During Mass on Sunday right after communion, a middle-aged female Phillipino woman came up to the pulpit. She was sobbing into her handkerchief and started profusely apologizing. Of course, the Mr. and I had no idea what was going on… it was a little difficult to understand her, but she was apologizing for her government’s response to the bus hijacking that killed eight Hong Kong residents. She kept asking that employers not take out their anger on them, and we’re assuming she meant the large maid’s community here. It was a bit awkward as people looked at one another trying to figure out what was going on, but it soon became clear that this woman was just very emotional and was issuing a genuine, heartfelt apology.
I’m wondering if the idea of a public apology is cultural. I know that if something bad happened in the United States against another race that I don’t think I would feel compelled to apologize… I guess that is because I don’t feel obligated to defend the American government in the slightest. But being a foreigner abroad and regardless of whether or not I agree with anything the American government is doing, I need to be really sensitive that others might expect this from me.
After church, we’d planned to go to the back side of the island for brunch on the beach… we couldn’t figure out why our taxi driver drove us in two big circles before taking us around the island in the opposite direction, although we did see signs for ‘HK Traffic Diversions.’ As it turns out there was a giant, peaceful protest against the Philippine government. I’m assuming the protest was on Sunday because that is the only day all of the poor maids have off…
Here’s the NY Times article which the Mr. just sent me… we need to find a more immediate, English news source here. We don’t have a TV and can never understand a word on the radio the cabs are always blaring… and the WSJ or NYT immediate email alerts aren’t so helpful on the other side of the world.
Lets remember the victim’s families, the Phillipine leaders, and all of the maids here in our thoughts and prayers.