Sunday, September 9, 2007

Malu Fernandez Got It From PDI and Conrad de Quiros that OFWs are "Toilet Bowl Cleaners of the World"

SOME KINDS of political correctness are actually, well, correct. So I am glad that it has become politically incorrect to be insulting the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). For which Malu Fernandez and the Manila Standard are now reaping a whirlwind of disgust, boycott threats and an ongoing castigation, mainly by bloggers and other online Filipinos.

But how quickly we forget that it wasn't these "low-class" writers and newspapers that started and once engaged in writing that is insulting and disdainful towards OFWs. No, it was the biggest newspapers like the Philippine Daily Inquirer and its "nationalistic" pundits, the worse being CONRADO DE QUIROS who used to make hundreds of thousands of copies of screeds and epithets against OFWs of the most sophisticated and malicious kind.

For example, in a series of columns having supposedly to do with Sense of Country, Conrad de Quiros popularized the insult among journalists and other elitists that OFWs are "TOILET BOWL CLEANERS OF THE WORLD" -- even suggesting that we scrap our colleges and universities if that was all we were training our youth for. I can't seem to find the original columns of his at the Inquirer Website anymore (I wonder why?) but fortunately the Asian Journal Online still has him admitting and defending those insults to OFWs.
Conrad de Quiros: "I remember again the irate letter-writer who demanded to know what I had against caregivers and maids-I had asked what we were doing turning ourselves into the toilet-bowl cleaners of the world-when both did completely respectable work. My answer then, and now, is that I have nothing against them, just as I have nothing against janitors and forklift operators. What I have against is the attitude that we can only exist in survival mode and that we can't be better. What I have against is an educational system that imagines its role in life to be to cater to the export labor market by producing standard entrants to it. "
If anyone has the original column, I would like to republish it in its entirety here, but as I said it can't seem to be found at PDI's website anymore.

He was joined in this once gleeful enterprise of vituperation against OFWs by people in such "great" and "high class" schools as the Ateneo, where some folks called that infamous DeQuirosian phrase "eloquent".

Back then (only two years ago) pretty much only Philippine Commentary and Wretchard of the Belmont Club stood up for OFWs, (as well as many irate letter writers and lowly chat room participants) whom the Inquirer gave short shrift by having de Quiros himself and the "readers advocate" Raul Palabrica rebut them. Manuel L. Quezon III defended his newspaper but a frequent Commenter of his, C.V. Jugo had this to say:
I agree with footvoter’s take on OFW’s above (as well as with a similar point made by Dodong a few posts back). Together with DJB, i take offense to De Quiros’ characterizating us as ‘toilet bowl cleaners of the world’, not so much for the designation itself but for the elitist insinuation that this kind of thing is somehow beneath one’s dignity.
I am just glad to see how much things have changed.

I salute efforts of folks like Nick of who is trying to start a boycott of the Manila Standard Today and its dequirosian acolyte, Malu Fernandez.

The C at has some suggested tactics.

Reyna Elena has started an OFW Logo and Slogan Design Contest.

Filipino OFWs in Qatar are mighty incensed.

Pinoy Advertizzing TsisMax ccarries some of the colorful language being directed at Malu and her supporters (all half dozen of them)

Unedited Mara has a a nice, uhmm picture of the fierce and fabulous Malu Fernandez, but it's nothing compared to this one from the Pedestrian Observer.

The Jester-in-Exile doesn't find any of this to be very funny and describes the online seige.

The Rube Tube likens Malu's actions to going to America and making fun of the soldiers fighting in Iraq, which of course is a deviant behavior still practiced by PDI and de Quiros, except in regards to Philippine soldiers and Mindanao.

Coffee with Amee describes Pinoy bloggers on the issue, but pities Malu Fernandez for her deep seated insecurities.

Other significant entries lately have come from:

Far From Neutral Notions (" statute of limitations on outrage")

Touched by an Angel wants to combat the bigotry and condescension of the what AWB Holdings calls the "abonimable snub woman".

These efforts are laudable, but I think we and the OFWs have already won the argument, both morally and politically. For even "nationalists" -- who are mostly the mental crustaceans of a failed ruling class--now acknowledge, perhaps with not enough gratitude but certainly with enough false if grudging praises--that the OFWs really are the rising tide that is lifting all boats, even that of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Conrad de Quiros and PDI, like Renato Constantino and the CPP NPA all these decades have had an entirely mistaken and self-serving view of nationalism, which Overseas Filipino Workers, as the first global citizens of One World are teaching them is not the greatest possible virtue there is.

Here is a nice logo from Proudly Pinoy dot org.

The OFW has discovered virtues greater than nationalism!


Karl M. Garcia said...

This is still about the irate reader,I don't know which article came first:

First posted 00:28am (Mla time) Oct 31, 2005
By Conrado de Quiros
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A14 of the October 31, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

THERE'S SOMEBODY WORTH REMEMBERING as we approach Nov. 2, the day of the dead. If he's not dead yet, he is at least near to expiring. His name is Juan de la Cruz. The signs of his passing, or near-passing, are everywhere in evidence.

I remember again the late great Nick Joaquin writing something called "A heritage of smallness." In the essay, Joaquin lamented the fact that we Filipinos, unlike our counterparts in the West, lacked a capacity for epic ambition or heroic vision. We thought small-time. "Society for the Filipino is a small rowboat: the barangay. Geography for the Filipino is a small locality: the barrio. History for the Filipino is a small vague saying: matanda pa kay mahoma; noong peacetime. Enterprise for the Filipino is a small stall: the sari-sari store. Industry and production for the Filipino are the small immediate searchings of each day: isang kahig, isang tuka. And commerce for the Filipino is the smallest degree of retail: the tingi."

The problem wasn't just in the lack of grandness of our surroundings, it was in the lack of aspiration of our spirit.

Yet when Joaquin wrote that, (in the late 1960s, I think) the Philippines wasn't that badly off. A decade earlier, the country stood next only to Japan in economic potential, having built a flourishing manufacturing sector during the previous decade with import-substitution. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's father, Diosdado Macapagal, would ruin it with the 1960s' version of globalization-decontrol; and Ferdinand Marcos, who succeeded him, would complete the ruination.

More than material progress, the country had pride then. I remember Raul Roco telling me that, in the 1950s, he attended a youth conference in Europe, and everyone was asking him about the Philippines. Among the Asians, the Filipino seemed to be given pride of place, a fact shown by the prominent roles the Filipino delegates were given in the conference. Filipinos then were known to be cosmopolitan, sophisticated and modern in outlook where other Asians were deemed provincial, isolationist, and deeply conservative. Those were the days, Roco recalled, when you could truly hold your head high and be proud to be Filipino.

It is no small irony that the one person who brought all this crashing to the ground was the same one who said, "This country will be great again." That was Marcos, and he said that in his inaugural address when he became president for the fist time in 1966, a stirring speech that became a staple in oratorical contests. Although I vaguely remember at the time some debate about what Marcos meant. Was he suggesting that we had been great once but had fallen into decline for some time? When were we ever great and when did we fall into a stupor? The consensus though was that Marcos was referring to the "golden age" of Rizal et al. when he spoke of greatness, which was what we had presumably lost over the decades and which he proposed to resurrect. He did nothing of the kind. A couple of decades of his rule, 14 years of them dictatorial, the country not only did not become great again, it became thoroughly wretched.

How widely the gap yawns between then and now. Well, a friend of mine put it this way: In the 1960s, rich Filipinos had "amahs" or Chinese maids. Today, ordinary Chinese have chimays or Filipino maids. You know there's something wrong somewhere when the young man who topped the national medical board exam prefers to work in New York as a nurse. Indeed, you know there's something wrong somewhere when you read that 6,000 Filipino doctors are going back to school to study nursing to work abroad. Then, there were no heights to which we would soar, today there are no lows to which we would stoop.

I remember that several irate readers, particularly from abroad, wrote me at one point to complain about why I was denigrating nurses and maids. That was in reaction to several columns where I asked why our national ambition had narrowed down to wanting to become the "toilet bowl cleaners of the world." What's wrong with being a maid, a nurse, or for that matter, a toilet bowl cleaner, they asked. Those were respectable jobs, better than stealing. I agree: Those are respectable jobs, and better than being a fake president and stealing. So are being a janitor, a postal clerk, a watch-your-car boy: Those are respectable jobs and better than prostituting, the literal and congressional variety.

I am not denigrating those jobs. What I am denigrating with absolute ferocity is why that should become the sum of our national goal. Have we gotten so miserable we are content to stop being doctors and dream only of earning dollars by being nurses? Have we gotten so desperate we have stopped dreaming of becoming novelists and teachers and statesmen and want only to become servants, lackeys of America, and the doormat of the world?

It gets worse. Then we said we could not eat pride when forced to succumb to coercions like the postwar "parity rights." Today, we say we cannot eat sovereignty, which was what Richard Gordon said when he defended the US bases to the death, only to demand to reap the fruits of sovereignty after Subic Base was converted to the SBMA. Today, we say we cannot eat honesty, which was what everyone at least thought, if not said, when GMA vowed she would not run again, and did. Indeed, today, we say we cannot eat truth and integrity and democracy, which was what that Filipino in America said when he wrote: "GMA cheated in the elections, so what?"

No wonder this country is suffering from kwashiorkor, characterized in our case by the bloating of the brain rather than the belly. We cannot eat edible things.

When we go to the cemeteries today, we may want to pause to recall the short and unhappy life of Juan de la Cruz.

DJB Rizalist said...

You are a godsend to our suffering and long-abused countrymen, Karl. Thanks for that!

Karl M. Garcia said...

It was from several irate readers, and I also can't find the original, so I have to google it and failed to acknowledge the source:


Karl M. Garcia said...

You are welcome,djb!Glad I could help!

DJB Rizalist said...

People should not underestimate the power of these big newspapers and their pundits. They have miseducated millions with their "unbalanced news and clueless views".

But it's a real test for bloggers. Now let's see what bravehearts and brilliant minds they really are!

john marzan said...

dean, ang tagal tagal na ng malu issue, pero ngayon ka lang nagsalita? and only because you want to slam de quiros?

siguro related rin itong article ni de quiros

sa pagkaka-intindi ko, he's disappointed to see our doctors and teachers going abroad to become nurses and maids there. that they have to do that shows the lack of job opportunities in this country other than the call center business.

this doesn't even compare to the stuff malu wrote.

DJB Rizalist said...

It's a test of the bloggers, to see if they can take one someone their own size or bigger. After all, Malu was just fish in a barrel. And the manila standard is not PDI.

By the way, there is more to this that Malu Fernandez and the OFWs. After all PDI and de Quiros are still shooting off their mouths on all sorts of things, like Osama bin Laden, like the Abu Sayyaf and the CPP NPA.

How does that stack up with our new found sensibilities?

DJB Rizalist said...

No fair John!

What do you mean "ngayon lang ako nagsalita"? Eh, Kayo nga ang walang mga pinasasasabi two years ago when PDI published that crap

cathy said...

Thanks for the link but I should give credit to Manny Viloria. It was his suggestion.

I've got the blog condemning Conrado de Quiroz

That was way back in 2004.

john marzan said...

No fair John!

What do you mean "ngayon lang ako nagsalita"? Eh, Kayo nga ang walang mga pinasasasabi two years ago when PDI published that crap

ngayon ka lang nagsalita re malu and her insults on the poor working filipinos, and only because you want to slam de quiros.

before that, tahimik ka lang even though i'm sure you are very aware of ms fernandez's statements. so i assumed that you're not that offended with malu or MST.

and the de quiros articles were written three years ago pa. he had a valid point, but the "toilet comment" should have been left.

I can't seem to find the original columns of his at the Inquirer Website anymore (I wonder why?)

because the online archive goes back to July 9, 2004 only?

Karl M. Garcia said...

I have read all articles,inclusng Cath's and John's.

The 2004 article shows Mr. De Quiroz confusing a Doctor turned nurse to a caregiver.Kahit tayo naman siguro pag nagsalita ang isang batikang commentarista ng medyo bomalabs magtataka naman siguro tayo.

Pero on the other hand, madami tayong toilet cleaners na literal,di ba sa middle east,sa HK at mga lugar na may DH , at isali na din natin ang Caregivers na nagtratrabaho sa nursing homes and some private residences.Na kasali sa job description nila,yun.
Siguro highlighting it created the controversy.

It seems that for many occasions Mr. De Quiros seems to remember those irate readers,based from the articles above.

We have discussed this in length at MLQ3's,in several successive blogs even if was not the topic.

it is a matter of dignity,and some of them even don't want the tag bagong bayani.

I don't know how your row with PDI started,and I don't want to find out,but I know you used to contribute to the paper while you were in the US.

But, their views is not balanced so seems,on almost all occassions only the views of Bhel Cunanan differs from the other writers.
I know that it's the news that is supposed to be balanced,but I noticed the inbalance in the views.

dannyarao said...

I read your post with great interest. Can't say that I totally agree with your analysis, but I just wish to thank you for visiting my blog Rising Sun and for posting a comment there. In any case I replied to it already. Thank you for your attention.

DJB Rizalist said...

I have no "personal row" with PDI or its writers. None.

My problem with them is absolutely and purely ideological and political.

They are the source of the most dangerous and misguided ideas around. These ideas of theirs are far, far more influential than anyone suspects.

They are the Mother of Memes used by the Left and its allies, and their editorial policy has been consistently anti-American and anti-Western, in direct contradiction of the proven stand of the vast majority of the Filpino people.

How can my row with PDI be personal when I am traveling with such great company?

Jego said...

...the OFWs really are the rising tide that is lifting all boats, even that of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Now if only we can get them to vote. I suppose they have been stricken with the political apathy that has befallen our old middle class since they have effectively taken over as our new middle class and probably inherited the old one's mindset.

Jego said...

Oh, and DJB, what's the deal with the beard? It's... bin-Ladenesque. :-D

lcnatabio said...


it's you ultra-rightist, neo-conservative, uncle-sam-kissing pundit that's spewing crap!

de quiros has stated his point eloquently and well.

he has nothing against maids, caregivers or janitors; it is that collectively as a people we have degenerated and are becoming incapable of anything near greatness, content to be just the "doormat of the world", exported as serfs of the Arabs vulnerable to being abused, raped, and murdered because our rotten politicians and system have failed us big time.

see de quiros' piece from a higher vantage point mr. bocobo and you'll be surprised he is not entirely anti-globalist us you would want to picture him to be!

lcnatabio said...

shoving globalization down our throats, as weak as we are, is like shoving an ill-trained, under-fed boxer in the ring to face Mike Tyson during his prime.

DJB Rizalist said...

A writer is defined almost purely by his writings. We shall continue to view Mr. de Quiros and others like him from a high vantage point.

As a major pundit writing for a big newspaper, they are worthy of our humble contemplations, being mere bloggers.

He has said many things about for example Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein which are equally revealing of their stand on impt issues, not just choice of cologne or occupation.

But you may defend him as you wish, though it probably means you will one day come to admire malu fernandez also.

Boy Liempo said...

Hmmm... Someone who defends Conrado de Quiros will someday come to admire Malu Fernandez as well?

Wow, anlayo ng hugot. Walang konek. Labo ng theory mo, bro :-(

lcnatabio said...


you said:

As a major pundit writing for a big newspaper, they are worthy of our humble contemplations, being mere bloggers.

but aren't you also a columnist of PDI?


He has said many things about for example Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein which are equally revealing of their stand on impt issues, not just choice of cologne or occupation.


obviously, he's no Bush lover.

or Rumsfield's.

he's a nationalist and a humanist as opposed perhaps to your being a globalist (in the American mold) and a Social Darwinist?


But you may defend him as you wish, though it probably means you will one day come to admire malu fernandez also.


hahaha, malu fernandez and de quiros are, in sharon cuneta's metaphor, "langis at tubig"

i like de quiros, i despise malu fernandez.

blackshama said...

Conrad de Quiros falls into some idiotic non sequiturs many times!

As for Malu Fernandez her lack of sensitivity is her broadsheet funeral but other people in media also have intolerant views, many are plain prejudices with cultural and ethnic differences. Some are totally prejudiced against gays! Have I heard or read about bloggers who protest against these?

As for OFW and their experiences, have you taken some time to chat with them on board or in the airport waiting lounge.

Academic OFWs like me are in the same boat of sorts and that's why I can relate to the OFW experience. The major diff is that we have PhDs but we clean toilets too. We get discriminated too, believe me! But being more empowered of sorts (due to the benefits of a little education), we don't take this discrimination sitting down. And I am glad that OFWs are no longer taking it sitting down.

Only the elite who have no inkling of how it is to "mangibang bayan" with a work and not a tourist visa can easily succumb to generalizations about Pinoy OFWs.

grd23 said...

It is not just about OFWs (any kind of OFW for that matter). It is about some groups in our society with "elitist" ideals who think they have the right to put down or hail whomever they see fit. Now would we want to be "bullied" by such people?


Tiki said...

To anyone interested, you'll find some statistical info about OFWs here:

For example, p. 20 of the 2006 stats show the percentages of OFWs who work in households, as caregivers, etc.

Zann Paolo L. said...

"their editorial policy has been consistently anti-American and anti-Western, in direct contradiction of the proven stand of the vast majority of the Filpino people"

how do you know this "proven stand of the of the vast majority of the FIlipino people" ?

I think, going by all the history of the 3rd world economies of the world, many would agree that being "Anti-American" means being patriotic. The USA is a big factor why there are so many underdeveloped nations today. Pepe Diokno, Jovito Salonga, Lorenzo Tanada were ALL feircely Anti-American... I think that's pretty good company right there.