SCARBOROUGH SHOAL, South China Sea — The 5-day standoff here between China and the Philippines would soon come to an end, as both countries have agreed to settle the dispute with a peaceful Siomai eating contest.
The dispute began on Sunday when Philippine authorities found eight Chinese fishing boats at Scarborough Shoal, 124 nautical miles west of the country’s main island of Luzon.
The Philippines accused the fishermen of being there illegally, asserting the area was Philippine territory because it was within the country’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, as recognised by international law.
However China claims all of the South China Sea as its own, even waters up to the coasts of other countries, and Chinese authorities insisted the fishermen were allowed to be at the shoal. (from ABS-CBN News)
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, together with Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing came up with the diplomatic solution to end the 5-day impasse and has already finalized the rules for the said match. The official rules are as follows:
- Each country will send only one representative/eater for the said event.
- A 3-man delegation from the United Nations (UN) will act as judges.
- Both players will have 2 minutes to consume as much Siomai as possible while standing up.
- In case of a tie break, a sudden death round will be implemented.
- During sudden death, the players will again have 2 minutes to consume as much siomai as they can, but each piece of siomai will have 1 teaspoon of chili sauce added
- The winning country will have the right to claim the disputed island.
- Judges would not be able to overturn the decision, unlike in American Idol, where Philippine’s own Jessica Sanchez was saved from elimination by the judges.
- The losing country will withdraw from the area, but only after washing the plates and utensils used in the contest.
“That is why we pulled our biggest warship from a standoff with the Chinese vessels Thursday, because susunduin nila yung representative natin (they will fetch our representative),” said Del Rosario. He added, “that is also the only boat from our country that could reach this far.”
The Philippine’s flagship vessel, the Greogrio Del Pilar was the one who spotted the 8 Chinese boats last week, and Filipinos were questioning why the Philippine Navy decided to withdraw from the area.
When asked why Siomai was chosen as the food to be consumed, the secretary revealed that he originally pitched for Filipino delicacies like Sapin-sapin, Turon and even Dinuguan, but his Chinese counterpart decline, because it would put them at a disadvantage.
“So, Ambassador Keqing suggested Siomai, thinking that the food was an advantage for them. I immediately agreed to the offer because what he didn’t know was that our country are accustomed to eating them due to the boom in the Siomai Food Cart business. They are literally sold everywhere in the Philippines.”
The Philippines will send Daiana Menezes, the endorser for Master Siomai as the country’s representative. No word yet whether China will complain because Menezes is Brazilian. Del Rosario said that picking Menezes was a ‘no-brainer’.
When asked about the 3rd China ship entering Scarborough Shoal today, Del Rosario reiterated that there should be no cause for concern; saying that it was merely the Chinese bringing in freshly cooked Siomais. “We are expecting a fourth Chinese Warship that will bring the Chinese representative to the contest,” he revealed.
The contest will be held Saturday, April 14th, as both countries declined to hold it today due to superstitious reasons.
Hopefully, the Philippines would emerge as the victor and not suffer the same fate as talented Filipino boxer Charly Suarez, who failed to earn a spot in the upcoming London Olympic Games, when he suffered a defeat from China’s Quiang Liu at the Asian Olympic Qualifying tournament in Astana, Kazakhstan.