May 1, 2006

Blame Canada

I don't remember how I got a link to this article, but it really ticked me off. A Filipino child in Roxboro, Canada (just outside of Montreal) was punished by a lunch program monitor after this person didn't like the way he ate:
Luc Cagadoc’s table behaviour is traditionally Filipino; he fills his spoon by pushing the food on his plate with a fork, his mother, Maria Theresa Gallardo, says.

But after being punished by his school’s lunch program monitor more than 10 times this year for his mealtime conduct — including his technique — the seven-year-old told Gallardo said last week that he was too embarrassed to eat his dinner.

“Mommy, I don’t want to eat anymore,” Gallardo says Luc told her at the kitchen table April 11. “My teacher is telling me that eating with a spoon and fork is yucky and disgusting.”

When he eats with both a spoon and fork, instead of only one utensil, the Grade 2 student said the lunch monitor moves him to a table to sit by himself.
And when the mother filed a formal complaint against the employee and talked to the school's principal, Normand Bergeron, he said this to her:
"Madame, you are in Canada. Here in Canada you should eat the way Canadians eat."
Quite frankly, I am surprised to learn that this happened in Canada. I mean, I thought we Americans had the monopoly on the "This is America, do as we do" argument. If they're going to ban spoon-and-fork eating in Canada, they may as well close every Thai restaurant in that country. Newsflash: They do it too, damn heathens, eating with a spoon and fork like that. How DARE they. While we're at it, let's chastise the Europeans, who eat with a knife and fork in each hand. Hell, let's banish those Asians that eat with those funky sticks, too. And while we're at it, someone tell those damn Messikins that tortillas are NOT eating utensils!

The principal tried to defend himself by saying Luc's eating habits were "turbulent," whatever that means. Obviously, we all know that every seven-year-old kid has impeccable manners.

Reading stuff like this really breaks my heart. Some fools in Canada, in their patriotic zeal (I got another word for it), ended up giving this poor kid a complex.

Way to go, Canada.

It's this blatant refusal to accept the subtleties of other cultures that makes me pessimistic about issues like racism and immigration reform. Yes, this story came out of Canada, but when was the last time you heard stuff like, "This is America, speak English," or "If you don't like it, go back to where you came from," or even "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve"? Or when was the last time you laughed at a joke that perpetuated a stereotype about a specific culture?

There's always going to be some level of intolerance in our society; I've come to accept that. And maybe we are making baby steps toward inclusion and tolerance. But Jesus H --- the kid is seven years old. I hope my little homeboy in Canada stops feeling ashamed for who he is. And I hope eventually, or hopefully through that "everything is embarassing to me" phase of his life, that he learns to embrace his culture down the line rather than repudiate it.

I hope nobody ever again makes him ashamed to be Filipino.


Angie said...

Did you see in the comments there was a follow-up to the article ---

Seems she's going to transfer her child. Poor kid. Those people are asses.

Anonymous said...

That was sooooo stupid. Since, you borrowed the title for this article from a South Park song. Let me borrow a line from that ditty as well, "They're not a real country anyway..." :p

G.C. UANAN said...

Is there anything wrong with using both fork and spoon? When I was a kid, I was taught by my mother how to properly use spoon and fork. When I entered the seminary, I learned the more gracious way of using both utensils through our “social graces” seminar. Using fork and spoon in eating is a cultural mores just like the use of chopsticks in other Asian countries. Saying that such manner of eating is wrong is like saying that our culture is wrong. How much more if they see us Filipinos eat “kamayan” style? I love to eat with my bare hands especially when sumptuous native meal is served (that would be tuyo, daing or salted egg with kamatis). Does that make me a pig or lesser human? Certainly not!

Four years ago, Bishop Eijk of the Diocese of Groningen, Netherlands (communio partner of our diocese) paid a visit to our diocese. Among the many affairs he attended was the Diocesan Youth Day. We ate “kamayan” style as it was a barrio-fiesta type of celebration. The couple who were part of Bishop Eijk’s entourage were betting whether or not he would use his hands to eat as it was anathema to do so in Netherlands. They were surpirsed when he began to wash his hands and he ate with his bare hands. I admired him for his flexibility and respect to a tradition. He did not feel degraded to eat with his hands and more so, he did not hesitate to do what was anathema in his homeland. More so, during meals at the Bishop’s Residence, he ate with both spoon and fork.

Punishing Luc for using spoon and fork is wrong. Saying that his manner of eating is not proper is worst. It is plain discrimination under the guise of table etiquette. Does using spoon and fork turn us into lower beings and turn the Canadians who eat with fork and knife into higher beings? The answer is NO!

I hope that this is just an isolated case. Otherwise, some Canadians are bigots and racists.