Let’s be honest. Nobody likes waiting in long, snaking lines. Nobody likes to be told what to do. Nobody wants to be rejected. But there are some situations in life where we just have to deal with it.
Over the week, Jiale Zhang, a Chinese national went viral in the Philippines for her untoward behavior: she threw a cup of taho on a policeman after she was barred from entering an MRT-3 station due to the railway’s no-liquid policy. As if the no-liquid ban isn’t controversial enough, Zhang exacerbated the situation with her behavior which many onlookers and netizens called ‘rude’ and ‘abusive.’
This isn’t the first time a foreign national caused public ire over presumably some anger issues. Celebrity Tony Labrusca, an American passport holder, reportedly had an outburst at the immigration area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 last January 3 after he failed to qualify for a one-year visa-free privilege. Labrusca was reported to have called immigration agents “stupid, nor an idiot much less brag about being a celebrity.”
In a long apology letter posted online, Labrusca wrote: “It was very upsetting for me. And I’m sorry that I somehow took my frustrations out on the officer… My biggest mistake perhaps was letting my emotions get the better of me and again I’m sorry.”
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has decided to cancel the visa of the Chinese national, and this may result in her deportation and inclusion in the blacklist, according to Immigration Intelligence Chief Fortunato Manahan Jr.
“The Chinese nationals here and all other foreign nationals staying in our country should respect our rules and laws,” Senator Richard Gordon said. “They should not flout our rules and they should also respect the officials who are implementing our laws.”
Labrusca, on the other hand still has a pending deportation case against him. (Rappler)
According to the latest number of undesirable’ aliens barred by the BI, there are “more than 3,500 foreign nationals during the first 10 months of the year, having deemed that their presence could be detrimental to national interest.” Among them were registered sex offenders, wanted fugitives, suspected international terrorists, blacklisted foreigners, and previously deported aliens who tried to re-enter the country. (Manila Standard) And yes, people with rude and disruptive behavior are considered to be part of this group. This might seem to harsh, but for Filipinos, this is more than just a legal matter. Respect is highly expected from foreign nationals entering the country.
Ask Claire Danes, who, after filming in one of the underserved areas in Manila, said, “It just f***ing smelled like cockroaches.” Or the Beatles who were banned to enter the country after the band missed an appointment to meet the first lady, Imelda Marcos. Dan Brown’s 2013 novel Inferno enraged the public for describing Manila as “entering the gates of hell.”
The Philippines is known all over the world for its hospitality. Non-Filipinos are welcomed with open arms. So it’s only natural that any critical statement or disrespectful act is looked upon by Filipinos with disgust. According to Filipino Cultural Traits: Claro R. Ceniza Lectures, this is deeply rooted in our culture.
“Individualism is simply not a part of the traditional Filipino culture. This Filipino sensitivity and intuition shows the emotional standard of the asal (manners).” We value the key words pakikisama and delicadeza, which roughly translates to “thinking of others” and “proper conduct.”
From when we were young, we were thought about “Good Manners and Right Conduct” in schools.
To outsiders, this might be a foreign concept, but for Filipinos, this is a given.
We only hope that as Filipinos, we extend the same respect and courtesy we expect from foreigners wherever we go (whether on or offline, too). And if ever we get criticized by others, we hope that we will take it in stride and take it as a lesson learned for improvement.