How Filipinos should react to Chip Tsao's offensive article
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-03-31

In his March 27 article for the HK Magazine (“The War at Home”), Chip Tsao called us a “nation of servants” among other uncomplimentary things. This immediately drew the ire of many Filipinos.

Per the HK Magazine Online, “Chip Tsao is a best-selling author and columnist. A former reporter for the BBC, his columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others.”

Tsao was reacting to our claim of the Spratly Islands which the Chinese government protested when we passed the Baselines Bill. Among the most controversial statements found in Tsao’s article are the following.

1. “Manila has just claimed sovereignty over the scattered rocks in the South China Sea called the Spratly Islands, complete with a blatant threat from its congress to send gunboats to the South China Sea to defend the islands from China if necessary. This is beyond reproach. The reason: there are more than 130,000 Filipina maids working as $3,580-a-month cheap labor in Hong Kong. As a nation of servants, you don’t flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter.”

2. “As a patriotic Chinese man, the news has made my blood boil. I summoned Louisa, my domestic assistant who holds a degree in international politics from the University of Manila, hung a map on the wall, and gave her a harsh lecture. I sternly warned her that if she wants her wages increased next year, she had better tell every one of her compatriots in Statue Square on Sunday that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China.”

3. “Grimly, I told her that if war breaks out between the Philippines and China, I would have to end her employment and send her straight home, because I would not risk the crime of treason for sponsoring an enemy of the state by paying her to wash my toilet and clean my windows 16 hours a day. With that money, she would pay taxes to her government, and they would fund a navy to invade our motherland and deeply hurt my feelings.”

4. “Oh yes. The government of the Philippines would certainly be wrong if they think we Chinese are prepared to swallow their insult and sit back and lose a Falkland Islands War in the Far East. They may have Barack Obama and the hawkish American military behind them, but we have a hostage in each of our homes in the Mid-Levels or higher. 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.” They say the indoctrination is working as wonderfully as when we used to shout, “Long live Chairman Mao!” at the sight of a portrait of our Great Leader during the Cultural Revolution. I’m not sure if that’s going a bit too far, at least for the time being.” (End of quoted portions)

Racist, arrogant and condescending — Tsao forgot that not too long ago the Chinese and dogs were considered to be in the same category and were denied entry in British Clubs. Tsao forgot that in the 1950s and 1960s, the Chinese were miserably poor and were desperately seeking entry into the Philippines in search of a better life.

The first natural reaction of a Filipino to Tsao’s article is to ask Senator Panfilo Lacson to take Chip Tsao on a pleasant, leisurely car ride to Cavite so that Tsao’s offensive prose can be corrected. An angry blogger called the Chinese writer Cheap Tsao. Another Filipino, this one of Chinese ancestry, called Tsao’s attitude a piece of Chinese Chauvinism.

Dr. Stephen Covey of “The 90/10 Principle” fame wisely observed that only 10% of what happens to us in life is beyond our control. The 90% of what happens to us is on account of how we react to situations we encounter in life. We improve or harm ourselves by the way we react.

Your Chair Wrecker would rather react to Chip Tsao’s article in the manner that Dr. Covey suggested — use it to improve ourselves and our nation instead of allowing it to raise our blood pressure. After all, without justifying Tsao’s uncouth prose, this is the price we pay for being backward and for being a weak nation.

It may prick our Filipino pride to read Chip Tsao’s commentary but really this Chinese writer is simply asserting Chinese national pride and interest, something we should wish we had more Filipinos who would do the same for our country.

Taking Chip Tsao on a car ride to Cavite may remove one irritating writer but that does not remove the causes that make us a backward and a weak nation. Getting into a word war with Chip Tsao does not improve the state of our national weakness and disunity but will only heighten the negative publicity.

We should consider Chip Tsao as a mirror of the image that we have been projecting to the rest of the world. Do we destroy a mirror when we don’t like what we see in it?

Rather, let’s take one hard honest look at ourselves and maybe we can finally resolve the real issues that condemn us to this sorry state of humiliation.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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