Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Here's to Malu Fernandez never writing again!

I am all for freedom of speech and for freedom of the press but when someone as bigoted as Malu Fernandez takes up the pen (or keyboard) and writes atrocities in the name of free expression, well, then freedom is just fucked up.

I had not wanted to blog about this as I didn't want to even dignify this woman's bigotry but she's attacking a huge part of the population. A noble part of the population, people who have left the comfort of family and friends to work in a strange land just to be able to provide financially for their families back here. So when I heard she had resigned because of the mass protest, I was elated and couldn't help but rejoice about it here! Where there is political will, miracles can happen!

Anyway, the back story...

A couple of weeks ago, Manila Standard Today and People Asia columnist Malu Fernandez wrote about her experience on an Emirates plane where she had to share economy class with Filipino overseas contract workers (OFWs). Here are links to scans of the article:
First obnoxious page
Second obnoxious page

Some memorable excerpts:
  • "The duty-free shop was overrun with Filipino workers selling cell phones and perfume. Meanwhile, I wanted to slash my wrist at the thought of being trapped in a plane with all of them."
  • "[I] dozed off to the sounds of gum chewing and endless yelling of ... 'Hey there! Where are you from? Are you a domestic helper as well?' I thought I had died and God had sent me to my very own private hell."
  • "On my way back [to the Philippines], I had to bravely take the economy flight once more. This time I had already resigned myself to being trapped like a sardine in a sardine can with all these OFWs smelling like AXE and Charlie while my Jo Malone evaporated into thin air."
My friend, Ria, who works as a journalist in Dubai, was the one who alerted me to this issue. And what an uproar it caused. In fact, after a firestorm of protest in innumerable blogs, how did the bigoted woman respond? "Let them eat cake!"

In her actual damning words written in the (just-as-irresponsible) Manila Standard Today:
  • "[My article] was humorous and quite tongue-in-cheek, or at least I thought so, until the magazine got a few emails from people who didn't understand my acerbic wit."
  • "Most people don't get the fact that they need bitches like me to shake up their world."
  • "Although it may sound elitist to you, the fact is this country is built on the foundation of haves, have-nots, and wannabes. One group will never get the culture of the other."
  • "Frankly, I don't want to be someone to bridge the gap between socioeconomic classes. I leave that to the politicians in my family who believe they can actually help."
She should've just shut up. Her defense made the issue worse. People called for her head! The issue finally made it on TV. Here's a clip:

So finally, Malu Fernandez resigned. And we rejoice!

What really makes this worse is that she's a Filipina. How can she be against her own countrymen? I can't stand people like this. Especially people who keep saying, "Oh, how can you live there in Manila when there's nothing like (insert city or country here)?" When Filipinos, especially those who were born and bred here, give me this kind of shit talk about our country, I feel disgusted with them.

I live here because this is my home. Because my country is breathtakingly beautiful, the people are warm and gorgeous, the food is unbelievably delicious, and there is no place on earth that will touch my soul the way the Philippines can. I don't know what happened to Filipinos who love other countries more than the Philippines. Yes, other countries can be prettier or wealthier but that's like saying you prefer another mother than your own.

It's like when I went to London last year, I was so happy. It's always been a dream destination. But after a few days and though I loved it there and thought the Brits were wonderful, I pined away for my country and my people. The warm weather, the hearty laughter, the brilliant sun, the beautiful brown skin, the pungent smells, the food, the food, the food!

Going back to Manila, when the pilot announced that we were entering the Philippine area of responsibility, my heart leaped into my throat. And I was surprised at my reaction! As my plane (yes, filled with noisy OFWs with their noses pressed flat against the windows) neared Manila, the passengers erupted into cheers, and I--Miss Snob who likes to keep to herself and her books--cheered along with them. I have only been gone a week but my eyes filled up. I was home.

If Malu Fernandez doesn't feel that at all, then she should be banned from this country, not just from writing. We hope this woman will never write again! NEVER! NEVER AGAIN!


  1. Hi Frances,

    i'm a regular blog lurker.
    Sorry to burst your bubble BUT she's back--->

    this is so wrong. tsktsktsk!

  2. OH NO! I hope that really was just an undated photo. Manila Standard Today can't be THAT stupid!

    Thanks, Sippinslow. Nice blog, btw!

  3. Hi, Frances! We were officemates in Summit if you remember. I wouldn't mind living back in the Philippines, that's for sure, but maybe not Manila. I think our country is beautiful, but Manila, well, honestly, I think beauty is not one of its qualities. It's strange. It's poetic. It's tragic. It has an intense energy that I still miss, but I don't think I can live there anymore. Laguna, maybe, near the lake. Or even Antipolo. Somewhere you can still breathe.

    Gosh this is a long post :) Sorry, you got me thinking of home eh.


  4. ditto, frances. i don't read manila standard today, but i certainly wouldn't now after its very insensitive move. and with so many people calling to boycott it until they fire mf too? hmm, makes me wonder.
    btw, how are you? hope you're all better now.:)

    hi, sippinslow! i know you!:)

  5. Hi Apol, of course I remember you. I'm an urban girl so I can't imagine living anywhere that's not a city. Like, I love London but I didn't like the suburbs. I think our beaches are the best in the world but I will never volunteer to go to a beach unless it's an all-expense paid trip and even then I hesitate.

    I love cities. The buildings, the busy-ness, the bustling, the crowds, the neon lights, even the pollution. I went to Boracay and my lungs were drowned in the fresh air. Strange since I grew up in Antipolo.

  6. Hi Ivy! Yes, I'm okay na. Doctor just said to stop doing whatever I'm doing when I feel tired or stressed, and just go home. How upsetting! =P

    Thanks for asking!!!

  7. Neighbor! I'm 'back' online after not having internet for two weeks. Funny how we've gotten so dependent on the world wide web. Anyway, I hear you: Manila is wonderful and my workmates hear about it at least once a day and I don't care if they get sick of me talking about Manila ALL THE TIME (also about the fabulous folks out there :)) When I was still a bakasyonista unaware of the struggles of living and working abroad, I would get annoyed during the connecting flight from Japan to Manila because of the "noisy OFWs." But these days, it's a JOY to see and talk to someone in Filipino. So I reckon, on my next trip back to our native land, instead of drowning out all the chatter with headphones, I shall gamely engage in the very Pinoy banter :) Mabuhay!

  8. Mabuhay indeed!

    Well, it's nice some New Yorkers are hearing about our cosmopolitan city but I'm glad you're there, living your dream. I'd like to visit you one day, neighbor! Other places I can see myself living (albeit maybe temporarily) are Singapore and London. Vince wants to go to Tokyo although that city frightens me. Looks like it's from another planet! Amazing!


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