Joseph Dent Explains the Joke

We at Indolent Indio are not fond of explaining jokes, on the principle that if you have to explain, or even give some sort of cue that you’re joking, it isn’t funny.

But the amount of vitriol being sprayed around by people who were genuinely offended by Chip Tsao’s article perhaps merits this explanation from mystery commenter josephdent, pro-Chinese apologist and agent provocateur for the godless communists.

He writes:

My fellow Pinoys, Mr. Chip Tsao is defending Filipinos and Filipino maids and is actually ridiculing these so-called “Chinese patriots”.

When Tessie Tomas pretends to be a rich matrona in “Abangan ang Susunod na Kabanata” and then says outrageous, ridiculous mata pobre things, Tessie Tomas is not really mata pobre, instead, she is exposing the mata pobre of the Filipino upper class. That is how this article works as well: satire. In the article, Mr. Tsao is pretending to be one of these Chinese patriots. He then proceeds to say outrageous, over-the-top, racist statements to show them that the viewpoints of his fellow Chinese citizens are in fact outrageous, over-the-top and racist!

In the first paragraph, he exposes the hypocrisy of the Chinese government when they turn a blind eye on Russia and Japan’s violations (who are big nations), but suddenly become a bully when it comes to the Philippines.

He then exposes what you guys are angry about: that some of his fellow Chinese citizens in fact look down on the Philippines as a “nation of servants”, and that’s why the government is not afraid to bully us. (note Mr. Tsao does not believe we are a nation of servants, he is still playing the part of the proud Chinese patriot)

Now there really is no Louisa. You guys got so angry about how he treated his domestic helper, but she doesn’t really exist. Again, this is still part of the act. When he mentions Louisa has a degree in International Politics and then shows her a map, he is exposing how ridiculous the Chinese are because Mr. Tsao knows that according to the map, the Spratly Islands are in fact close(r) to the the Philippines and according to International Politics, we do in fact have a right to lay a claim on it.

In the next paragraph, Mr. Tsao is actually defending the dignity of Filipino maids. He is condemning his fellow Chinese citizens for their lack of respect and appreciation for their maids who work long hours for them, and showing them what hypocrites they are for hating on the Philippines when in fact they rely so heavily on these upstanding Filipino citizens to keep their households running smoothly.

Then he actually points out that the Chinese are wrong to belittle Philippines given the fact that we have good ties with the USA. Finally, he ridicules the propaganda of his own government back in eh day.

So you see, everything he said here, what he really meant is the opposite. He’s just acting the part of the “racist Chinese patriot”. He is exposing how offensive and ridiculous his fellow citizens and his government are, and the fact that we got so angry proves his point: that how his fellow citizens and his government are behaving is very shameful.

Let’s not throw abuses at Mr. Tsao. He is on our side.



  1. He should write things straight to the point. What an asshole.. dami pang segwey.. eh may saltik pala talaga ulo niyan e!

  2. I have read the article, it was a surprise actually. After reading it I was in a state of denial, “we are not a nation of serverants”, I even felt anger. Man…this writer is good. To be honest, I realy know nothing about political satire or writing techniques. All i know is that, whatever this writer wanted to convey it was not understood by the readers or atleast those who claim to be patriotic and love our contry so much. Maybe that’s the reason i did not attempt to flame him on countless blogs now open for comments. Maybe because I am not that confident to say that I truly understand what he(Mr. Chip) was trying to say.

  3. Good day. I can see the point you want to show. But we have to consider that this is an editorial column, not a work of prose. You don’t expect people to analyze or think what or how Mr. Tsao’s is approaching his piece. That work is reserved for literary pieces.

    When someone reads an editorial column, you read it from the point of the view of the author himself/herself, right? So, in this case for example, having read Mr. Tsao’s work, obviously people, especially Pinoys, would at once think that Mr. Tsao is a racist bastard who lambastes other countries. Who on earth would think that Mr. Tsao is taking the stance of the Chinese government in the article and exposing their stench?

    Maybe a postscript containing this piece after Mr. Tsao’s column should even things out.

  4. Hello there. It is interesting to read these discussions about Chip Tsao. Perhaps I can explain a bit the background of Chip Tsao, as I am from Hong Kong myself.

    Chip Tsao (Chinese name: 陶傑) was educated in Warick University (English Literature), and obtained a diploma in international relations in LSE. He worked for BBC for 8 years before returning to Hong Kong. He is famous for his satirical writting style (people think that he supposedly learn them from British satire proses), and he is a very famous for criticizing the Chinese and Hong Kong government.

    We are not unfamiliar with this essay he wrote- a lot of his essays are written in this style, and I think it is pretty obvious that he is criticizing the Chinese government; especially the part on Lenin, Stalin and Mao.

  5. first,never slap your boss who give u food to eat
    second,mr,tsao did make a sense
    third, we chinese make the corruption .what’s the problem?why did u follow us? besides, so far,during the almost 5000 years, the corruption has been lasting till now…we didnt disappear and we did make a rapid grogress.
    fourth,dont laugh chinese ’s acent ..coz it didnt make sense,,,we can achive a lot even the accent doesnt sound good…the point is if ur guys has the brains to make it successful or not..
    in addition,,the new generation chinese could speak english very well…
    what’s more…ur filipino’s accent really sound weird without tones at all….
    but anyway i should do apprecaite that ur guys recommend chinese to improve their english..really thanks
    fifth,,dont just talk shit b4 u found the evidence or make things clearly and correctly..
    ppl said chip tsao ’s name is funny,
    i wanna clarify that in chinese,,tsao is pronounced as tao and yao..
    for tao,it means pottery or china or can be used as a family name
    for yao,it’s a family name only
    both of the family name traced back 4300 years ago..and there re many chinese characters for both of the family name,
    wht i mean is they share same pronounciation but use differnt words or strokes..

    therefore,,b4 knwoing ppl’s history or culture..pls talk carefully.otherwise u l be laughed by all the ppl…

    as the mr.tsao’s point in the article…not all the chinese would think the same as he did,,so it’s only his point..but we chinese do love our country and protect her forever no matter where we are,where we r born,,as long as we carry this kinda of blood,,we r chinese at all..never change,,nothing can change it till the earth l disappear in the universe

  6. The problem, I guess, was context. With no real background on Mr. Tsao’s previous works or writing style, a lot of people took it for granted that he was speaking literally.

    Although, we would have a lot of egg on our face if he was, in fact, speaking literally and did hate Filipinos that much.

  7. Yes, I get what your trying to say, Why explain it yourself when the author himself didn’t give his explanation about the article. If it meant to be satirical well too bad it didn’t came out the way it was suppose to.

  8. UnAshamed: It sort of did, to its intended audience. You see, Mr. Tsao wasn’t writing with us in mind as his audience. He works for a Hong Kong-based magazine for Hong Kong han. and not for Filipinos.

    In the same way that Mon Tulfo, when he is being anti-Muslim, is not writing for the benefit of Muslims. Except, of course, Mon Tulfo is a douchebag.

    Also, if people didn’t bother explaining things to other people, well, shit… I don’t know, we’d probably still be no smarter than monkeys.

  9. @yuji chiu
    what the fuck!?? ur talking too much man and seems its all nonsense!! come on, what do we care bout how u chinese pronounce ur name or where it came from? but for all i know is that ur more idiots than we are!? Heh.

    We filipinos, are working abroad to earn money. And wether u r the boss or an emplyee or jst evn a maid(helper) u dont have the fucking right to treat people like u think ur the God. What the hell??

    We really dont have conflicts with other countries, and as far as i know some Chinese have a small community here in the phil. We\\\\\\\’re all well though they sound really strange when they talks. Heh. And hey, before you talk shits about filipinos.. pls do smell ur ass before! ( a lil reminder grain head!)

    and for Chip Tsao, u really sucks! u sounded so gay and… jst fuck ur own country!

  10. come on, what do we care bout how u chinese pronounce ur name or where it came from? but for all i know is that ur more idiots than we are!? Heh.

    And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? We don’t really give a fuck about the Chinese and how they say their names, or anything about them really.

    And that in itself weakens the whole “the Chinese are racists” quasi-argument. We’re just as racist as they are, we care as little about them as they do us. We’re just as ready to lump them together as babykillers, pirates, druglords. Never mind that as large a percentage of them are not such as we are not domestic helpers or servants.

    The quote goes, my country, may she always be in the right. but my country right or wrong, etcetera etcetera, is the equation for just one thing: chauvanism. And that’s rarely ever a good idea.

  11. The article was not meant for us, Filipinos.

    If Chip Tsao was exposing whatever stenches their government is reeking of in his own style, then let him be; that\’s what freedom of the press is about. He was exposing it not to us, Filipinos, anyway.

    And besides, there were hints of sarcasm. We may have just been too \"hurt\" by the \"insults\" that we couldn\’t spot the sarcasm.

  12. Joseph Dent, you couldn’t have said it better. People have taken each word of the article literally hence found them derogatory and insulting. They failed to see the message between the lines. It’s embarassing how far people have taken this–rallies, banning Mr.Tsao from entry to the Philippines, demands of apologies and rejection of Mr. Tsao’s apology as well. Chip Tsao has always been a supporter of the minorities including the domestic helpers of different foreign nationalities working in Hong Kong. I hope you don’t mind, I pasted your write up and sent it to the Inquirer that others may be enlightened.

  13. Argh! So this is the famous racial article everyone was talking about. In my opinion, both are right and wrong. It will be hard to avoid things like these specially if writers are trying to send a message indirectly to its readers. One must think that not everybody can read between the lines. On our side, Filipinos are patriotic and the moment a group or and individual starts saying bad things to us, we fight back. Sad part on this one is we forgot to think first.

    Many avid readers knows Mr. Chao’s reputation and is known in the writer’s community. If I was in his shoe, the first thing I would protect is the reputation I owe to my readers. So, why would I hurt the Filipinos?

    If you were in Mr. Chao’s shoe, what would you do? Or if you were the spokes person of the Filipino group in HK, what would you do?

  14. Hello. I would like to thank Ms. Carol Castro for sharing this link. I simply want to share a comment from broadcaster/blogger Ricky Carandang as stated in ANC’s Media in Focus. It isn’t verbatim though. But basically what he said was:

    Sarcasm is western humor. Culturally, we dont integrate it much to our society. So maybe it’s not idiocy of the English language per se, like some people are claiming, but simply ignorance.

    (By the way: Idiocy = you know you should know but you do not; Ignorance = you dont know you should know and you dont)

  15. Hello. The truth is “most of the Filipinos now these days are really uneducated”. Why? because most of us now don’t ever know the importance to be educated. I mean for Education pertains not only for schools, universities, etc., but how you are nurtured at your home. As of now, most of the Filipinos who reacted on the article blatantly accused of “racism” to Mr, Tsao. They always react immediately without knowing the real message of the article. Me myself at first reacted like war will begin, as i thorougly read and understand the article, I found out that it was never meant to hurt the feelings of the Filipinos but to correct his countrymen pertaining the weaknesses and faults of his own race. I want to thank the person who explained the article for being understanding. My fellow Filipinos, please wake up. In abroad, they always praise the Filipinos, like here in middle east countries because they believed in our capability and intelligent (at masipag). Maybe those who reacted to the article must be called “servants”, servants of their ignorance, short-minded and misunderstanding. (Sa madaling salita, ang pinoy na pinalaki ng mga magulang nila na makitid ang isip at hindi man lang pinag-aral dahil paniniwala ng mga magulang nila eh maaksaya lang daw sa panahon at pati mabubuting asal eh di rin itinuro ay lalaki ngang mang-mang at mapanghusga. Dapat po iwasan po natin itong nakaugalian kasi marami na rin akong kakilala na di man lang nagpursigi sa buhay e kung anu-ano na ang ginawang kawalangyaan sa sarili. In short again, nurturing and education starts at home). Thank you for the opportunity to post.

  16. Ultraman,

    You are right. Although, I think that people would get the importance of education by now, considering it’s part of our national myth: that education is your key to a better life.

    The people who overreacted to the article weren’t so much uneducated. I mean, going online requires at least some degree of literacy. The problem was that people refused to think and allowed their pride to take over.

    While I do get how others would have found the article offensive as all hell, very few stopped to think why it shouldn’t be. Or whether reacting like they did would help anything.

    It’s a prickly subject, really.

  17. in my opinion, kahit na satire pa yan, meron ding tinatawag na responsible journalism and although he may not be trying to insult filipinos and is just acting like the “racist chinese patriot”, he should understand that this article may just strengthen the belief of most chinese people about filipinos being nothing but housemaids..filipinos have the right to get angry because there is a better way to get his point across without ridicule.. you don’t have to embarass someone just to make people understand that it’s wrong.

    for the educated, it’s just a style of writing and they say that before reacting,readers should understand what the writer is trying to say.. pero for me, it’s irresponsible and hitting below the belt. dapat alam nung author that with his article being online, mas madaming mga tao makakabasa nito from different countries like Singapore, the Middle East, London at iba pa who employ Filipinos in their households. . at palagay nyo ba most people from these countries would even realize that this is satire?of course not, They won’t even be interested with the background of the author, let alone his writing style..

    I’m sure they would just agree that Filipinos should bend to their masters and that they could do as they want with us because they provide our bread and butter… sad diba? when i was in the philippines, i could not care less pero now, as a corporate banker in dubai, I get insulted because many foreigners look down on me and treat me as if I am stupid just because I share the same nationality as their maid…

  18. LadyBanker, mahina nga talaga utak mo if you think that Chip Tsao’s article was ridiculing Pinoys. He was actually ridiculing his own compatriots, the Hong Kongers for their bad treatment of maids, as well as mainland Chinese for double standards when it came to dealing with powerful and weak countries. Hindi kasalanan ni Chip Tsao if most Pinoys or other online readers won’t understand the concept of satire. But now that you understand, that’s one less dumb person in the world, I guess. One good example of satire was the movie Borat, but judging by how most Pinoys are not aware of the movie and did not patronize it, talagang hindi bebenta sa masa ang matalinong klase ng pagpapatawa tulad neto. I’m not saying we should laugh at Chip Tsao’s article, but to read between the lines and understand what he’s really saying. But if you still can’t come to terms with it, well, my condolences—you are brain dead.

  19. Meron pa palang mas bobo sa forum na ito: yuji chiu the Chinese idiot for his/her nonsensical and barely readable post, and bastarda the Filipina dumbass for her equally blubbering rant in response. And don’t call me racist, because my dad is Chinese and my mom is Filipina. Any insult toward either side is hurting to me.

  20. @LadyBanker:

    I think this is the core of why you were offended:

    “when i was in the philippines, i could not care less pero now, as a corporate banker in dubai, I get insulted…”

    You see, satire is pretty much in the eye of the beholder, and does have a tendency to be offensive when it hits close to home. As in your case, because people now tend to look down on you for being a Filipino.

    It’s not so much about our national pride, or the dignity of the OFW, but that people might think that you’re a servant. Which , actually, is pretty honest of you to say.

    Now, now, Coorsguy. Remember what Gandhi supposedly said about an eye for an eye leaving everybody blind (or whatever,) calling people names for calling people names leads to a lot of name calling.

    I guess we Filipinos aren’t quite comfortable with satire just yet, or our satire is of a different sort.

  21. Basically, I was offended. Yeah, na-hurt ako.
    So does this make me very uneducated and immature?

    I can’t believe that fellow Filipinos are insulting their fellow countrymen.

    Let’s say that Chip is really on our side. How can an average Filipino know that? Most of us take most things literally. That’s just who we are. So does this mean that me and the others who got angry at the article are dumb?

    My opinions changed when I read this article. I understand it even more. Although I am still angry at Chip, I’m a bit relieved now that he really didn’t mean it.

    But still, only a few people can read between the lines.

    I’m even more hurt now that my own countrymen are insulting me.

    So basically some people here are declaring that most Filipinos are dumb because we don’t read between the lines? Sorry ah.

  22. ConfusedStudent:
    You’re right. Insulting fellow Fililipinos is uncalled for.

    However, I believe OneTamad, myself and some other Filipinos online are appalled not at the ignorance per se but at the insults and racist comments that our fellow countrymen have thrown at Chip Tsao as a knee-jerk reaction to the article.

    This kind of behavior does more damage to our country’s reputation more than the original article ever did.

  23. ConfusedStudent,

    You aren’t dumb for not reading between the lines. You’re right. It’s probably a cultural thing.

    What’s dumb is crying “racism!” and then insulting the Chinese with racial slurs.

  24. The first time I read the article, I already knew that it was being sarcastic and satirical although I wasn’t able to understand all the jokes. But thanks to this I understood more of what it was about. I even showed the article to my father and he said, “I think it was clever.” And I agree with him.

    Unfortunately many kababayans are “pikon,” suffer from excessive/misguided nationalism, and would seem to get enraged for the slightest reasons. But it’s good to see there are still people with a good sense of humor 🙂

  25. I don’t even know what my offended fellow Filipinos are doing on this website. The tagline alone should make them close this website; it’s a hilarious tagline though.

    On that note, I don’t think the article was THAT funny (probably because I’m a bit lacking on some of the contextual grounds), but it was a good satire.

  26. I doubt most of the pinoys crying for Chip Tsao’s head have even read the article.

    Now if only we could use this “patriotic fervor” for something constructive. Like say, make the Philippines a better place?

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