Uber-cool Fil-Chi priest Fr. Ari had some words to say on Apostol's racist remark. Needless to say, he was nicer about it than he should have been. But then, he *is* a priest.
For several years now, the widespread celebration of the Chinese New
Year has illustrated the nation's acceptance of the Chinese-Filipino
or Chinoy community as an integral and significant part of Philippine
society. Last week, however, during the week of the Chinese New Year,
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol reacted to the Senate
testimony of Rodolfo Lozada, Jr., by calling him a "crying lady." He
is also quoted as saying, in reference to Lozada, "They say he's a
Chinese from the province. Bagay sa iyo i-deport ka. Magulo ka dito
(You should be deported because you're troublesome)."
Apostol's comments are not only ad hominem, they also show that
despite the perceived acceptance of the Chinoys in Philippine society,
old racist tags are still very much around. Apostol should realize
that he will only get as far as Bicol if he's going to have Lozada
deported. This episode demonstrates what Chinoys have often lamented,
that when their financial help is needed, the government and other
bodies are quick to acknowledge their unique place in the Philippines.
But the moment Chinoys need help or try to break free of economic
stereotypes, as in the case of Lozada, a Chinese mestizo (and proud of
it!) who is trying to set things aright in his life, then the old
prejudices emerge once again.
Apostol is not the first public official to utter a racial slur
against the Chinese during an emotional outburst. Whether he
apologizes or not, perhaps it will be a worthy Lenten exercise for all
of us to examine the latent racism that we may still harbor within our
selves--against other Filipinos, and against those who are different
from us in any way.
Fr. Ari C. Dy, SJ
Director, Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies
Ateneo de Manila University