Community, Lifestyle, Stories

6 Chinoys Share Their Amusing Family Quirks

Chinoys are extremely family-oriented and although most share the same culture and traditions, there are still some quirks, inside jokes, and terms that only the clan can understand. With this, we asked six Chinoys to share their family quirks!


Hannah* Lim, 20 (Manila)

“Hokkien people have a lot of extra expressions at the end or start of every sentence. Our family quirk is probably adding too much ‘ya’ in every sentence such as ‘ya gaw’, ‘ya tsa’, ‘ya pai’, and more.”


Jamie* Ngo, 18 (Quezon City)

“We, Asians, just can’t sleep without our bolsters. Some may call it hotdogs, po-tsim, or even long pillows. In our family, we call it ‘Obong’. Derived from the Hokkien phrase, ‘Ya Ho Bong’, which was initially started by my mom and her cousins, which means really great to touch!”


Lara* Sojua, 20 (Manila)

“Our family calls people wearing eyeglasses ‘Si Bak’.This is derived from two individual Hokkien words ‘Si’ and ‘Bak’ which literally means ‘Four Eyes’.”


Hector* Tan, 19 (San Juan)

“We are all familiar with using letters as shortcuts on our Hokkien phrases. Our family uses the word ‘XL’ to describe rich people. ‘XL’ is from the Hokkien phrase ‘Xiong Lang’ which is Sosyal in Filipino!”


John* Wong, 20 (Alabang)

“The Chinese language has a wide range of adjectives that we can use. Our family uses 3-word adjectives such as ‘tsin pi pi’ (pertains to the food if it gets cold), ‘o te te’ (pertains if one is wearing too much black clothes), ‘tam lok lok’ (pertains to someone dripping in sweat), and so much more.”


Emma* Yap, 21 (Manila)

“Our family quirk is that we can understand other languages with Hokkien. For example, my Guama speaks Hokkien but is heavily mixed with Bisaya words while my Guakong speaks traditional Mandarin and Hokkien only. Funny thing is, even if my Guakong doesn’t speak Bisaya and my Guama is not as fluent in Chinese as my Guakong, they are able to understand each other. Talk about receptive bilingualism. #couplegoals”


What is your clan’s quirk? Share with us in the comments!


*First name modified to accommodate interviewee’s request for privacy.

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