The arrogance of our country’s guests

November 20, 2008

It was just an ordinary morning.  We were running low on dog food and the nearest place to get reasonably priced dog food is about a short 7-minute drive to Paseo.

When I got there, I thought about buying several pieces of mongo bread from our favorite breadshop called The Little Corner Breadshop.  It is one of those few breadshops where the quality of the bread has been maintained despite the price increases of flour and ingredients in recent weeks.

My wife and I have our current favorite – their mongo bread.

There was hardly anyone there so it was really good for me. Usually when I buy bread there at any hour of the day, there is a considerable queue before I could face their bread vendors.

This time there was just a non-Filipino customer waiting. He was an older Korean.  Koreans have widely made their presence known in every part of the Philippines. They are everywhere now, literally. And everyday we see them here where we live.

The bread sales lady, a young woman in her twenties pointed to a kind of bread and said “Cheese roll?” her face directed at the old man.

For some reason, I didn’t know their previous interaction – but this old korean man who was wearing dark glasses and cap screamed “CHEESE BLED!” CHEESE BLEEED!”

I was really shocked. This was my first time to see such inerrant behavior from a guest. And for him to be shouting at a hapless bread vendor was very. very internally provoking.

I felt my jaw tightened and my breathing got harder.  One of the things that can really get my temperature to rise would be any act of injustice.  That was, injustice.

While the old korean man was waiting for his “CHEESE BLED”, I said intentionally to the same lady vendor. I was sure that I stated it in a sing-song pattern that would connote warmth and friendliness…

“Ms… may I have several pieces of your delicious mongo bread.  5 pieces PLEASE?” I said, emphasizing the last word.

The old korean man got his CHEESE BLED and rode off on his small motorbike.

I could hardly believe it.  Filipinos in their own country being maltreated by foreigners who seem to think that they can do just that.

Made me really, really sad because it feel like we have really sold our souls and along with it, our country as well.  They are the ones who are owning businesses here now – and it is so easy for them to do just that. I have wondered if our government has placed any visa restrictions or are we just welcoming anyone (they may even be undesirables, we don’t know…) here in the country.

If you have been to Boracay, just walk along its world’s finest white powdery sand… and you will be hard-pressed to find any locally owned establishments along the beach. They are all owned by foreigners who found the easy way to own properties here.

It would be a miracle to have that old man read this blog – but if you are a foreigner living, studying or doing business here in the Philippines… please be considerate.  The meek nature of the Filipinos are not meant to be abused.  And let us not forget that ultimately, we are all citizens of the world – and thus, all nationality needs to be respected despite their age, education and status in life.  And if you are a guest, it is a common thing to be courteous toward the people of your host country.  Be mindful of the tone of your voice, your sense of space and other behaviors that would show disrespect.

I hope you enjoy your stay. I hope you create wonderful memories during your stay here in the Philippines. But during your stay here, be mindful of your manners.

I got my mongo bread… and I as I was counting my change… the lady vendor said “thank you sir…”

She wasn’t just thanking me for buying. It was deeper than that. She knew how I got flustered when I heard and saw her being screamed at.

The Philippines may not be a powerhouse in terms of might and financial status.  But it is a rich and beautiful country. This is the only one we have so please take care of my country and its inhabitants during your stay.

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