Sunday, March 29, 2009


Many of my good and best friends are Filipinos of Chinese descent, a number of whom are even more patriotic Chinoys than the average Pinoy, if you know what I mean. Decent, respectable and Godly Chinese-Filipinos, or Filipino-Chinese. They who have made the Philippines their one and only motherland and home, working hard and living well. But, when a Hong Kong Chinese journalist writes an article of insult to hurt some 130,000 hard-working Filipina maids in Hong Kong, I immediately dump everything that's Chinese around me, including all my Ma-Ling, Haw flakes and Melamine-tainted milk in the garbage bin and start sharpening my bolo or gulok, and begin pointing it towards Hong Kong like a rabid but true katipunero, if you know what I mean.

Chip Tsao, a HK-based journalist who writes for HK Magazine has just declared war to all patriotic Filipinos, and most especially to all those who have relatives working in Hong Kong - maids, if you know what I mean.

In his column, Cheap Chow, er ... Chip Tsao wrote, "The Russians sank a Hong Kong freighter last month, killing the seven Chinese seamen on board. We can live with that - Lenin and Stalin were once the ideological mentors of all Chinese people. The Japanese planted a flag on Diaoyu Island. That's no big problem - we Hong Kong Chinese love Japanese cartoons, Hello Kitty, and shopping in Shinjuku, let alone our round-the-clock obsession with karaoke. But hold on - even the Filipinos? 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. The reason? There are 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. 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 that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China. Grimly, I told her that if war breaks out between the Philippines and China, I would have to end her employment and send her staight 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. 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 indocrination 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."

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.

This is a sad day for both satirist and Filipino that I am because Mr. Tsao simply went overboard on this one. I woudn't be surprised if his Pinay domestic helper would from now on spit on his egg-drop soup every time she prepares him his dinner. I just hope he gets to see the difference, but I doubt it very much. As I write this, a juggernaut of reactions have now inundated the HK Online website, and I expect this to drag on for quite some time, unless they pull down the article.

On the other hand, I am reminded of one patriotic tiny man who had a mouthful to say when his country was being "marginalized."

General Carlos P. Romulo.

When the design for the UN flag was subject for approval by its member-nations, General Carlos P. Romulo (head of the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council) pointed out a grand objection. The Philippines had been scratched out from the map of the world on the proposed flag. The artist explained that the omission was unavoidable, for he said it was no longer possible to include the Philippines on a world map bearing the size of a tablecloth. But the tiny man with a huge stature refused to listen at all to any and all excuses! Raising to his full height, the diminutive Tarlaqueno demanded: "I don't care how you do it, just put my country on that flag!"

Today, we have a different breed of mutant-Filipinos holding office in Malacanang Palace, and who would readily give up territory like the Spratlys to a nation of counterfeits like China, perfectly defined with racist rick-shaw operators like Chip Tsao from Hong Kong, who claims to be a former staff member of the BBC, but doesn't say he was fired for lewd behavior.

At this point, I could use a second Lim-Seng right at the Luneta all over again. But on the other hand, give the guy a break. Just make sure its one of his bones, if you know what I mean.
Lastly, if Hong Kong means "Fragrant Harbor," could Chip Tsao mean "Stinky Mooncake?"
Just asking.


Sojourner2009 said...

Mr. Tsao betrays his inferiority complex vis-a-vis the Russians and the Japanese by accepting their abuses and displacing his hidden anger at them towards Louisa( Luisa ? ). Problem is, he is a student of no history. If he flipped some old French history books, he would realize that the French Revolution was precipitated by a gross remark by an arrogant, clueless Marie Antoinette who said, " Let them eat cake. " Her spinners could very well have said she was talking satire. Alas it was too late....Her head rolled when a metal chip cut her hedonistic lifestyle prematurely. Lucky chip, he lives in the internet age where people can unload their rage on him over the cyberspace and his editor can apologize weakly quickly. Otherwise, history will record a Hong Kong Chip Party as a prelude to the alsa masa. Beware of trampling on the last remaining hope of a horribly oppressed nation - the domestic helper - with its people pushed to being what poet Edwin Markham describes as " a thing that grieves not and that never hopes. " It happened with the female Manila Standard columnist who pretended to be a socialite, a local denizen. Did Tsao expect to be spared the wrath she reaped? So now I pity him. For a page full of hubris, he has shrunk his freedom and mobility in his own little Hong Kong, crowded as it is , to start with. And he gets to spend more dough for anti-depressant, anxiolytics, sleeping pills, and anti- psychotics. There must be a Filipino on every square foot of HK on any given Sunday. And yes, Philippine congressional authorities are right in investigating probable abuse of Luisa, considering her boss' publicly proclaimed condescending attitude towards the Filipino people in general. Satire it is absolutely not. It is trash journalism/colonialism pure and simple.

But let us not generalize and demonize everyone who lives in good Hong Kong. I have great, kind, compassionate, professional colleagues who were born there. I have high respect for them. Maligning all of them would be stooping down to Mr. Tsao's level. And it does not foster world peace.


Hernan M. Hormillosa, L.M.S.W.*

* Licensed Master Social Worker
in the State of New York

Jasper Greek Lao Golangco said...

People like Mr. Tsao are the reason Filipino-Chinese are still seen by Filipinos in a negative light... I am a Filipino-Chinese a.k.a. "Chinoy," proud of what privilege my heritage lends me, but also ashamed at what many of my ancestors have done. However, for all intents and purposes, I am a Filipino.
I live in the Philippines, I vote in the Philippines, I think like a regular Filipino, I behave like a Filipino... the only thing Chinese that I have left is my blood...
Let Mr. Tsao bash at the Filipinos who he secretly fears... In the end, words from men like him bear little weight in the grand scheme... the same way I blow off an ant from my palm...

joel ferraris said...

I am a Filipino living in Hong Kong. I have my views regarding this matter. It's here in my blog:

There's more to simply reacting violently than meets the eye. It's examining one's spirituality.