Is this a straight insult or a satire?

I don’t want to start a Philippines vs. Hong Hong thread. I just want opinions on the thread question.

A Hong Kong media man described the Philippines as a “Land of domestic helpers.” I can’t recall the rest of his monologue but it was definitely not a favorable recommendation. You can imagine Philippine reaction when they read about this. But the subsequent response from both the Hong Kong media and the Filipino-Chinese community surprised me. They said it was another case of touchy Filipinos beating the war path, pushed on by the notorious “Pinoy Pride.” They said it was “merely” a “satire” about the Philippines. Sophomoric local writers even wrote columns in the dailies, defining “satire” in English, meaning to demonstrate our lack of understanding of the word.

I reacted to this in a funny way because I know for a fact that the Philippines, poor and backward as it is, is perhaps the best English-speaking country in Asia, bar none. I found the claim that we failed to see the humor or anything constructive behind the supposed satire even more insulting.

What say you?

Maybe this is just a “Failure to communicate” thing. This is purely anecdotal but I used to have a Japanese boss and he absolutely could NOT grasp the concept of sarcasm.

It could be raining cats and dogs outside and I could say something to the effect of “Gee, what lovely weather we’re having.” and he would just look at me like I’ve lost my f’n mind.

The only reason why I share this is because right here on this board, someone started a thread asking “Do Asians not get sarcasm?” (or something to that effect.) He went on to share experiences similar to mine.

Anyway, the thread I’m referring to is several years old but my vague recollection of it was Asians and westerners have very different ideas about what sarcasm is.

Regarding that Japanese story, I saw it more as a case of limited mastery of the language. It was not anything like an Englishman’s rib wherein you “bask for many days in mistaken compliment before realizing you’ve been mortally wounded” sort of thing.

My wife is from the Philippines and she doesn’t get sarcasm. One day she asked me a question with a very obvious “yes” answer, so I said,“is the pope a catholic”? She relied, “Of course he’s a Catholic, why are you asking”.

sarcasm as used in English requires a certain mastery of the language, culture, contextual clues and intonation. similar to some jokes, you need to have a certain contextual background before you’ll be able to understand them. just because a person doesn’t laugh at your jokes, it doesn’t mean they don’t understand humour.
isn’t satire just an insult veiled as a joke?

Straight insult. In case you didn’t know, Hong Kong is pissed about the PI government’s refusal to apologize for the way it handled a terrorist incident in the PI which was perpetrated against a busload of Hong Kong residents.

I am not Filipino (not even close), I get sarcasm, and I think that is pretty damn racist comment against Filipinos.

Frankly, in the comment itself, as described in the OP, I don’t see any hint of sarcasm or satire. Maybe, in the context, it was possible to see that the speaker was being sarcastic/satirical at the expense of bigots who think that the Philippines is a “land of domestic helpers,” thus implying that, in fact, this is a completely unfair description, but the phrase itself is pure offensiveness.

That too.

So does satire/sarcasm exist in Asiatic languages or not?

Could you imagine what would happen if an American newspaper used that term to describe Africa, Mexico, or Korea? The Politically Correct Police would hit the roof!

Of course it does. I speak three Filipino dialects and all three are full of them.

It came before the botched rescue attempt. A-holism isn’t born overnight.

the_diego, could we have a link for some context? anything from a major newspaper or even a blog from a journalist of a major newspaper. a brief google only turned up personal blogs and such, which is definitely not indicative of the Hong Kong media nor the Filipino-Chinese community.

why not? neither satire nor sarcasm is tied to languages. it’s like asking whether a language has humour.

'twas in 2009, before the hostage-taking. It was about the Spratlys. This one continues with the ‘satirical’ argument. :rolleyes:

As someone who speaks zero Asiatic languages, I affirm that my question was valid.

I suppose some people also believe the Swiss have no sense of humor.

Based on the excerpt, I definitely can see how it’s supposed to be humorous. The statements about the other cultures are all just as ridiculous. For example, it’s okay for Japan to take over an island because people like Hello Kitty? There’s just no way that is supposed to be taken seriously.

The idea that the Philippines is claiming islands in order to have a larger market for their domestic help is just as ridiculous. And that is the context in which the country is called a nation of domestic help.

It may be offensive satire (as the implied statement behind it can be considered offensive), but it is clearly satire.

That’s fine. But “proper” satire is intended to nudge towards a positive change. Well, the Japanese don’t see Hello Kitty as something that needs to be re-engineered. And Filipinos, for the most part, don’t see anything wrong with their marginalized sector seeking employment outside.