Filipino Mom To Ask For Public Apology

The mother of a seven-year-old boy who was punished at a Roxboro school for his eating habits, which are customary in the Philippines, is seeking a public apology from the administrator for his comments.

Over the last couple of months, Luc Cagadoc says he was moved to an empty table about 10 times by École Lalande’s lunchtime day-care monitor for his table etiquette. The caregiver also called him “disgusting,” he says.

The Roxboro resident, whose parents originate from the Philippines, says he was disciplined for using a fork to push his food onto a spoon before bringing both utensils to his mouth — a manner used widely in the South Pacific nation.

When Cagadoc’s mother phoned the Roxboro school to inquire about the punishments, she was shocked by principal Normand Bergeron’s response.

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“He said, ‘Madame, you are in Canada. Here in Canada you should eat the way Canadians eat,’” Maria Theresa Gallardo said. She claims Bergeron said her son eats like a “pig.”

But Bergeron told The Chronicle last week that Cagadoc sometimes acts up during the lunch hour and has been known to make a mess at the table. He says the school moves children to sit by themselves when they are misbehaving and it has nothing to do with Cagadoc’s background.

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The school board received a complaint from Cagadoc’s parents on April 18, according to a Commission scolaire Marguerite Bourgeoys (CSMB) spokesman. “The story at the school’s level is that it’s a disciplinary problem,” Brigitte Gauvreau said. “We will continue to discuss with everybody together so that everyone has a good understanding of what happened.”

Meanwhile, backed by two local Filipino associations, Gallardo plans to request a formal apology from Bergeron. “They don’t want to interfere between me and the behaviour of my son at school, they just want a comment regarding the issue about the Philippines,” she said of the community groups. “They felt so insulted.”

Gallardo has applied to transfer her son to a school in neighbouring Pierrefonds next fall.

Reaction to last week’s story

Meanwhile, an article in last week’s Chronicle about the incident prompted a flurry of letters and e-mails from readers.

For instance, Rogerio Ajero wrote: “Your article just exposed how there are still some segments of Quebec society that thinks their way is the only right way. This principal has to travel himself some times and educate himself about other cultures.”

Marivic Juson wrote: “What does Canadian really mean? Is it only those people who are eating with a fork and knife? What about those people who use chopsticks? Are they Canadian, too?”

Read more comments about this story in the letters to the editor section under Columns.

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