There was once a time when it was difficult to see a Filipino-Chinese face in popular media.
Nowadays, however, we see more and more Chinoys taking the courage to pursue the creative path. As many people know, this isn’t the typical road to follow, especially since the older and more traditional generations would opt for their children to choose careers that are more practical and financially reassuring.
Perhaps that is why representation is important.
Allowing more Chinoys to be recognized in this kind of stage shows others that it is possible for one to achieve success in this setting and industry. This is just one of the reasons for the birth of the nationwide beauty pageant Mr. and Ms. Chinatown.
For this week’s episode recap, CHiNOY TV’s Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart features the previous winners of Mr. and Ms. Chinatown as they discuss what it means to become a voice for the Filipino-Chinese community.
In anticipation for this year’s edition of the pageant, we look to the qualities that Mr. & Ms. Chinatown should embody. Here is what viewers have to say about them:
˘1. They should be someone who gives back to the community
In the beginning, Mr. and Ms. Chinatown Philippines (MMCP) was not a particularly popular project. According to MMCP founder Wilson Agbayani, the event initially suffered from a lack of contestants and sponsors when it was first brought up in 2013.
However, once the message of what the pageant started to get out the following year, things started to change.
“It serves as a unifying event for the Filipino-Chinese community to join together and to work towards better business, philanthropy, cultural, and artistic goals. And at the same time, we want to show the diversity of our Filipino-Chinese youth — to show their talents, skills, [and] achievements [through] this project,” Agbayani shared proudly.
Pageant director Mikko Araneta explained, “For me, a good Mr. and Ms. Chinatown Philippines is someone who actually doesn’t take the title for granted. There has to be a sense of initiative. You use your title not just for yourself or for you to be recognized as such, but for you to actually make an impact to the people around you and to the community that you are a part of.”
“Someone who embodies the values of the Chinoy culture and has the heart for it. Someone who is able to speak his/her mind. Someone who’ll be able to give back to the community. These are the qualities that make a true Mr. and Ms.Chinatown!
“It is not just having the Chinito or Chinita look and features or how beautiful they look on stage or in front of the camera, it is being able to showcase compassion and love for the community. I truly admire how Ms. Chinatown Foundation and Chinoy TV started this kind of pageant as it lets us see how beautiful and colorful the Chinoy community is. I love how Sir Wilson Agbayani viewed his advocacy in creating this pageant—to preserve the cultural heritage of Filipino-Chinese people in the Philippines. And I definitely agree! Living in a country of the best pageant fans in the world, I believe this is a great avenue to promote the goal of unifying Chinoys towards the appreciation of its amazing culture,” commented Facebook user Erlinda Tabuzo.
Meanwhile, Roselyn Maglente opined: “I believe everyone has unique skills and talents, and that is what makes each one of us special. People have skills in areas such as playing an instrument, playing sports, being artistic, acting, singing, and many more. People realize their talents at different stages in their lives. Giving back to the community by sharing the skill I have is what makes the difference. Everyone has at least one thing they are really good at. When each of us brings our individual talents together, the world becomes a masterpiece painting.”
2. They should be brave and open-minded
One of the goals that Mr. and Ms. Chinatown is working hard to achieve is to fight the conservative stereotypes cast upon the Filipino-Chinese community. Since the winners of Mr. and Ms. Chinatown are those who will represent the voices of the Chinoy people, pageant candidates should be more inclusive and aware of the modern changes arising within their generation.
MMCP director Paolo Valenciano expressed, “I’m hoping that the next generation will look at [MMCP] as that time they got the recognition they deserve and that the stereotypes they’ve been trying to fight against ended because of this.”
Regarding the changes put into place in 2020’s edition of the beauty pageant, Araneta explained that MMCP itself is working towards building a model that is more open and inclusive. “In 2020, because of the online platform, we had to take out the swimsuit competition. It was replaced by the fitness segment because we wanted to give more emphasis on the healthy lifestyle that people are actually into right now. We were able to introduce no height requirements. We were able to remove boundaries, meaning we were able to tap contestants coming from outside Manila.
“I think it’s very healthy because you are actually becoming more inclusive. You actually engage more Chinoys to join. And from being a pageant, we’ve positioned ourselves to be a movement. So we wanted to create more inspiration for other people.”
Michaela Orticio believes that open-mindedness is key to success. “Being an open-minded individual helps you to grow as a person and learn so much more about the world around you. It makes life less restrictive, more enjoyable, and more of an adventure! Being open-minded also makes the world a better place as less judgment, hatred, and ignorance are thrown around.”
On a similar note, Rosallie Alcantara said, “What makes a true Mr. & Ms. Chinatown is having the bravery to break barriers and walls despite the stereotypes and misconceptions. He/she must be determined enough to take challenges head on and go for an extra mile to promote his tradition as well as showcasing how beautiful the Chinoy community is.
“Just like what Miko Araneta said, as the candidates go through the whole process of the pageant, they are able to go out of their comfort zones and try new things that are unfamiliar to them. With that, a true Mr. and Ms. Chinatown is someone who is open to embrace new challenges and is willing to accept his/her newfound appreciation of themselves.”
3. They should be passionate about what they believe in
Each and every pageant aims to show a spotlight on the faces and voices who embody the values the community believes in. For MMCP, in particular, participants hope to also be able to shed emphasis on tradition and culture, as well as the mixed heritage that make up who we are.
“It’s really something that brings together the Chinoy community,” commented Director Paolo Valenciano.
For this year’s batch of contestants, MMCP founder Wilson Agbayani advises, “To the modern Chinoy of Filipino-Chinese communities, I hope you will not forget our traditions — the heritage that was given [to us] by our grandparents and parents. I hope that the customs [and] the relationship between our two countries is always there. Remember the words ‘Chinese by blood, Filipino by heart.’”
“The qualities that make up a true Mr. and Ms. Chinatown is someone who embraces his/her uniqueness and individuality. Someone who stands up to be heard. Someone who embodies courage and intelligence to inspire others. Someone who encourages to live life the way you want it without compromising culture and their roots, thus making it known and more understandable for others,” wrote Eloisa Marcelo-Ramirez.
Likewise, Zhuang Yongzhong (莊永忠) commented, “The qualities of a true Mr. & Ms. Chinatown not only embodies the culture and traditions of both Filipino and Chinese heritages but also their values in life. One should be a role model for all — be it Filipino or Chinese, Philippines or China. Being a fighter of empowerment of life, one must bridge the gaps and connect both in a unity and synergy of peaceful co-existence and harmony. He or she carries the ideals of each and every one of us in society and to the world. Help the next generation build the foundation wherein our ancestors build on. Carry on with pride on both legacy in the 21st century. 加油 !”
Don’t miss the replay of this week’s episode of Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart this evening, October 16, at 6:30 PM. Catch the next episode on Sunday at 8 PM. Both episodes will air on CNN Philippines.