Sunday, January 21, 2007

Don't Mess with My Dad, You Ugly American!

Here's a funny if infuriating incident at the airport today involving my Dad.

Dad was in Manila this week, at the same time I was, though he was flying back to Dumaguete and I to Davao. His flight was earlier, around noon, and mine was much later in the evening, so he left for the airport ahead.

So Dad lined up at the Cebu Pacific counter marked Dumaguete. He was a tad surprised that the queue was short. (I'm reconstructing the event from his story.)

As it turned out, the American guy ahead of him shooed him away. "We're on a medical mission to Dumaguete, and there are 59 of us," the American guy said. "Go to the other line." And he pointed to the Tagbilaran queue.

Apparently, the medical mission wanted the queue to themselves.

Dad's response: "Why? I'm going to Dumaguete. This is my line. Why are you telling me to go to Tagbilaran?"

If you don't know my Dad, you don't know how much noise he can make. Oh, yeah. He made noise.

The rebuke shut the ugly American up. But Dad wasn't finished. Dad started calling other passengers to the line. "Dumaguete! Dumaguete! This line for Dumaguete!" And pretty soon, there was a long snaking line. The medical mission could kiss their privacy goodbye.

It was only then that two Filipino doctors accompanying the medical mission apologized to Dad.

Sigh. What Dad did shouldn't have been remarkable. By now we have to be able to stand up for our right to decent treatment in our country. But it took my Dad to stand up to the ugly American; all the other Filipinos meekly followed the American's instructions.

Why? Because he spoke English? Because he was blonde and white?

In our own minds, we are still second class citizens in our own country.

Defiance is the only response. Way to go, Dad!

And Mr. Ugly American: you can medical mission all you want, but if you're going to be all superior and rude about it, you know where to stick your medical mission.