The boorish behavior of the woman who threw taho at a policeman in an MRT station might not be so infuriating indeed if she were not from China.
“Context is everything. The public’s incensed response to the incident didn’t come from nowhere, but from an acute realization of the larger picture implied by the fraught interaction between a Chinese national and a Filipino cop: an overbearing foreigner from an outsize country who has behaved aggressively toward the Philippines trying to impose her will on Philippine soil — and at a time when Philippine interests in the South China Sea have been ill-treated by China, and hundreds of thousands of its citizens have flooded the country,” screamed an editorial.
And what might be more infuriating is the perception that enraged Filipinos “can’t count on their China-chummy government to be as angry for them over displays of Chinese obnoxious behavior, whether in the South China Sea or in the country’s capital.” Such perception can easily turn into a frustrating reality with the attempt of a ranking government official to dismiss the incident as a “non-issue trying to be one.”
As I wrote in part one of this column, what can really be disturbing are the questions arising from the taho-throwing episode. 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 finally led many Filipinos to embrace racism? And for those who already felt a bit racist even before China’s expansionism, have they become even more racist with increased ferocity?
“A critical challenge that Filipinos face today is how to confront an aggressive China without embracing racism, without getting blinded by a sinister worldview that would wreck us as a people and weaken our ability to face a belligerent superpower,” columnist Boying Pimentel wrote.
Filipinos who shun discrimination and are proud of a historical past of giving refuge to Jews fleeing the Holocaust would indeed be wrecked as a people if a legacy of racism would arise from the intense antipathy of Filipinos toward China resulting from its intrusion in the West Philippine Sea.
Some respected writers like National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose and Winnie Monsod have put forth the notion that racism has already taken hold in the Philippines and is being strengthened by China’s bullying.
“I know now that in the event of a war with China, many of our ethnic Chinese will side with China so I will not ask anymore on whose side they will be if that war breaks out,” he wrote in a column. “I will ask instead my countrymen — they who are aware of our revolutionary and heroic tradition — the Filipinos who revere Mabini, Rizal, all those who sacrificed for this land and people: ‘What will you do now?’”
In another column, Mr. Jose wrote about the Filipino-Chinese: “They came to the Philippines with nothing, and became wealthy through exploitation of the land and the people. The priority, therefore, is for us now to see to it that the economic power of these ethnic Chinese, whose loyalty to the Philippines is in doubt, should be emasculated.”
And he cites Vietnam as “a very good model” in dealing with China’s expansionism. He pointed out: “During the riots some three years ago, when China set up an oil rig in Vietnamese waters, to which the Vietnamese objected furiously, the Chinese factories in Vietnam were burned.”
For her part, Monsod wrote in a column: “There seems to be no distinction between the Chinese people and the Chinese government... Actually, I have often observed, Reader, that a Chinese-Filipino will never ever state unequivocally that he/she is a Filipino first, and a Chinese second (meaning, his loyalty is to the Philippines).” Does this explain why Filipinos of Chinese blood are called “Tsinoys” and not “Noytsi” or another name to connote being Filipino first?
If China’s bullying is prompting Filipinos to become racists, then much more damage is being inflicted upon our country and upon us as a people.