My friend, Elaine, sent me this news link from The Chronicle titled, Filipino table etiquette punished at local school. Lunch monitor tells student his eating habits are ‘disgusting.’
This incident happened in Montreal. The lunch program monitor punished a 7-year old Filipino boy because the monitor thinks that the boy’s eating habit is disgusting. The boy fills his spoon by pushing the food on his plate with his fork. This is the traditional way we Filipinos eat our food. I have been here in Canada for 16 years and I have never heard anybody say that this habit was disgusting. Or were people just being polite? I was surprised when I read this news.
The boy’s mother confronted the lunch program monitor after her son had been punished more than 10 times this year and the boy said that he didn’t want to eat anymore. The lunch monitor said, “If your son eats like a pig he has to go to another table because this is the way we do it and how we’re going to do it every time.” Now, come on, he thinks that eating with a spoon and fork at the same time is eating like a pig?
What’s equally shocking and brought the mother to tears is the principal’s reaction. He said to the mother, “Madame, you are in Canada. Here in Canada you should eat the way Canadians eat.” But isn’t this a free country? If it’s not against the law, can’t we eat the way we want to eat? The principal even added that he wants his students to eat intelligently at the table? So what does he mean by that? That the Filipino way of eating is dumb? Really. I find that response very childish.
Just the other day, I was explaining to my kids how we say and pronounce words differently in the Philippines. I told them that in the Philippines, their dad’s name is said Ron, the way they say Ron in the Harry Potter movies and not the same way they say it here in Canada. Eva is Ee-va here but Eh-va over there. My son Ryan said that’s dumb. No, Ryan, I said, it’s not dumb. It’s just different.
I hope the Montreal incident is just an isolated case. Because I’d hate it if my kids were subjected to a situation like that.
My children’s schools promote multiculturalism and they study about the different countries and cultures of the world. And I think that’s good. Knowledge about our diversities should help us tolerate each other’s differences. Right? Because, after all, Canada is a country of mixed cultures. And I thought that Canadians should have learned by now how to tolerate each other’s differences. But I guess not. I think we should educate each other about our differences. But will that cure people of their prejudices? I guess not again.