By GLORIA JANE BAYLON
HEAD bowed in the traditional Confucian gesture of respect and contrition, the acerbic Hong Kong writer Chip Tsao on Wednesday night directly delivered his “most sincere apologies” to Filipinos for downgrading their domestics and branding the Philippines “a nation of servants” by going to the Philippine consulate-general in Hong Kong (PCG-HK).
Also at the PCG-HK at the time were leaders of the 250,000-strong Filipino community in Hong Kong, a special administrative region (SAR) of China.
Following the visit, PCG-HK deputy consul general Kira Danganan-Azucena, seconded by community leaders, appealed to Filipinos “to not allow the incident (to) undermine the friendly relations between the community and Hong Kong society.”
This was relayed to the Manila press early this morning by Assistant Secretary Ed Malaya, spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), who remarked that he prays that with that gesture, the case is hopefully closed.
The apologies at the PCG is part of a series of steps Tsao and his errant publisher, Asia City Publishing Group (ACPG), have undertaken to atone for the offense Tsao’s scathing March 27 column inflicted on Filipinos in HK and outside the former British colony.
According to the PCG, Tsao allowed his photo to be taken during the visit to the premises, putting a human face to a week-old controversy that a just-as-remorseful ACPG admitted was stoked by “politically incorrect” remarks in Hong Kong Magazine.
“Mr. Chip Tsao went to the Philippine Consulate-General in Hong Kong last night and conveyed to consulate officials and Filipino community leaders his ‘most sincere apologies for the offense he had caused,’” Malaya said.
In pre-Wednesday radio-television interviews, Tsao “had offered to meet with the Filipino community face-to-face in his desire to address the very group that he had offended,” according to the DFA.
The PCG-HK and Filipino community leaders officially accepted Tsao’s apologies and acknowledged him for the gesture of visiting the consulate-general, Danganan-Azucena reported to the DFA.
A photo taken of the visit showed the lanky and bespectacled Tsao, who had described himself in the column as “a patriotic Chinaman,” standing beside Danganan-Azucena, as he explained his side.
Tsao explained that he “had never intended to demean any particular group when he wrote the article, whose aim was to poke fun at local authorities and other sectors.”
On Tuesday, Tsao did the round of HK television to also apologize, admitting he “had crossed the line” and went overboard in satirizing Philippine claims on the Spratlys group of islands in the South China sea — which Beijing disputes.
On Monday, the magazine publisher and editors also apologized without reservations, and noted that the publication “has long championed the rights of Filipinos working in Hong Kong.”
It added that “Filipinos have often been unfairly treated in Hong Kong, and that they make an important contribution to this community. As a magazine, we would never want to say anything that would negate that belief.”
The HK Magazine assured its readers “that we have nothing but respect for Filipinos, both living in Hong Kong and abroad.”
Malaya did not indicate if the magazine’s written apology had been published and featured prominently as earlier demanded by the PCG.
Earlier, the DFA also said that Tsao had miscalculated his move, apparently referring to how Filipinos, themselves fortunately well-trained at the English language and could count on a buoyant press for support, would readily get their act together on the slightest slur against the Philippines or Filipinos.
The Philippine Bureau of Immigration has put Tsao on its no-entry list to the Philippines of disrespectful foreigners.
The Filipino community in Hong Kong is represented by the household service workers sector, religious groups, non-government organizations, and professionals.
Domestic workers compose the biggest group, whose monthly remittances to the Philippines is a major chunk propping up the national economy. Philippine News Agency