Like all humble philanthropists, I don't like to talk about my charity work. Though in my case that's because I don't do very much, beyond a monthly Red Cross direct debit that could be a lot bigger, the annual Herring, buying the occasional charity eBook to offset my guilt for stealing all the others and dropping coins into cups on the rare occasions I head into civilisation. I'm no Jimmy Savile, is what I'm saying.
Living in what can inaccurately but emotively be called 'the third world' ('developing country' isn't any more accurate), you can imagine that my first world guilt is pushed to its limits every day as I walk past malnourished men, women and infants sprawled out on cardboard in the street, the ones who still possess a modicum of strength extending a withered hand in a silent, impassioned plea.
Well, you'd be wrong, as like all foreigners and aspiring middle-class people here I shield myself from the distasteful poverty by living behind guarded gates, out of reach of the zombie-like peasants' aimlessly grasping arms. I feel like a right prick when we look at prospective houses in gated subdivisions, but I know this is an unfortunate necessity to keep the more desperate locals away from my door and so I won't have to switch off the lights and hide in the dark when the trick-or-treaters come calling.
I try not to shut myself away completely though, and stay updated on all the latest depressing news stories more than I ever did back 'home,' where things just objectively weren't as bad. Are the Tories reducing your access to free medical care? That's a shame, we're just dealing with inevitable annual supertyphoons, the threat of war with China and the government handing over part of the island I live on to terrorists. I'm not so self-involved (LOL!) to not let my cushy, shut-in life be affected by the miserable hell outside, even if I feel powerless to do anything beyond the one-to-one level.
I've often wondered what it would take to shock me out of this apathy and to take a stand, and today I finally reached that level. Reading my favoured opinionated local news blog - which is the best I've found even if you have to tolerate the occasional homo/Islamophobia - my heart went out to one of its regular contributors, who valiantly bared his soul to tell us:
"I have the misfortune of having to live with house-help who enjoy watching local TV that is utterly filled with errors and worse. As much as I’d like to put a stop to it, I try to be a gracious host and employer and allow them to watch whatever it is they want. “To each his own” after all."
Goddamn, feels like someone just ripped the aorta right outta me.
That a (presumably) tax-paying, middle-class Filipino should have to be subjected to the poor taste of his scumbag servants when they're slacking off from preparing his lunch, sweeping his floor, scrubbing the stains off his toilet and doing all the other things he pays some humans upwards of £1.25 per day to do for him (plus meals and a broom cupboard for sleeping with absolutely no hanky-panky) just goes to show that the suffering of the Filipino is not limited to the destitute.
"Misfortune" is putting it mildly, but that was the word he chose to apply to himself in this situation, so there's no going back on it now. I will not rest on the comfortable bed on which I'm typing this until this uppity blogger's wretched retainers are stripped of their naive individuality and conditioned to conform to their's lord's superior taste in entertainment.
For a start, I'd suggest cutting off the TV signal altogether and only allowing them access to a carefully screened selection of DVDs that I will personally provide. Educational titles such as Spartacus, Roots, V for Vendetta, Strike, Revolution... however many it takes for the message to get through and for this problem to take care of itself.
I've even started work on a charity single:
Don't be a prick
It's good to find these people whose terrible attitudes provide constructive examples of how not to turn out myself, and a reminder to hold on to my values out here even if I never cease to be annoyed by my host country. If I'd been brought up in a culture where having "house-help" was considered the norm, rather than bloody weird and a bit offensive, I suppose that could easily have been me.
If you were wondering how my other great counter-example Alfred the Disgruntled Expat is getting on these days, you'll be pleased to hear he hasn't improved at all. You can follow the guilty pleasure and hypocritical works of art that are his occasional updates over on that horrible racist blog that I won't link to, but is easy to find by combining "filipino" with any scathing adjective. Catch up on all his latest encounters with stupid Pinoys as he attempts to cheat on his wife and trick her into miscarriage, vengefully vandalises taxi seats and tells beggars to "fuck off," all the while trying to work out how exactly the Filipinos in these stories are supposed to be the bad guys.
I'd be happier if I just stayed off the internet altogether. But wouldn't we all?