Continued from Part 1
Call-time was 7:00 A.M.
A new day begins with an early start. All I could think of was how excited I was.
What a time to be alive, to leave the house for a chance to chase after a story. Going to work and seeing the interviews firsthand was undoubtedly a one-of-a-kind event. As though it were like attending a live concert and wondering what would happen next. I was giddy with anticipation as I booked my cab to our first site, Bahay Tsinoy in Intramuros, to begin my work as an assistant writer.
Arriving at the Bahay Tsinoy, the place was empty besides the Chinoy TV staff and crew setting up. Working with a diverse group of Chinese and Filipino experts required us to be adaptable. We keep to a strict timetable, and the most significant part is that we can quickly devise a contingency plan if things don’t go as planned.
I spotted Mr. Alvin Tan and Director Mike Carandang and approached them to say hello. It was the first and only time I had met them in person. They were talking about Ms. Teresita Ang See, our first speaker. I’d heard a lot about her, and this is my first time seeing her in person as well. Ms. See greeted us with a smile as she entered the room. She is a sophisticated and intelligent woman, in my opinion. We chatted for a bit, and honestly, I felt connected to her. Being in the same room as she made me feel as though I were near my amah. Perhaps our shared Chinoy beliefs and experiences made us feel more comfortable in one another’s company. During the interview, she mainly shared about the lives of Chinoys when they first migrated to the Philippines. A part of me also hoped there had been more Chinoys with me at the time, so they could hear personally about the trials and obstacles our great-grandparents had endured before arriving in the Philippines.
Time check, it’s 10:30 A.M.
Wrapping up with an early lunch break before traveling to our second destination, the cinemas, for Ms. Roselle ental Monteverde’s interview. When we arrived, the cinema was empty, with no trace of anyone having been here since the pandemic began. I couldn’t recall the last time I went to the movies. With this new normal, I don’t think I had ever stepped foot in one until just now.
Ms. Monteverde was a very gentle and calming lady. She greeted us very warmly. During the interview, I admired how much Ms. Monteverde spoke with passion for the movies. Her eyes twinkle as she recounts how she used to spend the entire day just watching reruns of films from different genres. And most significantly how she shared a passion for the movie with her mother.
We headed onto our following site, the Podium, to shoot our next speaker, SM Supermall President Mr. Steven Tan. Surrounded by his staff and secretaries, Mr. Tan arrived as if watching a scene from those Men In Black movies. It was a little intimidating at first, but I have to admit Mr. Tan had this professional presence. During the interview, he emphasizes studying Hokkien and how it must be passed down to future generations. I was taken aback by his words because I was not even fluent in the language. But, for the readers out there, I can’t stress enough how important Hokkien is, especially if one wants to advance in any profession. “It is the language and conversation of our people,” as Mr. Tan would say.
We then proceeded to our last destination, a bar in Makati, where we interviewed our final speaker for the day, Chef Sharwin Tee. There are a lot of ingredients coming in and out. Chef Sharwin was putting the finishing touches on his dishes in preparation for a culinary demonstration. The aroma of cooking filled the room, and everyone was in awe. Chef Tee talks about his passion for cuisine and culture during the interview. And how, despite people’s many differences, whether it be culture, ethnicity, or religion, food connects everyone to the same table. Food is the force that binds us all together in joy. He handed us his new book hoping that future generations will appreciate food and embrace it to unite people and cultures.
A wrap for the day.
Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned from these profilers is that everyone has their own personality. The diverse experiences of their Chinoy upbringing influenced their respective identities. Although we all may have different journeys and ways of looking at life, something shared keeps us bound as Chinese-Filipinos. I believe it is our shared ideals that bind us all together. And understanding that while each experience is unique, they are all valid to all of us.
Catch “1CH1NOY: Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart” only on CNN Philippines via Free TV Channel 9, Sky Cable Channel 14, Cignal Channel 10. It will also simultaneously air on CNN Philippines’ webpage www.cnnphilippines.com.