A ‘non-issue’ if she were Taiwanese?

February 17, 2019

Throwing a tantrum against a policeman indeed happens anywhere in the world. The culprit may be a local or a foreigner, and it might not elicit much public anger.

In the Philippines where untoward incidents, from petty outbursts to violent skirmishes, usually hog news headlines, venting ire on a cop doesn’t really merit much of a fuss that lingers on. Even if what is thrown is more than a temper tantrum – like a cup of harmless soybean curd pudding called taho, or a deadly grenade. The enraged offender is simply subdued or, in the case of a violent crook, dealt with lethal force. And that could be the end of it.

Indeed, a foreigner’s frenzied display of hot temper against authorities might not stir much indignation. Whether it’s a European, Arab, American, Japanese, Korean, or any other foreign national who goes into a fit of anger, most Filipinos aren’t easily provoked into a collective rage.

But not, it seems, when it comes to a Chinese who displayed boorish behavior. Condemnation was swift, especially in social media, against the 23-year-old Chinese woman who threw her taho drink at a police officer who stopped her from bringing liquids into the MRT train recently.

“Aw c’mon. Let’s not be trivial. This can happen anywhere to anyone in any country. Aggression by taho?” tweeted Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. in response to a furious netizen urging that the woman be deported but slapped first. “The non-issue trying to be one is pathetic.”

It might be pathetic if indeed it’s a “non-issue” as a seemingly naïve Locsin likes to think so. But for many, what is really pathetic is how the country’s top diplomat seems to have no inkling of the depth of repugnance most Filipinos feel toward China nowadays.

“There is no let-up in the intense antipathy toward China on account of its occupation of islands in the West Philippine Sea,” says pollster Mahar Mangahas when he wrote about the 2018 SWS surveys. “Filipinos continue to have a low trust in China.”

It used to be that such antipathy was focused only against the Chinese government, and not the Chinese people in general. After all, it’s their government leaders that call the shots in pursuit of expansionism in the South China Sea. And the people are helpless to stop all the bullying, lest they could suffer the same fate as those massacred at Tiananmen Square in 1989 when the world got a glimpse of how ruthless the Chinese government can be against the Chinese people.

But it now seems the antipathy has sadly extended to the Chinese people. Is the public rage against the Chinese woman a reflection of a new wave of anti-Chinese xenophobia sweeping the Philippines? Has China’s relentless bullying led many Filipinos to embrace racism?

If the taho thrower were from Taiwan and not from China, would the public uproar be as intense?

An abusive Taiwanese probably wouldn’t stir so much outrage. Not only because Taiwan is seen as very caring towards OFWs, or has been very helpful to the Philippines in times of disaster, and that we  are thankful for all the past donations of rice, medical equipment, fire trucks, ambulances, etc., aside from the countless medical missions of Taiwanese for needy Filipinos in remote areas – but because Taiwan is trustworthy.

In fairness, China has also been very helpful to our country, yet the Filipinos’ distrust and dislike of China has intensified – mainly because of the bullying in the South China Sea. Most Filipinos think China is so unlike Taiwan which has shown its steadfastness as our friendly neighbor.

Taiwan’s unwavering commitment to uphold the ideals of a responsible member of the international community, as well as its people’s humanity and love for fellowmen – virtues of Buddhism prevalent in Taiwan – are why the typical Taiwanese has earned the trust and respect of Filipinos. (To be continued)

Email: insights.xlr8@yahoo.com