An Australian MP Says Sorry for Calling Chinese Officials ‘Mongrels’ and ‘Bastards’

TIME

Australian legislator and mining tycoon Clive Palmer has “most sincerely” apologized for a blistering attack on the Chinese government, reports the BBC.

During a live debate shown last week by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the 60-year-old billionaire — whose own Palmer United Party holds the balance of power in Australia’s Senate — slammed Chinese officials as “bastards” and “mongrels” who “shoot their own people.”

“They’re communist, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country,” he said at the time. “The Chinese government wants to bring workers here to destroy our wage system … they want to take over our ports and get our resources for free … I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stopping them from doing it.”

China is Australia’s top trading partner, and Palmer’s tirade prompted a fierce backlash in a state-linked Chinese…

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Of Polite Insults

One Monday morning, I attended a lecture regarding French culture, and our lecture had a particular focus on the French Revolution, along with the three major events between the years of 1789 – 1794, as well as the legacy the revolution left behind to not only the French, but to many countries across the globe (with a particular emphasis on former French colonies–Canada included).

One interesting thing I noted was that emphasis on political eloquence since the French Revolution. The term ‘political eloquence’ integrated itself into the English vocabulary since the revolution. The origins of this term was that politicians during the French Revolution sold speeches in great numbers leading to the  modern definition and tradition of statesmen integrating wit in their speeches and having an overall mastery of language.

To put what my lecturer told us bluntly, this allows for politicians to carefully express their ideas, opinions and plans to other politicians at the same time handing out very subtle insults. My lecturer then proceeded to tell us that a French politician can insult the French President in twenty-seven different ways without the need to be uncompromisingly forthright with their words–a statement that had me giggling later that day.

That same Monday, I was sitting in the library doing my readings for the day when my lecturer’s words suddenly came back to me, which is then immediately followed by a memory of a fellow Canadian living in Melbourne politely insulting me (to which I politely insulted her back), which is then immediately followed by another memory of me politely insulting a friend of mine while I was still living in Canada.

This could be a far fetched theory, but what if the importance of political eloquence in France was some how exported to Quebec and later throughout the rest of Canada? Even after their defeat in the Seven Years’ War? And used not just in political speeches, but in every day life? Such as politely launching insults to each other perhaps?

Living here made me realize just how much insults hidden by politeness had been integrated into Canadian culture as the majority of insults I noticed in Australia is more straightforward and to the point. I realize that in Canada, there are just as many bluntly stated insults as there are here in Australia, but it’s more common to shoot insults by being polite, then watching the person getting a certain look on their face as soon as they realize they’ve been politely insulted.

Like the time my Canadian friend politely, and very subtly, suggested I become a courtesan just after we finished talking about boys, sex, and a very high end party that my friend went to in which the host is wealthy enough to get enough training to become third in the Winter Olympics in skiing. The fact that she chose ‘courtesan’ instead of ‘prostitute’ tied in very well with the previous things we talked about. That one conversation quickly became the most memorable conversation I had since moving to Australia.

What If’s?

Taking a look at the other students around me, there are just so many things that I want to do and a lot of regrets building up about what I should have done in the past.

Sitting next to me in the library is a music student, busily working on a music theory assignment, probably composing her own piece. I see another student discussing biology, two talking about their computer science class and another talking about their engineering classes. It really makes me wonder what would have happened if I actually stuck with any of the subjects that I absolutely loved, or the subjects that I despised but I know would have led me to a career where I would enjoy doing.

What if I stuck with biology? What if I stuck with it, worked hard, went to get extra help despite my utter hatred of doing any sciences and maths? Would I have been able to go to university here in Australia for veterinary sciences? What if I did just that? What if I saw myself being happy in helping our neighbours in this world?

Or what if I continued to push for music lessons? What if I learned violin and piano on top of the saxophone, flute and singing? What if I decided to pursue a career in jazz performance and threw in a couple solos with my flute? My saxophone? My voice? What if I practiced for hours on end for every day of the week to the point where I need to stop in order to give my chops and/or voice some rest?

Or what if I decided to pursue law? What if I worked hard and had the drive to become an immigration lawyer? What if I wanted to help people escape from poverty in other nations? What if I want to do everything I can in order to prevent someone from being deported back to a life they worked to leave behind? What if I wanted to become a lawyer specializing in family law? What if I wanted to specialize in helping children escape any horrors that they’re having in their own home? What if I wanted to help people escape their abusive partner? Or defend the innocent? Or prosecute those who deserve it?

It’s these questions that make me wonder if I’m really doing the right thing by choosing what I’m studying. Yes, I have a dream of one day working abroad in a Canadian Embassy, helping people move to Canada and yes, I think the classes I’m taking would help me achieve this. But, I’m also wondering if I’ll make it one day in that field. I also wonder what would happen if I become a veterinarian, or a musician, or a lawyer specializing in family, immigration or criminal justice.

Would I be proud about what I’m studying when someone asks? Not that there isn’t anything wrong with an Arts degree (aside from the locals constantly having quite a lot of inside jokes about arts students).

Studying abroad does have its advantages, but it also has quite the amount of risks as well. What if I don’t find a job after graduating? What if my application for diplomacy training doesn’t go through? What if the degree I have from studying abroad isn’t recognized in Canada? What if I’ll never reach my dream of one day working as an ambassador?

It’s all these things that really terrify my, but I also think that worrying about the ‘what if’s won’t do me any good. I’m here, I’m studying, I know I’m going to be alright. Career wise, I don’t know only because I can’t predict the future. It’s something that I would have to take one day at a time.

Of Warm Drinks and Confessions

Whether if it’s a new born babe having their mother’s breast milk to a full grown adult drinking coffee on a daily basis, I like to think that every living person on this planet had a nice, warm drink at some point in their lives. For a coffee addict such as myself, a nice warm cup of coffee is more than just a cup of coffee and here are my three reasons why.

1. They keep me going.

In the ups and downs of life, a single cup of coffee (or three in my case) can really make a difference in my focus. It keeps me thinking, even if I continue to be half-asleep most days during the Australian winter season. It reminds me that like the espresso shots that give me the short bursts of energy that I need every day, I need to use that energy to do the things that I need to do. Things like study for my classes, pray that I pass my classes, apply for jobs, vacuum my living room, wipe the kitchen counter, clean the bathroom, straighten my bedroom, mop the floor, wipe the window, sweep the dust, take the trash, oh god I need to clean the whole apartment… and then study some more.

Thus the cycle begins once more.

(Hence why I went from one cup every 3 days to 3 cups of coffee a day)

2. Coffee is always there for you.

Whether you’re at a coffee shop or at home in your kitchen, coffee will always be there for you at every turn. Every break up, coffee is there to give you a warm hug. Got into the school you wanted? Coffee will be there to congratulate you. Planning on moving? Coffee will follow you no matter where you go. They will sit there listening to you as you pour your heart and soul, your dreams and aspirations, your likes and dislikes, who you love, what your plans are for the future… You can even sit and reflect on your choices and coffee will still be there.

It will always be there.

No matter what.

3. Lastly, they provide a warm hug!

Whenever I fall prey to the evil that is procrastination, I would spend my time watching TV shows and movies online that would either break my heart into itty bitty pieces or have me rolling on my floor. On the days where I watch those TV shows that would spring tears in my eyes, I would always be huddled on my couch, my fuzzy blue unicorn blanket wrapped around me, my laptop in front of me, a box of tissues on my lap with a steaming cup of coffee in hand. As I shed my tears, I would take a sip of a steaming cup, and I would feel comfort engulf me.

On the occasion where I’m feeling homesick, a warm cup of coffee would ease it all. I would take on the hour long journey of travelling all the way to one of the 6 Starbucks cafe locations in all of Melbourne, order my age old favourite of a venti (large) latte, take a spot by the window all the while pushing aside the sadness that I live so far away from any Starbucks locations. I would think about a particular Starbucks cafe in Canada where my mother and I would always drive 15 minutes for, completely ignoring the other three locations that were all in walking distance. It’s a larger location where the staff are friendlier, the atmosphere being more relaxed and the customers all somehow knowing one another. I would rush over to the line, and patiently wait for my turn. Sometimes when I’m waiting, a barista would see me and say “Hey Jess, how’s it going?”

Yes, I’m one of those customers where I go to one particular location so often and order the same drink every time to the point where I’m friends with the staff and they know my usual drink. After ordering my drink, I would sit by the window for a couple hours at the very least, either chatting with my mother, playing around on my laptop, or chat with the friends that I occasionally bring with me.

Being so far away from home (and from that Starbucks) would sometimes hit to the point where I would be very willing to travel for about 45 minutes in order for me to get the comfort that a Starbucks coffee can give me. It would remind me that I have two homes now: one in Melbourne and one in Canada. After a while of sitting around and drinking my drink, I would feel a lot better before I would make my way home.

And there you have it folks! My confession of the day? I need to stop thinking of coffee as a person.

O Family, Where Art Thou?

To start this little story off, I thought it was ridiculous to assume that anyone from a particular region of the world is some how your relative. I thought my good friend Jon was ridiculous for assuming so. That is until two incidents happened.

The first was when Jon found out that he happened to be a distant cousin (emphasis on cousin, might I add) of an incredibly gorgeous half-Filipino girl that he and our other friends were ogling at and chatting about for a couple hours. Funny story, I might’ve said “Watch and find out that you’re both related!”–Jon never forgave me for jinxing him. Anyways, after discovering his new relative, he went on to assume that everyone from the Philippines is somehow his cousin, to the point where he introduced me to his own friends as his cousin.

The second was when I was at Montreal for a Filipino related event (which was actually quite fun!) and there I found out my friend is my third or fourth cousin. Again, emphasis on ‘cousin’. That was when it hit me that anyone within my indigenous Filipino community may potentially be my relative and since then, I understood Jon’s reasoning and am now doing the same thing. The only difference is that no one jinxed anything.

Anyways, since moving to Melbourne, I realize that I have made the correct decision in assuming that anyone from the same region in the Philippines as my mother is some how my relative. This is mainly because one night, I was Skyping with my mother and she informed me that her old high school teacher is living in Sydney and pretty much ordered me to look for him, via Facebook, tell him about myself and pretty much everything my mother told me. I did just that, and later discovering that my mother’s high school teacher happens to be a cousin-uncle of mine. Mostly because his great uncle married my great grandmother, which makes us related by marriage.

Funny how that works, eh?

After that little discovery, he allowed me to call him uncle, and told me of several people living in Melbourne who are also from the same community. This is how I met another distant cousin of mine–a deacon (priest-in-training) working at a Mission to help sailors. He introduced me to everyone there as his cousin, and since then, I did pretty much the same thing.

I now believe more than ever that I made the right choice in assuming such a thing. I also have a feeling that I will be meeting more relatives in the coming weeks.

And that’s just the little surprising stories of discovering (not so) long lost relatives from my mom’s side of the family. Dad’s side isn’t as dramatic, but still on the globally spread side of things.

I remember I sent a Facebook message and a friend request to my cousin about a year ago, and though he did see the friend request, he strangely just saw the message very recently–as in just a couple days ago. The great thing is that although it’s only just recently, we’ve been chit chatting ever since, and it’s over all quite nice to reconnect with family (well, family you know for sure is related to you). I learned some impressive things about him, such as currently in another part of Canada, and training for the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, and I also found out some other interesting things such as the fact that our other Aunt and Uncle are currently on a trip to visit Ireland, which led me to come to another conclusion.

My family, on both sides, are quite literally scattered all over the globe.

There are some in Asia, some in the States, different parts of Canada, some in Europe, etc. It really makes me wonder where everyone is every now and then. On the bright side, I at least have free accommodation whenever I happen to travel to places where I know I have family (at least the ones I know about).

Nup, Nu-uh, Nah, Nope, I Dun Wanna

In the wake of the mass murder in the Santa Barbara community, I find myself thankful that I was raised to be firm when saying ‘no’ all the while being taught to be thick skinned afterwards. When I found out what happened, I could’ve sworn I felt my blood freeze at the disturbing revelation that Elliot Rodger’s main contempt is for two groups: women and the men they chose. It’s a horrifying thought that makes me stop and wonder about the world that we live in today. Granted, Elliot Rodger was undergoing therapy, but it was also his contempt for the women who rejected him that really got me thinking.

In comparison to what life was like in a time even as recent as the 50s, women made a lot of progress in terms of their own equal rights. We obtained the right to vote, and better yet, we came to the conclusion that we are equal to men in any and every aspect. And relating to the topic at hand, we also learned to have more pride in ourselves, and that we’re not on this earth to be used as brood mares, housewives, or to be subjected to social norms that were traditionally patriarchal. In Western nations, this mindset became a way of life, yet there is still a subtle undertone in all aspects of society that tells women that they should always be subject to traditional social norms.

One way? For all you ladies out there, have you ever had the experience of being a bitch for rejecting someone or a bitch for going out with someone you don’t really like but was pressured to go out with them? Yep, that is exactly one way of being pressured to continue on with these social norms with an archaic undertone. This experience sucks, doesn’t it? Because no matter your reasoning, you would be a bitch either way. In my own personal opinion, rejection is usually the way to go if you’re not interested, because it can be considered the lesser of the two evils (rejection or misdirection) in the long run (for me, personally, I would be bolting in the opposite direction after delivering what I hope would be a rejection that wouldn’t do too much emotional damage).

However, it’s what happens to the person doing the rejecting that would ignite the drama. Typically, when a man is rejects a woman, they generally don’t receive the same backlash from others if a woman rejects a man. I realize that this doesn’t happen all the time, but the fact remains that it does happen. If a great deal of emotional damage is done, the woman would be blamed for it, being told “Why didn’t you just say ‘yes’?”, or “You could’ve stopped this from happening if you said yes in the first place”. In the extreme case of the Santa Barbara massacre, I am also very sure that the same things are being said about the women that Elliot Rodger was interested in.

It’s the blame that women will receive if they say ‘no’ that scares us into allowing ourselves to succumb to the pressures of social norms. Things like how we’re supposed to have a man in our lives, even though we’re trying to build up our own way of doing things. If a women is brave enough to say ‘no’, then they will be antagonized to some extent. If she succumbs to pressures, she will be antagonized for leading someone on. Granted, I know that a lot of women are thick skinned and can handle themselves just fine after rejecting someone, but the fact remains that there is still that underlying pressure, and that’s what bothers me.

In a society where equality is emphasized every where, it’s bothersome that there is still a notion that I believe to be morally ok for things like the medieval era which emphasizes the contrary. Tragedies like the Santa Barbara Massacre and even the kidnapped Nigerian girls reminds me that these ancient beliefs are still very well alive today.

Like the belief in gender equality, the belief in patriarchal dominance still very much exists, but in a much more subtle manner.

Pride in Indigenous Heritage

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To give all you peoples out there some necessary background information, I am an Igorot on my mother’s side of the family. To give a brief description of who Igorots are, we are a tribe of indigenous people living in the Cordillera Mountainous regions of the Northern Philippines. Like other aboriginal people all over the world, we have been subjected to quite a lot of discrimination based on our ethnic background–to the point where we have been described as monkeys with tails, that we’re not Filipino and suffered a lot of discrimination to the point where Igorots of younger generations are doing their best to disassociate themselves from their cultural heritage. 

When I heard that Carlos P. Romulo, a diplomat, statesman, journalist and soldier from the Philippines, had stated that Igorots are by no means considered Filipino. I couldn’t help but wonder what made him think of such a thing. It turns out that he’s been trying to disassociate himself with the indigenous mountain people of the north; that he considers us to be wild, primitive and black. At first, I was very offended. Granted, being half, I wasn’t born with the bronzed skin that my mother has, but I was offended for my mother.

I was offended for a good long while, before I got thinking. Romulo described us as being on par with that of the Aboriginals in North America. Saying that “the Igorot has a better claim to the Philippines than we–as the American Indian has prior claims to America” (pg. 59 Mother America, Romulo, Carlos P). Granted, it still didn’t make up for the offence I felt when he proceeded to describe us as primitive. I would like to counter this statement by saying that because Romulo claimed that we have claim to the Philippines as well, that makes us every bit Filipino as the rest living in the country or descended from those who emigrated from the Philippines. My mother’s family was born, bred and raised there until they moved to Canada nearly two decades ago. In the eyes of international law, my mother and her family is Filipino. She is born on Philippine soil and has an indigenous Filipino cultural heritage.

If anyone, however, continues to disagree, then I would like to point out the original use of the term “Filipino” by the Spanish occupation. In fact, the term “Indios” was used to describe the native islanders living on the Philippine soil when Spaniards first started colonizing the Philippines. The Spaniards in fact are the original “Filipinos”, the foreigners who colonized the nation for centuries, and it wasn’t until during the late 1800s and early 1900s did the native islanders began to call themselves Filipinos when they were taking up arms against Spanish rule. Prior to that time, Filipinos are Spaniards living on the Philippine Islands, some mestizas and mestizos, are considered to be Filipino, but never the native islanders. They are people who bow to a sovereign rule, a monarch living an ocean away.

But because we Igorots never submitted to this rule, we were not considered “Filipino” by the Spaniards, and by that definition, I’m ok with it. Why? Because knowing what happened in history, and knowing what the original usage of the term is made me proud. It made me proud because we resisted. We fought back, and we fought like the warriors we are. We resisted assimilation, we resisted colonial rule, we resisted the attempted destruction of our homes in the mountains, we resisted the exploitation of our gold and our natural resources for so long that the Spaniards eventually stopped wasting their efforts in trying to impose their rule. And for that, I am proud to call myself an Igorot, or to get even more specific, a Kankana-ey of the Applai tribe with blood ties to the municipality of Sagada, never mind a Filipino. 

Let the others call us what they want. They can discriminate, they can insult, they can remain ignorant, but we carry the pride in the fact that we resisted and that our culture is still alive today and still thriving not only in the Philippines but all over the globe. This is not something that can be easily said as there are some cultures that were very nearly lost throughout the course of history and was sped up by means of colonialism.

In fact, I believe that anyone with indigenous background will be proud of their heritage. I believe that they are the living proof that colonial rule and missionaries never truly succeeded in assimilating any aboriginal of any nation, and that cultural heritage will be very difficult to make disappear forever. They’ve suffered, they’ve bled, but they survived, and they did their very best to resist any invading force, and their descendants are living proof.

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The main reason why I wrote this blog is because as I was watching a clip of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting an Australian Aboriginal Reserve in Uluru, I recalled a memory of an encounter back home in Canada. The performing group that I am a member of, Matineb (a group dedicated to learning and performing traditional Igorot dances) was at a fundraiser for Typhoon Hai-Yan and I met another Filipino there. When I told her who I was with, she was very surprised. When she saw the rest of Matineb, she became even more surprised and I can only guess that even though she wasn’t expecting tails coming from our backsides, she was expecting that we act like the wild, primitive natives we are stereotyped to be. I couldn’t help but shake my head at her presumption.