Launching the #1CH1NOY campaign, CHiNOY TV unveils a new season that aims to spotlight modern Chinoys, which will soon air on CNN Philippines. Among these personalities who represent a modern take on Chinoy cultural values is Janeena Chan, a millennial Chinoy TV host, content creator, columnist, and podcaster.
At the tender age of seven, Janeena Chan launched her voice career by joining several singing competitions in the country. While most kids her age then would spend their time with toys, Janeena’s version of playtime was auditioning for contests and practicing her vocals.
At that time, the stage was the most beautiful playground for Janeena. Fast forward to today, she still embraces the stage as much as she did the first time she stepped on one—but now, it’s not just for singing, but also for hosting, modeling, and using her voice to influence and inspire people through her podcast dubbed “Rise Up with Janeena Chan.”
Describing her roots, Janeena shares that she’s already a fourth-generation Chinoy in her family. So, the 28-year-old host considers her family a fusion.
“Our family is a mix of both traditional and modern, but in terms of how we were raised, it’s similar to most families here in the Philippines,” Janeena tells CHiNOYTV, admitting that she came from a very supportive family. In fact, according to Janeena, she’s very grateful that her family supported her line of work in the entertainment scene, but she understands those Chinoy parents who guide their children into more traditional modes of work.
On career path
“A lot of Chinese families remain a bit more conservative in terms of that [career]. But I think it is coming from a place of love and protection more than anything. So, I’m very blessed to have both of that. My parents were both protective of me, making sure that I get into the industry as safe as possible but at the same time encouraging me to grow and encouraging me just to embrace that creative side,” Janeena explains.
To those in the position of choosing a different career path from what their parents want, Janeena advises them to make an arrangement. “They can say, ‘ma, pa, I have a safety net. Let me try this. But if it doesn’t work, then maybe we can meet halfway,'” Janeena cites as an example, understanding that not all parents show their support for their children in the same way.
For someone who made a name for herself in an industry dominated mainly by Filipinos, Janeena is an excellent example of a Chinoy who is unafraid to break barriers and destroy stereotypes. But, Janeena still hopes for more Chinoy representation, especially in the mainstream media in the coming years.
“It’s fascinating how I see that the community appreciates it whenever we are represented well in the media,” Janeena reveals about the rising Chinoy community in the entertainment scene. “I’m so excited that I have been seeing and hearing more from the community, especially in this age of globalization of the digital landscape. It’s even more empowering to put your talents out there, to share what you can.”
Janeena also wants to emphasize that Chinoys don’t have to be businessmen, tradesmen, salespeople, or corporate people during this modern age. “You can be more than that. You can even do more,” Janeena adds.
On Chinoy stereotypes
Even when Janeena proves to be successful in her career, she also had her fair share of Chinoy stereotypes being thrown at her.
“Growing up in the media industry, I was always called the “Chinita” girl. So that’s not exactly bad. But at the same time, I would only be for certain roles and certain occasions or certain projects,” Janeena reveals.
“And whenever I do get casted, they would emphasize it [Chinoy features] even more. Like they would literally add more eyeliner and make my lips redder. But like, I didn’t wake up with red lips and winged eyeliner. My eyes are already naturally in an almond shape,” she adds.
Because of these experiences in the past, Janeena hopes that there will be more rounded Chinoy representation and more content in the media on how modern Chinoys are. We don’t just randomly appear during Chinese New Year or the Moon Cake Festival. We’re here all year long,” Janeena says.
Admittedly, Janeena herself is a fan of pageants such as the renowned Mr. and Ms. Chinatown. According to her, the pageant has grown into such a beautiful celebration of Chinoy culture, heritage, and what it means to be a modern Filipino Chinese.
“More than anything, celebrating the values that got us to where we are today is what Mr. and Ms. Chinatown is all about. I really get so excited whenever I see many new candidates, a lot of new faces from different backgrounds. Some of their families are a bit more conservative. Some of their families are all out,” the pageant lover expounds.
Many people might not know that in 2016, Janeena faced the biggest personal battle she ever had to date when she was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. “It’s a condition wherein your nerves become weak, and then half of your face becomes paralyzed. So can you imagine I look like a broken doll, visually,” Janeena shares her unforgettable experience. “But it’s not just on a surface level that I look broken or paralyzed, but inside I also felt fragile like my strength was literally stripped away from me.”
For Janeena, it was a test of faith and courage, but during those trying times, she didn’t feel alone. “From the little details, like my doctor being called Dra. Magpantay. Literally, ipapantay ‘yung face ko [She will make my face even]. Wow, God really has, has a way with humor,” Janeena narrates happily. “I think God gave me that for a reason so I could share that experience to more people so that they may find light in that.”
On Chinoy values
When asked about the values that Janeena thinks should be passed down to future generations, Janeena gives three: love for community, holistic discipline, and innovative discipline.
She expounds, “First is love for the community. So, again it’s all about going beyond yourself and what you want, but you know, doing it for more reasons beyond yourself.”
“Second is a holistic discipline. Not just discipline and hard work, but it’s about working smart. Being disciplined not only in terms of career, of your checklists or goals but also in finances.”
“Third is innovative leadership. So, when you are a leader, you inspire people to think out of the box. And you also are creative with how you lead; it’s leading by example too. And being responsible for your actions.”
Without a doubt, Janeena sets the bar for the Chinoy community regarding how far you could go to reach your dreams. As per Janeena, your race, your skin, and your features don’t matter if you have a pure intention to soar high and reach your dreams.
So, at this point, where does Janeena Chan see herself in the coming years? Tune in to CNN Philippines every Saturday at 8 p.m. starting on August 8 to know more and discover other Chinoy personalities on the newest TV documentary program, “CHiNOY TV Presents: Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart.”
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