Jiale Zhang, 23 awaits booking by MRT police. Photo: theweek.co.uk
ast week everyone was talking about it. From your man-on-the-street, to your top government officials, everyone seemed outraged at Jiale Zhang, a 23-year-old Chinese student studying fashion design in the Philippines. How dare this foreigner throw a cup of taho (a popular snack soft tofu and syrup) at a police officer of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) when he refused her entry. The officer was just doing his job. In response to a recent bombing incident in Mindanao, MRT authorities issued a ban on liquids being brought into trains.
For whatever reason—and we are by no means defending her action—Zhang lost her composure and threw her cup of taho at PO1 William Cristobal. Officer Cristobal, to his credit, acted with restraint and professionalism through it all.
What we find somewhat disconcerting, is the over-the-top reaction by many to this relatively minor incident. Zhang was immediately booked on assault charges, allowed to put up bail, released, but immediately re-arrested by the Bureau of Immigration pending deportation proceedings. All the while, social media lit up with online comments full of righteous indignation. Celebrities as well as government leaders weighed in pointing to the country’s wounded pride, and vowed not to allow ourselves to be disrespected or pushed around by foreigners.
We Filipinos need to begin learning to operate from a position of strength. So far, we operate from a position of weakness and insecurity. Then we become thin-skinned and think that every minor infraction by a foreigner is meant as an insult towards us. If this incident had happened in a country like the United States, Ms. Zhang would have been charged with a misdemeanor, taken to court, given a fair trial, and if found guilty, she would be fined and/or sentenced. There would be none of this “wounded national pride” hysteria that all-to-often occurs here. Because at the end of the day, a local could just as easily have done what Zhang did. We all know some Filipinos can be just as rude, especially when dealing with underlings. It’s high time we, as a society, grow up and begin shedding our insecurities. Published 2/18/2019