THE Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines (VMLP) Cebu Provincial Federation wants to declare 1969 Miss Universe Gloria Diaz persona non grata in Cebu.

Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar (Cebu City, north district) also delivered a privileged speech yesterday about Cebu as a preferred information technology (IT) center, which she said proves Cebuanos are proficient in the English language.

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The VMLP, del Mar and Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia noted Diaz did not seem apologetic when she explained why she said Cebuanos can hardly speak English.

The new set of VMLP officers took their oaths of office yesterday and Toledo City Vice Mayor Arlene Zambo said the group passed on mass motion a resolution declaring Diaz persona non grata. Diaz is not welcome in Cebu.

“In the first place, she doesn’t like the Cebuana. She has a negative impression of the Cebuanos,” said Zambo in an interview with reporters.

Intelligent people

“This is not only for Gloria Diaz. This is a very strong message for all, especially those in Manila, to please do not treat Cebuanos that way. We are very intelligent people here, creative people. We don’t deserve that,” Zambo said.

Days after Diaz made the comment, social networking websites are still abuzz with angry reactions. Del Mar demanded a public apology from Diaz.

She said other local officials are also inclined to declare Diaz persona non grata.

“Government data shows (Cebu’s) strong pool of qualified personnel suited for the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector has become Cebu’s edge in attracting leading call centers to expand in Cebu...Tourism, one of the country’s major industries, has grown partly because of the Cebuano’s ability to communicate intelligently with foreign tourists,” said del Mar.

Resentment

The privileged speech, said del Mar, was a result of the call of her constituents to voice their resentment against the stereotyping of drivers and housemaids with thick Visayan accents.

Diaz reinforced the stereotype with her statement, she said.

“I will not even dignify her low regard of the Cebuanas as being unable to speak English for that is quite obviously a mindless statement, uninformed, unenlightened.

What further aggravated the situation was her totally unrepentant position whether she was quoted out of context or perhaps it was a pure remark that she has uttered without thinking,” said Garcia in a press conference.

Zambo said that the vice mayors also want to boycott Diaz’s movies, television shows and the products she has or will endorse.

Concluding her speech, Del Mar said, “It is with much regret that I report that Diaz—former Miss Philippines—who had once brought glory to this proud nation, has awakened a sleeping giant: Cebuanos’ strong aversion to anti-Cebuano insulting remarks.”

“I therefore call on Diaz to issue a sincere public apology to the Cebuano people. It is the most responsible thing to do as the battle for national unity rages.”