One Chinese and the Filipino People.

He was bashed, mocked, and looked down. People called him stupid, idiot, and other degrading names. He trended nationwide in a social networking site. He was proclaimed the most popular man in the Philippines, by CNN. Why? Because people looked down to him in a mistake he never intended to do.

We all have our “tanga” moments, but they don’t make us less of a person. Or do they?

Christopher Lao was interviewed by GMA news reporter Jun Veneracion after his car was spotted driving to a deep-flooded street in Quezon City. Lao blamed the government, and people blamed him.

Because of this video, he felt instantly a stupid “star”. People, Pinoys especially, questioned his being a summa cum laude graduate of UP College of Law. In retrospect, the dean of the said academic institution defended Lao and told the media that they are still proud of him.

In GMA’s follow-up report aired yesterday, Lao released his official statement.

Official Statement from Christopher Lao
4 August 2011

The past few days have been very disheartening for me and my family. As you know I have been a subject of a viral video that showed my helplessness during a trying moment. As it stands right now, I have several hate pages in Facebook and Twitter with hurtful and derogatory messages attacking my person. The reputation that I built the past years has been besmirched. A bad day has now turned into wounded feelings and sleepless nights for me and my family.

I have been silent the past few days as I want this to go away soon but not before saying sorry and thank you to people who matter.

I would like to apologize for my behavior that was seen on nationwide television and now on the internet. It was unfortunate that I was caught on camera immediately after an overwhelmingly stressful mishap.

I would like to again sincerely thank those who braved the flood to help a distraught stranger like me. Their selfless act reminded me of how dependable Filipinos are in times of crisis.

Lastly, I would like to thank my family, friends and all of those who showed empathy, consideration and support throughout these trying times. You have given me strength and courage to rise above and be a better person.

Sincerely yours,

Christopher Lao SOURCE:

There he was. An innocent guy driving, probably eager to go home to be with his family (judging from the clothes he was wearing), and was spotted by news reporters and immediately interviewed. And all of a sudden, he was popular – for being “too stupid”. People even started using his sentence “I should have been informed”, which is, mind you, trending TODAY in the Philippines.

Who are to blame?

Lao? For being “so damn stupid” not to notice the high flood, and still let his car wander through the streets. or the Media? For, as many face book users see it, sensationalizing the news?

FOR ME, it isn’t sensationalism. One of the news elements is HUMAN INTEREST. Of course, it catches the news gatherer’s interest, and it will obviously catch the people’s. (EVIDENTLY) But besides that, that news story also presented elements like PROXIMITY, and ODDITY. Proximity in the sense that the location was MOTHER IGNACIA AVENUE in QUEZON CITY, it may also serve as a foreboding to those who would pass the same street so that they could avoid the flood. Oddity because where in the world can you see a “swimming” car?

I don’t think the media should be the only one to blame for wounding Lao’s dignity. But the third-world mentality of the people bashing him, as well. Lao may be inarticulate in explaining his point and sounded like he was just trying to escape his misfortune. But he’s got a point. Since there were many people there, why did no one gave him a sign by probably waving a hand to stop him or warn him? His argument was that he saw people on the other side of flooded streets, and he did not realize early that it was that deep. Who knows if it is Lao’s first time to pass by that street? I mean, we all make mistakes. We don’t know what kind of circumstances was this driver under, and yet we judged him, calling him stupid.

Ano bang mararamdaman natin kung sa atin ginawa yun? Kung sa kapamilya natin?

Look how people treat him now? There is a big circle of all the good things you’ve done as a person, and then when you commit a mistake, a dot stains the circle. And no matter how big the circle of your good doings appear, people will only notice the dot.

What happened to the ever hospitable, forgiving, and compassionate Filipino people we once were? 😦


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