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Friday, April 3, 2009

Cheap Chou

There has been a lot of buzz about Tsip Chou’s recent article in HK Magazine; it has been plastered all over the news; it has been the topic in many a conversation; it has even turned to our summer past time. Before I actually searched for it online, I didn’t have an idea on what he actually wrote, aside of course from the infamously quoted “Nation of Servants” line. Which leads me to wonder, do we really know what we are all whining about? Here is the article:

“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 Diàoyú 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. 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.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.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.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.”

After reading that, I didn’t get the reaction I expected. Instead of insulting, I found it terribly entertaining. Why? Because, unlike many journalists, he writes with passion, with attitude, and oomph. Unlike other journalists he does not hesitate to say what he thinks. Unlike other journalists, he is unafraid.

Unfortunately, unlike many journalists, his article was lop-sided, biased, ill-researched and misinformed. And that to me was the funniest part of all: how someone so seemingly intelligent can be so ignorant at the same time.

He wrote this article to be heard, and we all know that he got what he wanted. He probably wanted to be famous outside Hong Kong, and well, he got that as well. He got to be notorious by insulting a whole nation, and I could just imagine the grim satisfaction on his face for all the attention he has been given. Just that image makes me want to slap him across the face, not because of the comments he made, but because I hate people who are too full of themselves. So all the drama and media attention the Philippines is giving him will just add fuel to his fire. Now, a whole nation knows who he is, all because of an article he probably wrote just because he had nothing else to write about and his deadline was fast-approaching. I think Filipinos should not have even minded these stupid statements and careless judgments from Tsip Chou. We all know deep down, that we have become a Nation of Servants. And is there really shame in that? Is there really reason enough to ask for a public apology? Because I checked the dictionary, and the definition it gave was “One who is privately employed to perform domestic services”. And I thought we were proud that Labor was our top export? Now, I am just confused.

I remember everyone being so proud that we, as a nation, find “greener pastures” outside our mother land. We used to celebrate the fact that we live to serve, now, we are insulted by the term “servant”; when it is a fact that some of us live to serve foreigners.

When did we become shameful of the fact that we live to serve, not just people in our nation, but also, people from other countries? When did we start becoming shameful of the fact that Tito and Tita work as domestic helpers in the States? When did we become shameful of the fact that the Filipino is so humble that he is willing to work as a skilled laborer in a foreign country when he is a degree holder in his native land?

I don’t know for sure, but maybe it all started when a careless journalist named Tsip Chou gave his two cents.

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