Spectrum of Chinoy

It’s funny how we in the Chinoy community classify ourselves. It gets brought up a lot among me and my non-GH (Greenhills) friends. 

There are the Manila Chinoys who are pretty different from the San Juan/GH Chinoys, and then there are those that differentiate by how much Chinese blood you have in you, or how traditional or non-traditional you are. 

My dad and his sibling were brought up in a pretty traditional Chinese household, at least according to their stories. My mom, on the other hand, was not as traditional. Perhaps it’s because she was the youngest of 10 children and was raised more by her older siblings than her parents. She was not as fluent in the Chinese language, but she was still Chinoy. 

Now, I compare myself and my siblings to our cousins on my father’s side, and we are so different. My siblings and I have little to no knowledge of important Chinese dates and traditions, having to constantly be reminded of things by our parents, whereas our cousins are right on top of any preparations that need to be done on the date, and even prior to it. They can speak Chinese fluently, while we can maybe ask you how much that mango you’re selling costs… and even that conversation is a struggle. But despite the differences, we’re all still Chinoy.

I have a few friends that have barely any Chinese blood left in their family line, but know more about the traditions and practices than I do. They can rattle off Chinese factoids and some of the most influential leaders and contributions from Ancient China while my eyes glaze over. I also do have friends whose knowledge of anything Chinese is confined to their familiarity with Chinese food and recipes. Does this make one more Chinoy than the other?

How do we classify Chinoy exactly? Does even .01% of Chinese blood make you Chinoy? Can your Chinoy “title” be revoked by the community? And does my non-traditional lifestyle and mentality make me any less Chinoy? More importantly, does the label of ‘Chinoy’ even matter? 

I mean, at the end of the day, we’re all Filipinos. We just so happen to have a little bit of Chinese heritage running through our veins. We suffer and succeed alongside our Filipino kababayans, so why are some people so hung up on Chinoy-ness and the exclusivity of it?

Being Chinoy simply means we share a common culture and experiences. Maybe not all of our circumstances are exactly alike, but they’re similar. Our Chinese-ness ingrains in us a certain amount of determination and steeliness, while the Filipino in us keeps us optimistic and resilient no matter what the circumstances. We, as Chinoys are going through the same pandemic, the same struggles with our mental health, the same frustrations at our government.

With everything happening right now, it’s nice to know you’re part of a community. Knowing there are people that understand the uniqueness of the Chinoy experience is comforting, but that doesn’t mean it’s such a departure from the experience of the everyday Filipino.

Our being Chinoy is not a personal achievement or accomplishment, so there’s no need to gatekeep the title. I think if someone wants to claim and celebrate their Chinese heritage, no matter how much or how little Chinese blood they have in them, we should let them. Celebrate the union of Chinese and Filipino cultures!

Leave a Reply