MANILA, Philippines – The Cebu-based foreigner who hosted the viral video “20 Reasons I Dislike the Philippines” has apologized after a Cebu City councilor reportedly moved to declare him persona non grata amid public outrage over his video.
In a video statement on ChannelFix.com, which uploaded his original video, James Sieczka appeared distraught in a 3-minute “official response and apology.”
“I’m deeply sorry that I’ve offended some of the people in the Philippines and the show was just made to point out obvious things that any other person probably would acknowledge and say to themselves and say to their friends, but obviously not take the steps that I took and put it in a video,” Sieczka said.
He said he did not intend to hurt Filipinos “in this wonderful and beautiful nation that’s been so great to me since I moved here 3 and a half years ago.” He added: “It saddens me that so many people took it to heart, took it too seriously… they just… kind of…,” said Sieczka.
For his video that generated a mix of positive and negative reactions on Twitter, a Cebu City councilor will file a resolution to declare Sieczka a persona non grata or an unwelcome personality in the area, according to The Philippine Star.
In his video, the foreigner criticized Filipinos for practices like littering or urinating on walls.
Sieczka declined Rappler’s request for an interview, saying he needs to act on his “lawyers’ wishes.” “I need to rest a bit and then, in the near future, I’ll be able to address the media on my terms,” Sieczka said in a text message.
‘Hate’ a strong word
In his apology, the host of the viral video also clarified he doesn’t hate the Philippines, contrary to perceptions. “Hate is a strong word… It’s such a strong word for anyone, to think that I would stay here for as long as I have, and hate the place. It’s just not true,” he said.
In another written statement he sent to The Philippine Star and TV5, Sieczka said he made the video “in good faith and as a legitimate and reasonable exercise of my right, ‘freedom of expression.’”
“It’s an honest observation and opinion that I myself think needs to be worked on not just specifically in Cebu. These are little things that we see around us as normal people and from the eyes of an ordinary man like me,” he explained.
Based on a recent survey, the Philippines is the best place for foreigners to work and play away from their home countries. It is the 2nd best place in the world to make friends, according to the 2011 Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Inc’s Expat Explorer Survey.
The Philippines ranked lowest in terms of utilities and local transport, among other things. – Rappler.com