Community, Lifestyle

12 Relatable Moments Chinoys Have DEFINITELY Experienced

Author’s note: This piece is part three of the series of articles I’ve made on relatable moments Chinoys experience or have experienced. The first, 12 Things Chinoys Can DEFINITELY Relate To, came out last September 2020. The second came out in November 2020 and is titled, 12 VERY Relatable Chinoys Experiences. Now, please enjoy part three! 


I don’t know about you, but I love being Chinese-Filipino. This dual identity that we have, both Chinese AND Filipino, not just one or the other, seems to me to be unlike any other. A lot of what we do and how we live reflects facets of both the Chinese and Filipino culture — a number of us already have Filipino or Spanish surnames, too. 

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and pause for a while. Let’s relish the relatable, funny moments we’ve had as Chinoys!


1) Going to Chinese schools and learning Chinese (but sometimes wishing we weren’t). 

Whether ICAn or Judenite, really, many of us didn’t really like getting up at 5 or 6 a.m. to get to school to … once again bring out a xiaokai for a zuowen. I mean, it is tough, even for the toughest of us. (The horror on our faces when we realized too late that we ran out of them! Oh, our laoshi would not let us go so easily on that one.) 

However, it’s worth noting that we Chinoys are indeed multilingual. Many of us know English, Tagalog, Mandarin, and Minnan/Ban Lam, commonly called, Hokkien/Fookien. That’s beside the fact that some of us reside in places like Cebu, which adds another local tongue to the list. It’s quite amazing, really.


2) Making Chinese lanterns from scratch, doing paper cutouts, and gracefully struggling in calligraphy.

Image from

These are other Chinese grade school and high school hits. Why purchase new lanterns when students can make them themselves? (Yes, my fellow Xaverians, in particular, I’m referring to you! We, the younger alumni, simply loved all the glue and Japanese papers we had to use during Chinese New Year season.) 

Besides lanterns, of course, we would do these intricate and lovely paper cutouts and mopit works that really taught us patience — or attempted to, anyway. 


3) Singing Teresa Teng songs in association gatherings or when shopping malls play it during Chinese New Year season

Image from



4) Going to Banawe to get your car fixed or to eat in Chinatown’s Best 

A lot of Chinoys do live in Banawe, and this area has become a go-to place for vehicle repairs and vehicle accessories.

Lastly, and unfortunately for us who’ve liked it there, Banawe once served as the location of the restaurant Chinatown’s Best Food. October 31, 2020 marked the last day of operations as the economy continues to struggle amid the pandemic. Fortunately, according to its Facebook page, “We don’t know what the future holds but hopefully one day we can see you once again.”


Image from

5) Going to Gloria Maris for ______’s birthday 

You name it: angkong, ama, aunty, uncle, father, mother, sister, brother, cousin, in-laws, cousin-in-law … Odds are we’ve spent, at the very least, one of our relatives’ birthdays in Gloria Maris Seafood Restaurant in Greenhills. Remember that time many years ago when the restaurant wasn’t so big yet? And how much we were “wow-ed” when it did become so big after its renovation? Those were the times.


6) “Ano ba ‘to? Chinese or Japanese?” 

Image from

Chinoys are often asked if unknown characters are in Chinese or Japanese. Though a number of Chinese and Japanese characters are similar, not all are. Sorry!


7) “Are you related to *insert someone with the same last name*?”

No need for further explanation: US Senator Bernie Sanders’ reaction speaks for itself.


8) Friends asking for math and science help.

Again, no need for further explanation. 


9) Being Catholics but still using incense when venerating our ancestors

As a Chinese-Filipino Catholic, this is a phenomenon that definitely sparks my interest. Many of us Chinoys are Catholic, and yet a lot of us honor our ancestors with incense sticks. Several Catholic schools sometimes use Chinese incense sticks during Holy Mass as a gift during the Offertory.

A number of Catholic Churches that cater to the Chinoy community also have an ancestral memorial tablet where incense can be burned. Incense sticks are sometimes used to worship God and honor Mary and the saints. In my opinion, these gestures are a great way of incorporating elements of Chinese culture into Catholic life.


10) Having a Chinese tutor — and bringing and eating snacks while in the Chinese tutor session

Either we ourselves had tutors, or for parents, their children did. Learning Mandarin definitely isn’t the easiest thing in the world. And no, we Chinoys aren’t walking Chinese dictionaries. We need to learn fair and square, too. So, after class, which usually ends around 4 p.m., many students would go directly to their tutors.

Special shoutout to those tutoring centers that allow food to be brought inside!

Image from Xavier School (FB)

11) Watching a dragon and lion dance

These never get old. No matter how many times we’ve seen them, the performance of a dragon and lion dance always amazes. 


12) “Ma, extra allowance please.”

And of course, the answer is most likely a no, with an added, “Ki kotiam ah!” Indeed, our strict and loving parents are tough, but it’s toughness mixed with love. They only want the best for us. Though sometimes they may need to accept how things are changing in this generation, like how many young Chinoys opt for different career paths besides business, law, or medicine, their intentions are all good. 


That was 12 out of many, many moments Chinoys have definitely experienced. To any non-Chinese-Filipino who may be reading this, you’ll notice that yes, Chinoys do seem very Chinese. After all, Chinese schools, Chinese language, and Chinese food? It can’t really get more Chinese than that. 

However, beyond what makes us Chinese are the little experiences and nuances that make us undeniably Filipino as well. We love the country, and we only want the best for it. We want to see it grow to its full potential. That, I believe, makes us Filipino by heart. 


The author of this article: 

An accomplished young Chinese Filipino writer and media personality, Aaron S. Medina is associated with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program, the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, and CHiNOY TV. He has a passion for truth, justice, and Pokémon, too! Follow him on Facebook:

Leave a Reply