CHiNOY TV is premiering its new documentary program “CHiNOY TV Presents: Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart #1CH1NOY” on July 24!
The ten-episode weekly series, which showcases the stories of the Filipino-Chinese people and the cultural values that they owe their success to, marks a step forward in the community’s initiative to define the modern Chinoy heritage. In light of this milestone, we look back to CHiNOY TV’s decade-long journey as a resounding voice for this unique diasporic identity and direct a spotlight to the man behind the scenes.
In an exclusive interview, Fil-Chi Media Productions President Alvin Kingson Tan shares his personal insights, experiences, and hopes for the future of a people who are Chinese by blood but undoubtedly Filipino by heart.
How do you perceive your identity as the president of Fil-Chi Media Productions and a third-generation Chinoy?
Like many young Chinoys, there was a time when my Chinoy identity wasn’t clear enough. Coming from a traditional Chinese family that is more slanted towards the Chinese side, I grew up in an environment where I was taught that being Chinese is distinct to being a Filipino, so I had to choose between the two.
This all changed when I had the chance to read about and listen to Ms. Teresita Ang See, the founder of Bahay Tsinoy. Through her, I learned that we don’t need to choose between the two identities. Instead, we should embrace both cultures. That’s what makes us unique and different. Quoting Ms. Tessy: “Chinoys should not think that we are Chinese who just happen to be in the Philippines but rather Filipinos who happen to have Chinese blood.”
What do you think being Chinoy means to you?
Being a Chinoy for me is both a privilege and a responsibility. [It is] a privilege in the sense that we are fortunate enough to have the Philippines accept our forefathers years back, which allowed us to treat this country as our home; and a responsibility, especially during these times where there are some misunderstandings between the two nations. I feel that Chinoys, being both Chinese and Filipino, are in the best position to bridge both communities.
Growing up, what Chinoy values did you value the most? How does this affect your current work?
Hard work is one of the values instilled by my parents since I was young. My mom taught me that I had to study hard to get good grades while my Dad used to bring me to meetings and to his office at an early age. They taught me that everything should be earned through hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance, and that nothing is given for free. I was able to apply these in CHiNOY TV. As a start-up with limited resources in the production field, we had to endure enormous challenges for us to sustain our operations year after year, most especially during this pandemic wherein many advertisers have decided to cut their advertising budgets.
What do you think of the evolving Chinoy identity as the next generation rises?
I feel that many of the next generations are too modern, and [that] they don’t see the value in their Chinese roots anymore. That’s the very reason why we decided to launch the #1CH1NOY campaign, so that we can create a platform that allows us to describe or define what a modern Chinoy is while creating a balance between tradition and modernity, as well as being Chinese and Filipino — similar to the concept of Yin and Yang.
CHiNOY TV produces lifestyle and culture-related content for Filipino-Chinese audiences in order to better connect them to their heritage. What are your dreams for CHiNOY TV?
My dream for CHiNOY TV is to become a catalyst of change in the Chinese-Filipino community by helping lessen the stereotypes and the misunderstandings surrounding both cultures. Growing up, I was exposed to a Chinese-Filipino TV show produced by Kaisa Foundation entitled “Pin Pin”, and that allowed me to better appreciate my Chinese heritage. I hope that through CHiNOY TV’s contents, activities, and platforms, we’ll be able to do the same for the next-generation Chinoys.
What do you enjoy in your work with CHiNOY TV?
What I enjoy most about my work with CHiNOY TV is that there’s no such thing as routinary [work] in terms of my day-to-day tasks. One day, we’re working with a telecommunications company. The next day, we’re working with insurance, real estate, food, and other companies from diverse backgrounds.
I also like the fact that CHiNOY TV is operating like a social enterprise in the sense that we’re able to do something for the community — a social mission — while combining it with our business objectives.
Working with CHiNOY TV also allows me to innovate new ideas and approaches. Transitioning from TV to digital in this pandemic and handling Mr. and Ms. Chinatown for the first time way back 2016 are some of the most nerve-wracking experiences I’ve had, but they gave me the greatest fulfillment at the same time.
What challenges have you faced in your work with CHiNOY TV, especially in light of the ongoing pandemic?
The pandemic has put our 10-year business model (read: TV and events) to the test. We knew that going digital was the way to go, especially since TV viewership has been going down the past years due to the advent of technology, [as well as] our home network’s broadcast license [being] in peril. But this pandemic has sped up the process and forced us to adapt and change our model.
We utilized this past year to pivot and learn the ropes of how a digital business is supposed to be run. The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is doing all of these changes, improvements, and expansions in the middle of the pandemic, when most businesses are either downsizing or closing down. Since we’ve somehow already established our digital platforms, we decided to bring back the TV program to complement our digital offering.
How do you envision CHiNOY TV’s future, especially with its upcoming new documentary series?
I envision CHiNOY TV to be very active in the digital space, creating relevant content about Chinese-Filipino stories and culture across different platforms. The new documentary series is just the springboard of exciting things to come. We have more content in the pipeline which aims to capture not only the local but also the larger international audience through the different streaming platforms available in the market.
I also envision CHiNOY TV to provide more opportunities to aspiring Chinoys who want to get into the creative field and content production, which were not available before since, due to practicality reasons, many [Chinoy] elders were not as supportive of their kids pursuing these paths.
What advice do you have for the Chinoy youth?
My advice to the Chinoy youth is to learn to appreciate both our Chinese and Filipino roots. We don’t necessarily need to choose between the two, but we can look at them as a whole — 100% Filipino and 100% Chinese. Only by looking at it this way will we better appreciate and understand our Chinoy identity.