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Servant nation

Chip Tsao should take a break from beating deadlines.
Or perhaps even quit the writing business altogether.
Just recently, the Hong Kong-based writer wrote a column that failed to bring his message across to his readers.
Not that that’s such a big deal.
Many of his Filipino counterparts are a chip off the old block.
Even on slow news days — in which deadline beaters have more time to check their facts, grammar, and sentence construction — Filipino journalists regularly fail their readers, a fault of either their education, intelligence, career choice, or their publishers.
Of course, I may be unduly incriminating myself, being currently employed by a media company.

Chip Tsao said he was being satirical when he wrote that the Philippines was a "nation of servants." Photo from

Hong Kong-based columnist Chip Tsao said he was being satirical when he wrote that the Philippines was a "nation of servants." Photo courtesy of

Nevertheless, as a struggling semi-professional humorist, I have yet to encounter a situation similar to the one faced by Tsao a week or two ago.
Our man in Hong Kong was roundly criticized for writing that the Philippines was a “nation of servants,” in a column entitled “The War at Home.”
The remark prompted many Filipinos — especially leftists who have nothing better to do — to openly condemn what he wrote, express their heartfelt indignation, organize demonstrations, and pressure Manila to file a protest against Hong Kong, and its parent company, China Inc.
In less than 48 hours, Tsao and his publisher apologized, with our man saying that what he wrote was, you know, satire.
Like most bloggers and self-proclaimed journalists, I remain grossly uninformed about abstruse issues that govern humanity, including, but not limited to, the life and times of crazy, middle-aged Asian men (i.e., myself in a few years).
But I’m not exactly stupid, despite appearances to the contrary.
I happen to know a thing or two about satire, having read the Bible when I was in seventh grade, Gary Lising’s “How Green is Your Mind?” in high school, and Amado Guerrero’s “Philippine Society and Revolution” as a zit-faced college freshman.
Upon hearing Mr. T use the “S” word to justify his writing, my built-in bullshit detector went off, a device whose batteries I thought had long expired.
I went online to see what the hell the whole thing was all about.
I read Tsao’s column. Several times.
It was satire, no question about it.
But it was not that well-written.
As a result, functionally illiterate Filipinos — including those who believe that Al Gore invented the internet — were misled into thinking that Tsao was serious.
Owing to his failure to make his point obvious, Tsao should apply for a sabbatical while taking comfort in reading the badly-written comments and/or reviews about Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.
But at the same time, we Filipinos should get a grip.
For starters, we should stop being oversensitive.
Filipinos are fair game, much like Americans and Australians, Canadians and Kazakhs.
And that means no unnecessary outbursts of patriotic sentiment, no overdramatized acts of nationalism whenever someone makes a pejorative comment about us and our country.
After all, however anyone looks at it, there appears to be very little to rejoice about being Filipino nowadays.
And our collective inability to appreciate satire, however poorly-written, doesn’t really help our race any.

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