Protesters display spoon and forks with protest messages as they picket the Canadian Embassy at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines on Friday.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) Food fight infuriates Filipinos at home and abroad CTV.ca News Staff Montreal school officials are being decried as racist and intolerant after allegedly punishing a Filipino-Canadian boy for eating his lunch with a fork and spoon rather than a knife and fork. The story first made headlines in Canada last month, but in recent days it has garnered renewed attention globally, even sparking pro-knife-and-spoon protests in the Philippines. The boy, seven-year-old Luc Cagadoc, was allegedly reprimanded and made to eat at a table by himself after a lunch monitor at his elementary school on Montreal's West Island noticed his table etiquette. His mother, Maria Theresa Gallardo, claims her son had been reprimanded on numerous prior occasions for his culinary habits, which she said are typical to their country. Headlines splashed across a number of Filipino newspapers and media sources expressed outrage at the boy's punishment, which school officials claim was based on disruptive behaviour, not eating technique. In the Philippines this week, protesters expressed outrage and officials slammed the school board. On Friday, activists staged a protest outside the Canadian Embassy in Manila, carrying knife- and spoon-shaped placards with slogans reading "Respect cultural diversity" and "We eat with spoons and are proud of it." Also on Friday, the Philippines Commission on Filipinos Overseas criticized the school's decision. "Racism and ethnocentrism are an affront to human dignity and have no rightful place in any country in this modern day and age," said a statement from the government body. The commission also said Normand Bergeron, the principal of Ecole Lalande, revealed his own ignorance of cultural diversity when he allowed the boy to be punished. "It is not acceptable that just because the principal has never seen somebody eat with a spoon and fork at the same time, the eating technique should be called unintelligent," the commission stated. "Cagadoc is no longer just any child with immigrant parents. He is any Canadian's child, who could significantly contribute to the development of Canada," the commission said. The Philippine ambassador to Canada, Jose Brillantes, emphasized how seriously the embassy was taking the allegations. He said in a statement Thursday that the embassy is looking into the case and working with Filipinos in Montreal to pursue the case. "The embassy considers the alleged incident an affront to Filipino culture," Brillantes said. "To assert one's accepted eating practices, which after all are most proper and which have become part of one's cultural identity is, in fact, encouraged under the Canadian immigration policy." But Peter Sutherland, the Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, played down the situation. He described the situation as an "isolated incident" that shouldn't hurt relations between Canada and the Philippines. "Practically everyone in Canada, specifically the second and third generations are immigrants, so we are sympathetic to the values and culture of immigrants," Sutherland told The Associated Press on Thursday. The school board that encompasses the Ecole Lalande school which Cagadoc attends sent a letter to his parents last month. The board described the punishment as an "educational intervention," that was "in no way aimed at the cultural practices of your community." Instead, the punishment was a direct response to the way Cagadoc was ingesting his food, not "the method or utensils used to bring his food to his mouth." A spokesperson for the board said the event has been blown out of proportion. Gallardo, who moved to Montreal from the Philippines in 1999, said her Grade 2 son became so upset and embarrassed with the repeated criticism he was receiving at school that he no longer wanted to eat. She told The Chronicle newspaper in Montreal that she confronted the principal, and was told: "Madame, you are in Canada. Here in Canada you should eat the way Canadians eat.". She couldn't believe her ears. "I find it very prejudiced and it's racist," she told the newspaper. "He's supposed to be acting like a professional. This is supposed to be a free country with free expressions of culture and religion. This is how we eat; we eat with a fork and spoon." Since then, Gallardo has decided to pursue legal action, and has been advised not to grant interviews with the media.