I experienced first hand the stigma the Filipino people have brought upon Chinese nationals during a domestic flight — Blogger Noel Sarifa

A Pinoy blogger has shared his first-hand experience the stigma Filipinos have brought upon Chinese nationals during a domestic flight.

Blogger Noel Sarifa, a staunch Duterte supporter, narrated his personal experience with a fellow Chinese passenger, not one but two who happened to be his seatmates in a domestic flight. Instead of thinking about his personal safety because the news of the coronavirus outbreak was just announced on TV, Sarifa said he was glad, because it feels like in these time of epidemic, the Chinese people need a friend. He felt safe because both of them wore a mask.

I experienced first hand the stigma the Filipino people have brought upon Chinese nationals. Pasakay ako ng plane and my seat number is 5B so nasa gitna yong seat ko, pagdating ko sa tapat ng upaan, I saw a Chinese guy already seating on seat 5C the aisle seat, nakayuko sya. ( I can tell base on the print on his hand bag that he is Chinese, akala ko mababahala ako kasi kakaputok lang ng balita na may NCoV na sa Pilipinas, but instead natuwa ako, I feel like in these time of epidemic they need a friend. Nakamask naman ako, and nakamask sya so I have nothing to worry.

Sarifa described the encounter “awkward” because the Chinese felt embarrassed and very apologetic. Shortly, the Chinese passenger stood up, bowed his head like he had committed a huge sin and said sorry again and again to Sarifa. Sarifa recalled telling the Chinese passenger it was ok and smiled. He guessed the Chinese passenger wasn’t aware what was going on because he kept his head bowed and both wore a mask. As soon as they settled in to their respective seats, the Chinese passenger tried mightily to isolate himself from him – feet together. hands on his lap and his head bowed. Sarifa wanted to tell the fellow passenger it was ok and he was not to judge him or anything but he did not know if he interpreted his body language correctly so he hesitated.

I put my bag sa over head bin and pagkatapos nag-excuse ako, para umupo sa tabi nya. Tumingin sa sya akin na parang nahihiya and immediately says sorry. Tumayo sya agad and he bow down as if ang laki ng kasalanan nya and he says sorry again. I said it’s ok with a smile, but I guess he can’t tell kasi nakayuko pa din sya and naka mask kaming dalawa. I seated beside him and when he sat down, he tries to isolate himself. Nakadikit ang paa nya at yong kamay nya nakapatong sa lap nya and nakayuko. Gusto kung sabihin na, it’s ok I don’t judge you or anything pero I don’t know If I interpreted his actions properly so I was hesitant.

When the passenger on the window seat arrived, another Chinese guy, he did the same. Bowed his head in front of Sarifa, said sorry and maintained that head bowed position for a few seconds. He felt pity and wanted to give the guy a hug, to tell him it was ok. Sarifa said he would normally not stand up, just adjust the leg and foot to let the passenger on window seat pass but this time, he stood up to give way to the fellow passenger. The flight proceeded without an incident as the three, respected each other’s privacy by making use of the arm rest as the barrier between them, particularly the Chinese passenger on the window seat. Sarifa said he just knew that there was an armrest but did not bother to use his armrest so as not to make the Chinese passenger on his right feel uneasy. The three tried with all their might to avoid making skin contact either through their legs or arms.

When the guy on the window seat arrived, he did the same thing he immediately stand up and bow down, says sorry and nakayuko lang. Naawa ako nagusto ko syang yakapin and tell him everything is ok. I stand up as well and give the guy on the window seat a way, but usually hindi ko ginagawa yun inadjust ko lang ang paa ko para makapasok sa inner seat ung katabi ko, but with the Chinese guy’s gesture, napatayo na din ako. Umupo kaming tatlo and the guy on the window seat binaba nya yong arm rest, seems pabagsak putting a barrier between us. Saka ko lang nakita may arm rest pala, ung ibang plane kasi wala. I did not bother na ibaba ung arm rest sa right side ko where the Chinese guy is seating para hindi sya lalong ma-awkward, I let him decide if he wants to pull it down but then nung umupo na sya, umupo syang nakadikit ang mga hita, ang kamay sa lap nya and nakayuko. I wanted sana na magchitchat to make him feel as ease kaso baka may pinagdadaanan yong tao at mali interpretation ko, so nagbuntong hininga ako and pinikit ang mga mata.

Sarifa said he was sleepy that he slept throughout the flight and woke up only when the plane captain announced their arrival. According to him, he was stunned to see that the Chinese passenger beside him managed to maintain his position throughout the one-hour flight. He reckoned that if he was in his shoes, he would complain of fatigue. Sarifa said he pitied the Chinese passenger so much, he never noticed tears welled up in his eyes. When it was time to disembark, Sarifa said the Chinese passenger rushed to the exit door ahead of everyone, walked quickly without even looking back.

Sa sobrang antok nakatulog ako and nagising when the pilot announced our arrival, I was stunned cause he is still seating the same way as he does before ako pumikit, it is 1 hour travel, so kung ako nasa position nya mangangalay ako. Sobrang naawa ako sa kanya, di ko namalayan nangilid na yong luha sa mga mata ko. When everyone is departing the plane, nauna syang lumabas and I can see him rushing all the way to the exit, mabilis na naglalakad nakayuko at walang lingon-lingon.

Sarifa confessed he did not know what to make of his actions correctly but if he was a tourist, afraid and feels threatened in our country, he asked: What kind of host are we? Sarifa said the Chinese tourist should be enjoying his stay here. Sarifa remarked that Filipinos are not superior over the Chinese and vice versa. But Sarifa noted that the epidemic shows the true color of the Filipino – feels superior and judgmental especially against the Chinese which he said is very, very wrong.

Hindi ko alam if I interpreted his actions correctly but if he is a tourist and he is afraid and feels threatened in our country, anong klaseng host tayo? He should be enjoying his stay here. Filipino are not superior over Chinese and also Chinese are not superior to us, but the way this epidemic shows the true color of Filipino, masyadong mataas ang tingin natin sa sarili natin at mapanghusga sa kapwa, lalong lalo na sa mga Chinese. It is wrong, very very wrong.

#Stopdiscrimination
#StopBeingRacist

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Source: Noel Sarifa

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  1. Marian February 4, 2020

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