The Ugly American | Inquirer News

The Ugly American

/ 12:56 AM January 10, 2012

A Korean-American who holds a top position at the US Embassy shouted invectives at a young Filipino woman whom he nearly bumped with his car last Friday.

Dean I. Chang, the American Embassy’s second secretary, cursed Princess Cordova, 22, after he got out of his Toyota Forerunner car with a Korean-looking woman, apparently his wife.


“You’re a bitch, you’re a bitch!,” Chang was heard shouting at the shocked Cordova who was crossing the driveway of a Korean restaurant on Jupiter Street, Barangay Bel-Air, Makati City.

Chang and his wife were apparently in such a hurry to get into Kaya Restaurant and nearly ran over Cordova, who was also entering the same restaurant with a female friend.


When Cordova told her uncle, Dindo Danao, an advertising executive, about the incident outside with Chang, Danao told her to go to Chang’s table to apologize.

Danao, who was waiting for Cordova inside the restaurant, told his niece she was probably at fault and that’s why the man was angry.

Even if she knew she was not, Cordova nevertheless obeyed Danao and went to Chang to apologize.

She got another mouthful from a man who’s supposed to act like a gentleman since he’s a diplomat.

“Next time I’ll run you over if you get in my way,” Chang shouted at Cordova.

When Danao protested the shabby treatment his niece got from the Korean-American, Chang reportedly challenged him to a fight.

“You wanna square off with me?” Chang said.


Danao called the police.

Chang was arrogant with responding policemen. He wouldn’t show his ID, but gave his name and his position at the US Embassy.

Chang’s identity was confirmed when the head of the responding team, Insp. Rico Ramos, checked with the US Embassy through the numbers Chang gave him.

Ramos told Danao they couldn’t hold Chang as he has diplomatic immunity.

Danao called this columnist who asked to talk to Ramos.

I said that Ramos could hold Chang for a while until members of the media came.

Ramos said he couldn’t do that, but didn’t prevent Danao from barricading Chang’s car.

Chang refused to talk to the media and went back to the restaurant with another US Embassy official who came after he phoned for help.

While Chang, his wife and the other American diplomat talked inside the restaurant, I took down the plate and windshield sticker of Chang’s car.

I surmise that based on his car stickers, Chang is a US serviceman.

One sticker reads: Dept of Defense, B6B 3C3, West Point, New York.

Another sticker says: New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, 20-6-12, No. 0806947.

He has a temporary plate: 097 Diplomatic.

*  *  *

This is probably the first time a ranking US diplomat quarreled with a Filipino outside the embassy grounds, and a young woman at that.

At the risk of generalizing, in Korea, home of Chang’s forebears, most men have a very low regard for women.

A joke goes that during the Korean War, an American soldier at a checkpoint noticed a man walking some distance behind his wife.

When the American GI asked the Korean man why he walked far behind his wife, the Korean said: “She step on land mine, me safe.”

*  *  *

Chang is not alone.

The US ambassador, Harry Thomas, is so different from his predecessor, Kristie Kenney.

He once said that foreign tourists came to Manila for sex.

These “diplomats” remind us of that 1960s movie “The Ugly American,” based on a novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer about Americans  in Southeast Asia.

I’m not referring to their looks, but their character.

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TAGS: Dean I. Chang, Diplomacy, diplomats, Philippines, ugly American, US
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