On Chip Tsao’s “The War at Home”
The employer-employee relationship between HK Chinese nationals and Filipino contract workers is a field that pokes always at some sensitive lines, in me.
I think it concerns all of us not just because of national pride, but because perhaps for most of us, we have our own personal encounters with people who work in HK or elsewhere around the world.
To me it is not just because of the Spratly’s Islands. There is something personal about it why I have to break a present status not to go online, much more to blog about it.
His foul attacks simply did not escape me.His comments were offensive to a very sensitive issue on the Kalaayaan Islands. But even more offensive to the sensibilities of Filipinos —not just for the sense of belonging to a “country” or a political state but as a people.
This offense is not about laws, but feelings; Not about territories, but citizens —human beings.
When the controversy about Mr. Tsao’s article at HK Online erupted, it stirred back and resurfaced forgotten pains.
In 2002, one of my sisters, after passing the Licensure Examinations for Teachers decided to work abroad to maximize her time and help the family.
She landed in a domestic job in a Chinese family living in a high-rise home somewhere in HK. Yes, she earned her income from the HK economy. But she had nothing to thank her employers for that.
It was an adventure that turned out to be very, very hard labor.
She had to cut her two-year contract because of her employers’ abuses.
She was asked to do more work, which were not included in the contract; she was not given food for three meals; she was locked in the house when her employers leave for work; she was treated like this and that. She was treated like a slave.
It was a very traumatic experience for her, for us, and our friends. But we have to move on, and we did.
At that time, I wanted to blame the government. I wanted to tell my sister “see, I told you so.” I wanted to launch an international campaign against these abuses, after all this is a world who cares for the endangered species of the tiniest of animals, why not on human rights of domestic helpers!”
But what can a young man do. The rage died down as we moved on. The anger cooled down as typhoon after another crossed the South China Sea. When we saw that she has accepted and has recovered from her experience, we readily offered support for her to move on.
But Tsao, Tsao, Tsao. He only made me realize that the feeling is still there.
Every word that he wrote about HK employers and God knows what they asked their Filipino employees to do I can only think of one thing: abuses.
And he showed it himself, maybe in just a slip, about how many HK Chinese employers really treat their employees.
I offer several points to ponder (Just thinking out loud):
- What Hongkong Online columnist Chip Tsao did not know or perhaps deliberately skipped is that the Philippines is home to many mainland Chinese migrants who made their fortune here and to a certain extent have enjoyed a “favored” status from the Philippine government.
- Of course we expect any Chinese to favor his or her country. That’s what we also expect any Filipino should do for his or her country. But a writer should be magnanimous and leave the confines of their ignorance for this time of enlightenment.
- Tsao has also framed his opinion not only in the viewpoint of war but also in the pretext of discrimination, racial and otherwise.
- Chip Tsao or HK Online is of course not China, so I (who is also not the Philippines) will leave his war freak shot as a mere opinion of a satirical columnist who has ran out of sensible topics to write about.
- Tsao should also think that he has also showed China’s aggression in his write-up: treating the employees as hostages. His ancestors also toiled the workshops, roads, and homes of other lands in the past. His satire is a failure.
- I understand nationalism is a very sensitive subject if you talk in the family of nations but he should also be responsible enough that he writes for international audiences.
- If he meant to insult the Philippine government, then he should only do so and keep Filipinos in general at a space of respect.
Anyway, in the final analysis Tsao is just a columnist. His word is not law. His intention not the truth. His opinion is just dust the wind can blow.