Growing up, I’ve only ever known a handful of Chinoy people who wanted to enter the entertainment industry.
When I told my parents of a Chinoy friend’s plans to pursue their dreams in cinema or theater, there was this common assumption that would pop out: Their family is rich. That person is not the first-born child. There was this idea that success was defined in business, and that only those who had already achieved that success would be qualified to try something as risky and experimental as the creative arts.
Watching the fifth episode of CHiNOY TV’s Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart has made me remember those conversations by shattering the expectations that have given birth to them. Aptly titled “The Road Less Traveled,” the episode features the experiences of Tim Yap, the “eventologist” who has defined himself again and again for his passions in entertainment; and Roselle Monteverde, the COO and Vice President of Regal Entertainment, one of the most recognized production companies in the country.
With Tim Yap and Roselle Monteverde’s voices taking the helm, the episode reveals in earnest the evolution that Chinoy representation in the entertainment industry has taken. Here is what viewers have taken away from it:
1. Don’t be afraid to pursue what makes you happy.
Right off the bat, Tim Yap, who had spent years as an actor, events host, entrepreneur, fashion icon, and more, revealed that one of the first barriers he had to face in entering the entertainment industry was the stereotypes that society had forced on Chinoys. Even his family knew that singkit eyes would already be a disadvantage on his part. He wouldn’t be able to live off this career.
But Tim strived to make it possible anyway. When he was still a student, he would sneak away on a jeepney to Shangri-la after the last period of class to participate in theatre performances in anyway that he could — whether that be actual performing, production, or PR management — then return back to school with his driver none the wiser of Tim’s daring excursions.
“The best lesson I’ve learned from Tim Yap is that, if you really want to achieve or be something, you will definitely find a way to do it. His story of taking a jeepney just to attend theater is very inspiring for me. […] Tim Yap taught us to not be afraid to follow what makes us happy. We should make way for our lives to be and see it unfold right in front of our eyes,” commented Facebook user Arvin Hay Enciso.
In another comment, Elinda Tabuzo also said, “Tim Yap’s story inspired me to work hard. ‘I always work hard to succeed.’ He would take the jeepney from Mendiola to Shangri-la to do theatre until he achieved being in front of the newspaper! How awesome is that? This just proves that no matter what we perceive, we will achieve if we work hard for it. You are worth the successes that come through the challenges. Life isn’t going to be easy, but it’s a gift that’s completely worth it.”
2. Be both disciplined and passionate about the things you love.
Roselle Monteverde credits her mother Lily Monteverde’s passion and sense of discipline to get to where she is today. Having learned that time shouldn’t be wasted, Roselle recalls that her childhood memories would be filled with extracurricular classes that would fill the weekend. In hindsight, she recognizes that it was with that same passion for doing something worthwhile that opened the first doors to the representation of Chinoy stories in popular media.
“[My mother] always tells us that because of her passion, she would even skip school to watch shooting in Quezon City, where Sampaguita Studios used to be. So because of that it really inspired her more to be into productions. And you know she’d always say: ‘I really wanted to be an actress but I don’t have the looks, so I might as well produce movies and be around beautiful people,’” Moteverde shared.
It was when Roselle became more involved in Regal Entertainment that Lily informed her of her plans to produce a Filipino-Chinese movie. That’s how the Mano Po series came to be.
“And I said really? I’m not sure because I really don’t know whether the Chinese community would like to go to the cinema and watch that, even the Filipino community would like to go to the cinema and watch that. But of course, what mother wants mother gets,” Monteverde states.
“Hearing Roselle’s story is also motivating! She instilled [in] us the value of time and discipline. Aside from being an empowered woman, I admire how she talks about her mom being her inspiration and drive to be the best version of herself. She has achieved a lot, from producing films and TV shows, and for me, that is something noteworthy. This inspired me to pursue my passion in films too. While watching the video, I was literally telling myself, “I want to be like her—an achiever!” wrote Abigail Tabuzo.
Rosalle Alcantara commented: “As for Roselle Monteverde, I was inspired [by] how she narrated her story. She embraced the Chinoy life and became successful just like her mom. She inspired me to do greater in life, to achieve more, and to love what I do in order to be successful. Such an empowered and inspirational woman of today!”
“Roselle Monteverde’s story is a dose of motivation for me too,” remarked Erlinda Tabuzo.
“As a mom and a woman, I saw how she made her mom a model of success and how she followed in her footsteps until she became successful in her field too. I’m a fan of [the] “Mano Po” movie and I say it’s one of the best films ever! Through it, we understood Chinoy life and appreciated it. Roselle indeed inspired me to be proud as a woman. That we can do greater things. She is passionate [about] whatever she does and this defines a strong woman that I aspire to become.”
3. Be open-minded. You are more than a stereotype.
Both Tim Yap and Roselle Monteverde have revealed that Chinoys were not typically expected to thrive in the entertainment industry. But times are now changing.
“Before, if your last name was like one syllable, they had to change it to make it sound not so Chinese, you know. So that’s why people call me Tim Yap because just ‘Tim’ is so short and just ‘Yap’ is so short. So Tim Yap is long enough,” Tim explained. “But now, you can hear all these Chinese last names like ‘Go’ or ‘Chua’ and more Chinoys who are more singkit than me.”
In the past, Monteverde also described how the Filipino-Chinese Mano Po movies would cast Filipino actors to play Chinoy parts because they were the names who would bring in the audience. Now, however, Monteverde sees a brighter and more inclusive future: “To think of a future for Mano Po, there were ideas that we would audition real Chinoys to play the part to give voices, the real voices of real Chinoys. In a way, they will feel the part [or] the character because it’s closer to who they are.”
Angeli Hermidilla wrote, “The episode was very inspiring, diversity really doesn’t separate us, but instead, it becomes the bridge for us to come together as one despite our race, ethnicity, and nationality.”
“For me, being open-minded is always at the top of the list when it comes to traits and habits you need to acquire to be a happy person. You need to be able to stretch your thoughts, knowledge, and ideas beyond any self-constructed boundary. Open-mindedness is critical to job success and open-minded people don’t care to be right, everything is about understanding. The ability to think of things from various angles and viewpoints allows them to accept more,” commented Roselyn Maglente.
“We have to stand up for what we believe in, even when we might not be popular for it,” concluded Ron Ecliva. “Honesty starts with being ourselves, authentic and true to who we are and what we believe in, and that may not always be popular, but it will always let you follow your dreams and your heart.
Don’t miss the replay of this week’s episode of Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart this evening, September 11, at 6:30 PM. Catch the next episode on Stan Sy on Sunday at 8 PM. Both episodes will air on CNN Philippines.