assuming the character of an exaggerated blowhard. This assumes, of course, that the reader knows he does this on a regular basis; a flawed assumption as it turned out (would it have been different if every single statement that caused Filipinos offense, was attributed to a fictional character who employed a Filipina? Perhaps; it might also have given Tsao a way out).
Was the point of the piece to slander Filipinos or to take Tsao’s fellow Chinese to task? I thought that his main purpose was to paint a highly unflattering picture of his fellow Chinese as cowardly chauvinists who wouldn’t dare tangle with anyone except the Filipinos, and only because the Filipinos happened to be in a financially dependent situation. Chip Tsao in blowhard mode, doesn’t dare question the Russians but happily picks on Filipinos, as do all his household-help-employing Chinese chums. The picture he paints of these employers is a disgraceful one: they have no problems with underpaying and overworking Filipinos, and then they castigate them for daring to assert their country’s sovereignty; the treatment he describes is fully in keeping with the brainwashing and bullying the Chinese themselves endured during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. The whole thing is an indictment of the false sense of superiority of modern-day, wealthy Chinese, who forget, not so long ago, “No dogs and Chinese” signs were posted in Hong Kong (similar signs were posted in Manila), that once upon a time the Chinese provided coolie labor for the world, and that poverty was endemic in Hong Kong and all of China not so long ago, either.
I don’t know if I’d go as far as Indolent Indio, who says Tsao’s on our side; I would definitely go as far as to point out his primary target was his fellow Chinese; that he took them to task for acting like the kind of arrogant Western colonizers the Chinese used to hate; and what’s worse, they’re being prejudiced to fellow Asians while the Chinese remain meek in the face of say, the Russians. What I think happened was that he failed to consider that not everyone would consider his portrayal of a Filipina as either warranted or permissible. Connie Veneracion, pointing to this piece, doesn’t think Tsao holds Filipinos in affection; I think the most he did was simply to make a nod at the wretched working conditions of many Filipinos but that from first to last, the main focus of his attentions -because they are also his readers- are his fellow Chinese.
But this was the root of my folly: to step into his shoes, to the extent that what took over was a feeling of solidarity as a writer, forgetting my first duty to always uphold solidarity with my countrymen. In the end, much as I happen to feel positive about anyone who dares to challenge his fellow Chinese and their monolithic, increasingly aggressive state, that is Tsao’s fight and not mine.
Some blogs and their own take on the whole thing: Ricky Carandang; The Marocharim Experiment; baratillo @ cubao; The Tao of Pao; Manila Bay Watch.
114 thoughts on “You’re right”
Chao’s brand of satire is permissible in my book.
Iâ€™m not too sure that satire is always directed at the powerful.
Throughout history, writers, from Cervantes, to Shakespeare, to Washington Irving, to Al Capp (creator of the satirical comic strip â€œLiâ€™l Abnerâ€), to our own “Kenkoy”, to the writing staff of â€œSaturday Night Liveâ€ and our own â€œJohn and Marshaâ€, have poked fun at both the powerful and the ordinary man. While the follies and the pretensions of the powerful probably make more inviting targets, ordinary folk also make inviting targets for parody and caricature.
Under normal circumstances, the bottom line is that it should be funny and in good taste. But restraint is not always easy to sustain, and things can sometimes get out of bounds. Most especially when there is a culture gap, and when there are social tensions among those cultures or races.
The Chinese are presently on the rise, while Filipinos have been on a slow but constant decline. There are irritants from past experiences that cause both sides to be sensitive. Filipinos (and some Chinese like Chip Tsao) may see present-day Chinese as smug, snobbish, materialistic bootlickers (to the rich and powerful, thatâ€™s why Tsao accuses Chinese of kowtowing to the Russians and the Japanese). On the other hand, some Chinese may still resent Filipinos for once looking down at them and may take a certain schadenfreude at our deteriorating fortunes.
Meanwhile, our leaders want to point fingers at others for our misfortunes, instead of facing up to reality and soul-searching for solutions.
Carl, granted -but they poked fun at their own.
I upward looking lang ang satire, Manolo, eh napaka Elitista naman yun. Only true elitists avoid insulting katulongs. Think about it.
Yes, it’s much more tricky when you poke fun through cultural and racial lines. Especially when there could be some dynamics between cultures. It would be very difficult, for example, for a German to poke fun at a Jew.
I recall that, during the China Olympics, the Spanish basketball team had their picture taken making slant eyes. It was mostly the Western media which took offense. The Chinese were relatively quiet and let it pass without much of a fuss. Would the Chinese take the same crap from “lowly” Filipinos? Perhaps. I think that they can now rise above that.
But I’ve seen Americans caricature Chinese, Japanese and Blacks, with a great degree of humor. They also caricature the staid Brits a lot. And the Brits don’t seem to mind. The Brits are notorious for their own deadly satire. At the end of the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, there was even a lampoon of Bollywood. It was all taken in good humor.
For satires that have gone horribly wrong, refer to the recent case of the BBC, involving Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross. That takes the cake for vulgarity and crass humor.
Carl on Wed, 1st Apr 2009 9:27 am offered an excellent even if only brief analysis of the current resentment brouhaha.
What he says here is absolutely spot on:
“Often enough, thereâ€™s a thin line separating satire from vulgarity and bad taste. Because satire attempts to shock or alarm people out of conventional thinking, thereâ€™s a real danger of pushing the line and descending into boorishness.”
Chip Tsao’s attempt at satire failed because it was both vulgar and boorish.
I didn’t realise that Tsao was the author of the wet nurse piece that I had read somewhere sometime ago until I read DJB’s blog piece and revisited the article. I thought then, and still do, that despite it bordering on the vulgar, it was satirically funny; no issues there. But this piece, Tsao or no Tsao, was clearly cheap and vulgar – miserably presented as satire.
On second thought, could be that Tsao was thinking of starting off an Asian version of Canterbury Tales — well, he’s got a long bloody way to go.
Such magnanimity and humility to recognize a mistake and apologize immediately. Kudos.
The apology from that writer in HK is not acceptable. I’ll never forgive him for that. A slur is a slur, no matter what. Can we call a nation with lots of prostitutes as a nation of whores? That would invite “revolt”. It’s good that he is still banned in entering RP.
So it’s a simple faux pas, not racism?
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know — don’t know the fella from Adam, he could be racist and would be hard put to condemn him if he were as I too could be diabolically racist. Let’s put it this way, it’s paradoxal but racists don’t usually like racists.
Allow me to cut and paste something I posted over at the commenters’ section in Dean’s FV blog:
â€œbecause everyone chose to hear the phrase â€œnation of servantsâ€?â€
If you asked me, I would be perfectly honest, I wasnâ€™t offended by that silly phrase or â€œnation of servantsâ€ of his thinggy. Never thought the Philippines as a nation of servants. To me it was a cheap crass shot but that was all there was to it.
What I found offensive was his description of how the Chinese treated Filipino servants (or is it in HK?) â€” it depicted something that was actually real [and] Iâ€™ve seen Chinese acquaintances behave in this fashion towards their servants so I thought it was crass.
You see, I donâ€™t exactly approve the idea of further stepping down on those that are already at the â€œbottom of the totem pole.â€ (Those Robin Hood tales surely got to meâ€¦ wink, wink.)
I didnâ€™t know Tsao from Adam (although Iâ€™d read the wet nurse thing but didnâ€™t know then until I read Deanâ€™s post that he had written it too) and took his piece for what it was, a vulgar and crass piece of whatever.
Now, the wet nurse thing, I thought, was satirically funny and had no issues there although I remember reading a blog containing incendiary comments about the piece.
The desperate housewife thinggy that provoked a widespread furour in the US didnâ€™t actually affect me because I felt the Philippine doctors in the US were big enough, i.e., the Pinoy doctors were at the higher end of the totem pole to be able to take on a heavyweight battle.
Now on the racism issue, frankly, it occurred to me that the writer was racist when I read the article, reason for my comment on the racist paradox, racists don’t usually like other racists.
(Now, I’m outta here before everyone chases me with their shoes!)
it is rare for many opinion shapers to admit something that may have been overlooked not because of ignorance but of different perspectives and i salute you for the humility of apologizing withhout reservations and conditions.
whenever someone looks for justification for an insult hurled to filipinos or reasons why we deserve such insult, I see a person who has inferiority complex.
What’s wrong with the words “nation of servants”? A lot especially when Chip Tsao equated it to slaves. in this modern world where politically incorrect terms could mean discrimination and or racial slur, his reference to masters and slaves is not acceptable for the employer-employee relationship where rights and dignity are to be respected by both parties.
“Only true elitists avoid insulting katulongs”.
The distinction is if you are insulting them as a group as a matter of occupation, or as a separate person. Sure a katulong who is a rotten egg is fair game. Otherwise, you are patronizing him or her and letting him off the hook dahil lamang sa katulong sya.
And besides, if you want to insult or disparage any group, and of course, we do all have our prejudices and we are all a bit of racists, one way or the other, do so in intimate company, not on the Worldwide Web, otherwise you are a bird-brain like Chip Tsai. LOL, he wanted to be popular, well, he got it.
For all Chip Tsao’s slur against his maid Luisa and her kind and the DHs, satire or no satire, his fellow Chinese were not fair game to me. E ano ba kinalaman ng mga ibang Instik sa kabalbalan ng isang miyembro ng tribu nila?
Still, it serves this Cheap character right that the outcome of racist comments against the Chinese were all his fault and for which his fellow Chinese should take him to task. I bet he felt pressured to apologize because the HK people were close to ripping his innards themselves, if he didn’t do it.
Whatâ€™s wrong with the words â€œnation of servantsâ€?
Nothing if you are only up to the title. That is funnier than Chip Tsao himself. Chip Tsao detailed his mockery of a Filipina maid.
I have a Mexican gardener and an Anglo-Saxon pool guy but I don’t mock them just to make a point to Mexican or US government.
If a Filipino agrees with Chip Tsao with his “nations of servants” degrading the services of Filipina maid, good luck since we cannot help you with your self-respect. On this account I agree with The Ca t on inferiority complex. We don’t have that and it is not curable.
@Carl on Wed, 1st Apr 2009 5:42 pm
“Iâ€™m not too sure that satire is always directed at the powerful.
Throughout history, writers, from Cervantes, to Shakespeare, to Washington Irving, to Al Capp (creator of the satirical comic strip â€œLiâ€™l Abnerâ€), to our own â€œKenkoyâ€, to the writing staff of â€œSaturday Night Liveâ€ and our own â€œJohn and Marshaâ€, have poked fun at both the powerful and the ordinary man”
indeed, but if they will do, they will be roundly criticized for it.
recently SNL wrote a sketch about the mortgage crisis and made fun of poor people (these were real people in fact) who took on loans they subsequently reneged on.
they took the online video down the next day coz of criticism that that they are mocking the weak and defenseless…
Gabby on, “and our own â€œJohn and Marshaâ€, have poked fun at both the powerful and the ordinary manâ€.
Yes you can poke on mistakes and stupidity which is found across all lines of divide. But mocking of Filipina maid is below the belt, so the rightful indignation. Chip Tsao was pointing to the stupidity of Philippine government on Spratly. But there is none on helpless maid earning a decent living.
cheap tsao may have done it purposely, recklessly and knowingly. is there a libility? punitive damages are payable in cash 🙂
is there any organization of maids or servants in the Philippines? an organization with a common purpose to maintain dignity and respect among its members can be a group that can actually sue or file charges against the HK magazine for emotional distress, racial discrimination or organizationâ€™s discrimination, labor discrimination and many more. It is how an organization interprets the article. Your group may be able to have common reason ( REASONABLE among you ) to sue. Conditional threat such as discriminative statement can be treated differently in TORT law.
wanna discuss it?
you wanna discuss TORT Law about SLUR? we are done with P of I, right?
I don’t think you should have apologized Manolo…… look at what happened naunahan mo pa si Chip Tsao, lol.
You intellectualized Tsao’s racism slur too much just because he is a known writer. If written by an unknown blogger you may have reacted differently.The main point in his article was to insult the Filipinos- maids or not, you and me.
That’s the problem sometimes with intellectual approach to things- one fails to define one’s position clearly, one loses shape and substance.
Baycas on, “Ethnic or racial slur already in a textbook”.
“A nation of servants” by itself is not a slur. It is how the user use it to the detail like Chip Tsao did.
Being a satirical writer, Chip Tsao knew how he can manipulate words to his design and blame it on English language. Only if we were born yesterday. Funny.
i italicized “ethnic or racial slur.” it depends, of course, on one’s POV.
Chip Tsao is a nobody. A trying-hard writer who really doesn’t make the grade. Besides, I am not very fond of the caustic Chinese sense of humor. All this outrage about Chip Tsao will soon pass. And Chip Tsao will continue to be a Z-list writer.
The most important question for me is, after this furor dies down, will we become less of a nation of servants? When one sees those Filipino domestics congregating in public in Hong Kong, it does seem to project that image of our country. For many Chinese, who don’t know better, that is the image they have of the Philippines. I have also noticed how it makes many upper-class Filipinos uncomfortable, preferring to turn another way. They would much rather not be lumped along with those domestics.
I would rather focus my indignation on those who were responsible for making our country a nation of servants. Why are our people fleeing in droves, happy to just be domestics in another country?
baycas on, “i italicized â€œethnic or racial slur.â€ it depends, of course, on oneâ€™s POV.”
True as it speaks loudly whose POV you are advocating even if it is your own. Did you consider it is closer cleaning Chip’s toilet? Just a humor.
Carl on “The most important question for me is, after this furor dies down, will we become less of a nation of servants? When one sees those Filipino domestics congregating in public in Hong Kong, it does seem to project that image of our country. For many Chinese, who donâ€™t know better, that is the image they have of the Philippines. I have also noticed how it makes many upper-class Filipinos uncomfortable, preferring to turn another way. They would much rather not be lumped along with those domestics.”
Carl, it is about human dignity. You, I, them, the maids. Image is inconsequential unless you are beemer person. Taking care of households and children is an important valued job in Hongkong which Filipina maid earn higher than maids from other countries. The Chinese don’t care if we are nation of servants and I don’t care either. It doesn’t change the fact that they still need Filipina maids. In the end, Chip Tsao admit his mistakes of crossing the line. In his apology, Chip Tsao swallowed his nations of servants satire demonizing Filipina maids and took refuge in the same word servants as sacred emphasizing we are all servants to God.
Pedestrian Observer on, “What now?”
Carl on, “would rather focus my indignation on those who were responsible for making our country a nation of servants. Why are our people fleeing in droves, happy to just be domestics in another country?”
Something like these are jumping too far than the original issue of trashing the decent services of Filipina maid. Granted it is fair issue, but why kill the service industry that lays the golden egg and provide basic necessities back home. Neither the officials are responsible for having more kids nor Filipino couples question their Catholic faith on over population. It is like shooting yourself.
Well, as if this “nations of servants” tag ain’t enough, the Philippines is now officially in the G20 blacklist of nations with corrupt banking practices and taxation malpractices:
“The agreement: the final G-20 document would state that the G-20 nations â€œstand ready to deploy sanctions to protect our public finances and financial systems. The era of banking secrecy is over. We note that the OECD has today published a list of countries assessed by the Global Forum against the international standard for exchange of tax information.â€
And minutes after that speech…
“Last night, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development issued a â€œblacklistâ€ of four offending countries: Costa Rica, Malaysia, the Philippines and Uruguay.”
There is nothing wrong with being a “servant”. The work is honest and most of our overseas workers perform their jobs diligently, without taking advantage of other people. The fact that we, Filipinos, try to earn a daily wage as hard as we could, without resorting to theft or fraud, is something to be proud of.
The fact that our country does not provide opportunities for our people to thrive in their own land is not something to be proud of. Our leaders and those who try to represent us missed the points made by Tsao’s article completely. By arguing
that the article is not a satire, but merely a slur against Filipinos indicates that we do look down on “servants”. By insisting that Tsao was indicating that Filipino maids should be mistreated if they do not bow to their masters’ wishes
misses the actual message that Tsao was trying to convey that it is wrong to stand up only to those whom you think are weak. Tsao was ridiculing China for not standing up to Russia and Japan. Tsao was ridiculing China for choosing to pick the fight for the Spratly islands simply because the opponent here is the Philippines, a nation of servants. That is the satire and it is sad that even the Philippine media would even go as far as imagining that Tsao is actually abusive to his maids. Tsao was merely ridiculing the act or notion that some people might actually resort to mistreating their servants just to feel superior or more powerful.
Our misunderstanding of Tsao’s satire not only sends the message that we do not understand what a satire is, but also sends the message that we ourselves actually look down on “servants”.
Angel de Dios on, “Our misunderstanding of Tsaoâ€™s satire not only sends the message that we do not understand what a satire is, but also sends the message that we ourselves actually look down on â€œservantsâ€.”
Excuse me sir, please don’t include us to your own misunderstanding. You need to undertand both the publication and the writer already made an apology.
Try to read carefully the statements of apology that were made….
AdB on, â€œLast night, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development issued a â€œblacklistâ€ of four offending countries: Costa Rica, Malaysia, the Philippines and Uruguay.â€
Blacklisting has no effect on corruption except the regime change solution which is becoming unpopular. Actually, World Bank and United Nations have difficult time achieving their goals on poverty alleviations through economic development by infrastructure because of the reaching hands of government. They already blacklisted corrupt contractors but the government refused to investigate them and even turned WB into circus.
G-8 needs to do more but the problem is who will subsidize the cost. They are also facing serious threat from failed states in Africa, from failing ones elsewhere than from merely the corrupt ones like Philippines.
Angel, even if Chip Tsao did not believe in his own apology it is not that important but public opinion does. He made mistakes, the public reacted and he relented to public indignation. It makes safer environment for the Filipina maids when the publication affirmed to carry the cause of such service industry.
The apology was sincere and they said what they meant.
If a piece of writing could be taken straight to the point then the actions described reflect the thinking or opinion of the author. In a satire, the actions or situations being described are being ridiculed – and therefore, opposite to what the author is actually recommending.
Katrina on, “didnâ€™t need to apologize. He could have merely explained himself.”
This is the reason Manolo stands out of the rest who are still speculating.
More power to you, Manolo!
MLQIII, thanks a lot for this post. I recently started blogging again (it’s my website) and I agree with many of the things that you’ve said about Chip Tsao. We Filipinos have to rise beyond being inflamed at such petty provocation (if it is even that)
Angel C. De Dios on, “In a satire, the actions or situations being described are being ridiculed – and therefore, opposite to what the author is actually recommending.”
I am sure you can very well pick up the inseparable corrective purpose of “that you are cleaning up Chip Tsao’s toilet for good measure”.
I read your blog and I think you got the point.
Angel and Anthony,
I believe this is right up your alley… another “secure” Filipino who “gets it”.
Keyser “I’m offended so I guess I need jokes explained to me” Soze
“We havenâ€™t just become a nation of servants, weâ€™ve become a nation of illiterates.”
Conrado de Quiros “Chip on the Shoulder
Manolo didn’t have to apologize for other bloggers and persons’ apparent insecurity and inability to understand.
Its true, we are a nation of servants, whats wrong with that? If we start out as janitors, then we better work our tails off to be the world’s best janitors. Respect is earned not demanded in a childish tantrum…if someone is bastos to us its his problem, siya naman ang bastos di ba, just ignore him…its as simple as that.
“We havenâ€™t just become a nation of servants, weâ€™ve become a nation of illiterates.”–c. de quiros, pdi,4/6/2009
Conrado de Quiros on, â€œWe havenâ€™t just become a nation of servants, weâ€™ve become a nation of illiterates.â€
Res ipsa loquitur. Nobody can argue with that having Conrado De Quiros admit himself as illiterate, another self-inflicted wound.
In essence, nobody needs a Filipino apologist like Conrado De Quiros and the rest of satire believers, because they cannot be counted upon to make a difference and made it possible for an opinionated Hongkong writer to apologize.
That I can LOL!
Like most bloggers who apparently have never worked for foreigners or dealt with bullies in their lifetime, these noisy pretenders still believe they can make a difference by pouncing on someone who does not agree with their insecurities, even to the point of getting personal with the comments, hair? sexual orientation? education?
After working for colleagues that have at least 2 Filipinas as domestics, you learn to earn respect by merit and not by demanding for it. You earn respect by advancing to the level or even beyond their level, let them realize they were mistaken in their earlier perception and feel silently silly with their biases.
Dealing with bullies in real life is not like what it is in the movies, where you stand up and duke it our ala Fernando Po, because it doesn’t end there. You just make sure you’re focused on your purpose, finishing school, with honors…bullies seldom have that type of focus and will move on to the next victim, until he tires himself silly or drops out of school.
Its ridiculous celebrating this apology, when we don’t know what is not being said in the homes where these domestics work in, or how they will be treated in the days to come. I wonder if these noisy group have ever won any cases against HK homeowners who maltreated their domestics? Or will they be interested then?
These bloggers acted like bullies in their reaction to a different opinion but I guess they didn’t notice that because it wasn’t written in plain and simple English? I give a lot of credit to Manolo for handling it well, let them find someone else to pick on and life goes on…
Ramrod, you got your bully backward. Bully by nature, initiate a condemnable act with arrogance that he can get away with it and from position of power or strength. Only when sensible people stood up to him and made him accountable for his disparaging write-up, then the bully relented and apologized.
There is only one bully so far by that descriptions, Chip Tsao. Second, there is no celebration. Third, there is no sense of asking respect from a bigoted writer as you had imagined demand of respect. Dismissing the noisy pretenders as not having your experience working for foreigners, reveals your own insecurities.
Manolo – sorry, I didn’t realise you’d already written about this.
But you’ve got it right. Angel C de Dios has it right, and Conrado de Quiros has it right. And Indolent Indio and onetamad also have it right.
The indignation rests on a cultural and linguistic misunderstanding.
Frank Tsao was not trying to attack Filipinos, he was attacking great-China nationalist attitudes. Now Tsao is not a great writer, and I do not defend him from the charge of clumsiness. What I do protest against is the idea that his intention was to attack Filipinos, because quite to the contrary, his intention was to defend Filipinos.
He was defending Filipinos by using satire.
It’s worth reading the Wikipedia entry on satire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satire).
“A very common, almost defining feature of satire is its strong vein of irony or sarcasm, but parody, burlesque, exaggeration, juxtaposition, comparison, analogy, and double entendre are all frequently used in satirical speech and writing. The essential point, however, is that “in satire, irony is militant”. This “militant irony” (or sarcasm) often professes to approve the very things the satirist actually wishes to attack.”
An example (given by Wikipedia) is Swift, who in his ‘A Modest Proposal’ suggests that poor Irish parents be encouraged to sell their own children as food.
Of course, Swift did not mean this. He was not demeaning the Irish. He was not actually encouraging them to sell their children as food. So why did he say it? Because he was satirizing the heartlessness of the governing English – and defending the Irish against English callousness.
Tsao, similarly, is satirizing Chinese attitudes, and defending the Philippines.
To any English person who lives in Hong Kong, this is completely obvious. The fact that Tsao carefully points out that his maid is enormously well-educated, is, for instance, an indicator. What blinkered racist would have noticed that his maid was intelligent and well-educated? Yet Tsao, through satire, contrasts the (high) intellectual quality of his Filipina maid, with the (low) intellectual quality of the nationalist persona which he satirically assumes.
Read the text: “Some of my friends told me they have already declared a state of emergency at home. Their maids have been made to shout “China, Madam/Sir” loudly whenever they hear the word ‘Spratly’.
In the popular mis-interpretation Tsao would be reporting fact, he would actually have friends doing these absurd things.
But of course, that is not the case. Hong Kong people do not teach their maids to shout ‘China, Sir!’ whenever they hear the word Spratly. Tsao is satirising nationalist attitudes, by putting in an anecdote which he must have assumed would be immediately recognizable as a piece of mad whimsy, totally incredible and over the top – a satire on unacceptable Chinese attitudes.
Sadly, he didn’t count on his words falling into a context with little live tradition of political satire (whatever may have been the case with the Founding Fathers). A context in which, instead, his words have been interpreted entirely literally. Tsao has said these words! Oh awful, wicked, racially bigoted Tsao! Let us demonstrate against Tsao! The level of anger is high. Commentators on blogs talk of waiting outside Tsao’s apartment to punish him physically.
Yet it is all a misunderstanding. Tsao’s target is Chinese nationalism.
Matthew P on, “The indignation rests on a cultural and linguistic misunderstanding.” “What I do protest against is the idea that his intention was to attack Filipinos, because quite to the contrary, his intention was to defend Filipinos.”
Another sweeping accusations of Filipino misunderstanding -this time blamed on language and culture. It would help Matthew’s POV if he can pinpoint and support in substance that Chip’s Tsao interest is in the Filipinos as opposed to Chinese.
The only misunderstanding here is Matthew’s wild assumption of a patriotic Chinese defending Filipinos.
Satire, written competently, need no explanations.