What’s ‘Fat Man in Ethiopia’ Got to Do With Philipino Politics?

Tadias Magazine

Updated: Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New York (Tadias) – Today we came across an article entitled The fat man in Ethiopia written by Korina Sanchez for The Freeman Newspaper in the Philippines and posted on The Philippine STAR, a leading news portal for the Filipino global community. Ms. Sanchez was decrying the misappropriation of a road user’s tax fund and the extravagant life of one Dodi Puno, an ex-Executive Director of the Road Board in the Philippines. She concluded that Mr. Puno had a trait that other Filipinos share called the “fat man in Ethiopia” effect.

“How can you own all of these luxurious items while working in government, and not expect people to ask questions? How can a fat man in Ethiopia go unnoticed?” writes Ms. Sanchez. Needless to say, her analogy is faulty and disparaging. Such careless statements belittle the long and otherwise positive historical relations between the Filipino and Ethiopian communities. We encourage Ms. Sanchez to pick a more sensible and appropriate title for her article.

12 Responses to “What’s ‘Fat Man in Ethiopia’ Got to Do With Philipino Politics?”

  1. 1 Leilt Nov 16th, 2009 at 10:13 am

    The heck?! It’s unbelievable folks in today’s day & age still have such misconceptions about our country…

  2. 2 Meron Meshesha Nov 16th, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Thank you Tadias for Niping Ms. Sanchez’s negative perceptions in the bud. ‘The keys to combating negative stereotypes is to realize that ignorance does exist and to call it out wherever it may appear’ (paraphrasing what someone once said). The author is feeding of Ethiopia’s national tragedy that consumed hundreds of thousands of people. But Ethiopia is more than that – a proud people of 80 million from diverse social, economic and ethnic backgrounds. Yes, there are fat people in Ethiopia, as I am sure they are plenty of them in the Philippines as well. We do have our share of corrupt and tyrannical politicians too, but Ethiopian columnist do not relay on an inappropriate Philippine Stereotypes to make their point. Korina Sanchez wanted to make her point at the expense of 80 million Ethiopians. And it is wrong and inexcusable. Thank you for calling her out.

  3. 3 Dinka Nov 16th, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Tadias! Why are you so concerned about the term “fat man”? I think it is a good metaphor to talk about issues. After Meles came to power he got fat where as about 20 million people facing starvation. He deliberately perpetuated hunger in Tigray to achieve this narrow tribalist and fascist regime.

  4. 4 germa Nov 16th, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    I think its a desperate cry trying to be recognized as one of 1st class world. I have been to manila and have seen enough poverty in a large scale that Filipinos women are known as domestic workers throughout the world.

  5. 5 Begudu Nov 16th, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Oh, I Get it. Does she mean like “dogs in Manila” ? hummmm. {Yummy}
    Show me a dog in the Philippines and I will show you a fat man in Ethiopia.


  6. 6 Dinka Jilo Nov 17th, 2009 at 12:57 am


    What are you talking about? Stay on topic. Tadias is addressing the authors mocking of Ethiopia. Tadias is not talking about Meles or Ethiopian politics.

    (Not speaking for Tadias)

    Dinka Jilo

  7. 7 Teddy Nov 17th, 2009 at 6:55 am

    That’s like the “Barking dog in Philippines,” something you’ll never hear because dogs are a national delicacy.

  8. 8 Injera Nov 17th, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Please stop this dog stuff…some of you guys are being just as stupid as Korina Sanchez. First of all, as far as I know, Dogs are a national delicacy in South Korea, not the Philippines. Secondly, even if Dogs are a national delicacy in her country, then what is your point? We eat kitfo with mitmita and me (Injera) as a delicacy. Trust me, raw meat is just as awfully appetizing as dogs are to some cultures. So you are just perpetuating the same old ignorance. Of course, it is truly shameful that Ms. Sanchez showed such a poor taste in selecting her title. She should have called it “The Corrupt Filipino Fat Cat”. It fits the story much better. Other than that, I think people from the Philippines are generally really wonderful. I have had classmates in college and have colleagues at work right now. In fact, I showed this story to one of my friends at work and he was visibly embarrassed. So Filipinos are very decent people. Ms. Korina Sanchez is simply ignorant.

  9. 9 Moges Nov 17th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    A “Fat Cat”? Bad choice. What if all the cats rebel against Sanchez? :-)

    All joking aside though, what was this woman thinking? Because I will not dignify her by mentioning her name again. People call her Ms this and Ms that. Give me a break. This lady is suffering from Napoleonic Complex: People who feel inside that they are less than the average ; thusly causing themselves to find scapegoats in order to prove their worth and maintain an illusion of “larger than life”. Who is she kidding by ridiculing Ethiopia’s poverty? Philippines is one of the poorest and mismanaged countries in Asia. Not long ago, at least under Ferdinand Marcos ( you remember the wify who had a knack for keeping S***t load of shoes) people where starving in the Philippines. It might not have been as bad as the Ethiopian famine, but some Filipinos were in just as dire situation (and they probably are today). So, Pleeez lady.

    As our people say: Yerasiwa arobat, yesew tamasilalech. Some things are better left untranslated.

    The woman is old school. She probably thought she was writing for only a Filipino audience in small newspaper, completely oblivious that we live in the internet age, where news instantly travels across oceans and hurt feelings.

  10. 10 TG Nov 17th, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    First of all thank you Tadias for sharing and continuing to educate!

    It is amazing how ignorant people are especially at the age of internet were there is unlimited information on any subject.

    I know the media played a big roll in portraying Ethiopia’s tragedy over and over. We are not denying that this tragedy existed and still does to some degree however; there are more to Ethiopia than her misfortune. When are they going to shine a light on her rich culture, beautiful people and their struggle to better their life? I wish they pick up a book or two to educate themselves and not just rely on what they hear in the media.

    It was a bad judgment in her part and I hope she realizes that soon.

    Thanks again!

  11. 11 Betty Mammo Nov 24th, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Someone should pass on this article from the Examiner blog to Ms. Sanchez:

    “TWO Huddersfield men are out to save the lives of Ethiopians – from gorging, drinking and smoking themselves to death. In a total U-turn from the haunting images of the 1984 famine which sparked Live Aid, parts of Ethiopia are now becoming affluent and some of its wealthier people are falling victim to Western-style excesses – including obesity.”

    How ironic. Here is the link: http://www.examiner.co.uk

  12. 12 Bill Dasigan-Collins Jun 14th, 2010 at 12:57 am

    I came across this opinion page by accident while searching for an article about Filipinos working overseas (which I later found – http://showbizandstyle.inquirer.net/sim/sim/view/20100612-275229/Construction-Skills-and-Green-Papaya) I am a Filipino American who was born and raised in the Philippines and have lived both in Seattle, WA and now in Alaska. I am familiar with the aforementioned Filipino author of the article in question because she is quite a popular TV newscaster in the Philippines where I return to visit almost every year. The truth of the matter is, well, she is just being “true” to herself because she is actually known to be a highly opinionated, brash but not a very bright television mouth piece in the Philippines. If anything, she is merely popular there because of her “sensationalistic” approach to newscasting. Not only do I agree that her choice of words were terrible, it was also irresponsible and testament to her narrow mindedness and ignorance. If I may, just because I am a Filipino myself, I feel compelled to offer an apology to whoever was hurt by Korina Sanchez’ unfortunate ignorance. In some of my past employments, I have had the honor to work with some very nice and admirable people from Ethiopia and am in fact proud to call a few of them friends.

    P.S. Dog meat is not a delicacy in the Philippines like it is in some parts of Korea. That misconception actually came from an old man’s tale about a wife scolding her wine guzzling (alcoholic!) husband about him wanting to drink all the time rather than getting food for his family, and only getting food when there is nothing left to eat save for the pet.

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