As the younger and more diverse Chinoy population reaches adulthood, dramatic differences between its thoughts, values, and attitudes on different issues like career, business, love, and even language sometimes develop. These disparities sometimes lead to confrontations between younger and older generations. However, it is critical to understand how each side thinks so that a compromise or common ground may be found and stronger connections can be developed. With that being said, I have interviewed three Chinoys from the younger generation to learn about their perspectives and how they think they differ from their parents or grandparents.
There is no pressure for the younger generations to choose a certain career path, despite their differences from the older generations’ values and views towards careers. Instead, they try to find a common ground that would make both generations happy.
As each generation is more progressive than the previous one, the 20-something dreams of meaningful and flexible employment have gotten increasingly evident with each successive cohort. This is especially true for many Generation Z Chinoys, many of whom joined the workforce during the period of remote employment. Based on their economic experiences, Chinoy Millennials and Gen Z approached similar desires differently: graduating made millennials less inclined to ask for what they wanted because they just felt lucky to have a job, whereas graduating into the pandemic empowered Gen Z to make autonomous demands. When Gen Z is not working for an employer who is willing to accommodate their needs, they have no trouble seeking another job. From this, it’s clear that there is another generational change at work here: Chinoy Millennials generally see their job as important to their identity, but Generation Z sees meaningful employment as only one aspect of who they are.
Meanwhile, position, rewards, and status inspire the older generations to work exceedingly hard. The older generations like extended work weeks and identify themselves through their professional achievements. This workaholic generation feels that the younger generations should pay their dues and submit to an overworked culture since they sacrificed so much to achieve where they are in their careers. The older generations may blame younger generations for a lack of work ethic and dedication to their jobs. As the older generations associate job and rank with self-worth, they are fiercely competitive at work. They are astute, resourceful, and competitive. The older generations believe in hierarchy and rankism and may struggle to adjust to workplace flexibility trends. They value “face time” in the office and may be critical of newer generations that work remotely.
In addition, unlike the older generations, the younger generations tend to pursue things that they are passionate about, they often think about the “why” of everything that they do and they often bring their values to the workplace. Although Chinoy parents do not push their children toward a certain career path nowadays, they tend to help guide them and find a compromise between both perspectives toward career.
Dana Tee Ten, a Communication Technology Management student at The Ateneo de Manila University, noted this: “My grandparents never even went to college as they were either expected to become housewives or expected to take over the family business. They weren’t able to explore what they are truly passionate about as they never had any extracurriculars. However, they never really forced me to take up a certain path but they did discourage me from taking up certain career paths that I was interested in such as writing and filmmaking–as they feared that there would be no future for me in this career path. Instead, they guided me into taking a course that would somehow incorporate what I wanted to take which is writing and the arts while also ensuring that I had a business background. I never had any conflicts with my parents regarding my career as I acknowledge that certain industries such as the arts aren’t as dominant in the PH which means that it would be harder for me in the future to get a decent salary.”
Ralph Liong, an Architecture student at University of Santo Tomas, had a similar experience as well. He said: “Based on my experiences, chinoys in my generation are given more freedom to choose their futures than older generations. Sure, our families definitely still prefer businesses over other careers, and there is still a stigma toward not being doctors, engineers, lawyers, and professionals alike. It’s still normal for our parents to encourage us to take up one of those choices by expressing how proud they are of us. They would sometimes also brag to their friends along the lines of “my son will be a doctor in the future” which pressures us to live up to their expectations even more. But I believe that they’re starting to understand that earning a high income is no longer limited to those. With that being said, I think they don’t really mind whichever path we eventually end up choosing as long as we make a relatively high income. However, this is just based on my personal experiences and what I see from the people I surround myself with. I also know one or two friends who come from an exceedingly known company, and they are forced by their parents to work for that company and eventually take over it.”
Unlike the older generations, tech-savvy younger generations are able to adapt easily to the changing market demands and often utilize social media to start or promote their business.
The corporate world is changing at a dizzying pace, and young people are fueling that rapid transformation. The younger generations, in particular, are set to alter the corporate landscape in a variety of ways. For starters, young people are lured to gig work, making them choose full-time gigs over regular jobs. Gig employment appeals to the younger generations for a variety of reasons, including scheduling flexibility and the potential to be their ‘own boss’. The gig economy also eliminates the need for in-person interviews, which can be difficult for introverts or individuals with fluid or complicated gender identities. Nonetheless, the younger generations, specifically Generation Z, are among the most outgoing generation, as well as creative, enthusiastic, market-savvy, media-focused, and entrepreneurial—and these are among the characteristics that the younger generations will bring to the corporate world.
The younger generations also put a high pedestal on values, morals, and social impact, which is what they like to implement when starting a business. Moreover, the younger generations are not just varied in terms of race, ethnicity, and culture; they are also digitally proficient. For young people, communication is essential, and many prefer the convenience of distant communication, such as texting, over in-person talks. This reflects in the younger generations’ inclination to start digital businesses, have remote work, and utilize social media to further promote their products or services. Unlike the older generations, they are also noted to be more risk takers and can easily adapt to change as they are used to the ever-changing economy and interests of consumers. The older generations focus more on starting a business that is traditional, practical, reliable, predictable, and more consistent. This means that they prefer running “in-person” businesses to the younger generations.
Dana states that she believes she is more willing to take risks when it comes to business compared to her parents. She adds that she is “more willing to observe trends and possibly start a business based on what’s currently trending. My parents on the other hand would rather start a business that is more traditional and reliable. Some similarities include being frugal, having the mindset of supply sourcing, and creating and forming connections that can help the business grow.”
Kyle Liong, a motoring journalist and an AB Diplomacy and International Relations graduate of The Ateneo de Manila University, also elaborated on what the older generations consider a “real business” in comparison to the younger generations now. He notes, “I think the main difference between us is the idea that only a traditional manufacturing or trading business is a ‘real business.’ Being of a different generation, I am a lot more open to a digital business. I think that the days of a traditional business are coming to an end, and there’s a lot more money to be made in the online sphere, be it through running an online business, or the whole influencer career. With that said, we never really had a conflict. Just a different way of seeing things.”
The older generations are more traditional when it comes to their view of love and marriage. Although they have implemented the great wall on their children to preserve culture and tradition, their children would not want to do the same to theirs.
Although some members of previous generations avoided childbirth and marriage, no age group has been as easygoing about these milestones as Generation Z and Millennials. The younger generations are more realistic about the types of relationships they like. While older generations may have persisted in relationships to fit in the cultural norms (only dating other Chinoys), ‘make it work for the kids’, or to save face, many younger generations’ parents often have heavy conflicts with each other, providing a real-life lesson in relationship durability. As such, majority of the younger generations believe they are “dedicated to being committed,” despite the fact that they are well aware that relationships come and go. Just as the younger generations isn’t static, regularly moving places, changing their style, and changing occupations, they don’t expect their relationship to remain either. When they are ready for a relationship, they often look for someone who shares their beliefs and not settle for less.
The older Chinoy generations are more strict toward only dating other Chinoys, hence the great wall, to preserve culture and tradition. However, the younger generations are more relaxed toward that and want their future children to “love who they want to love”, as long as they remain respectful toward their culture.
Dana said this when asked about her perspective about love and having “the great wall”: “I do have the great wall and personally it works out for me because my type is also Chinese men. As someone who likes and enjoys Chinese culture and entertainment, I am looking for someone who can enjoy it with me as well. In the future, I would allow my children to date whoever they want regardless of race as long as they share the same values as us and as long as they are willing to learn and appreciate the Chinese culture.”
Kyle also commented this: “I think marriage should be about compatibility which only you yourself can determine for yourself. Socio-economic class and status, and most importantly, differences in the ethnic background shouldn’t be a hindrance to any couples in these times. Yes, the great wall exists for some members of the family, but I just follow my heart and mind, and while I respect their opinions about things, I choose to simply take them as advice, instead of law. As such, I have no plans of implementing the great wall on my future kids.”
Ralph shares that he understands why the great wall exists in the first place. However, he also shares the same sentiments with the other interviewees: “For me, marriage is just all about finding someone you truly love regardless of where they come from. However, I somehow do understand where they’re coming from with their idealogy. Having a partner who shares the same race makes it easier for them and their families to understand one another since they practice the same beliefs and traditions. I also heard somewhere that, historically, Chinese people were not respected that much by the Filipinos in the past. This could have contributed to our ancestors despising Filipinos, and this thinking was passed down from generation to generation. Although, despite these reasons, I don’t think I would set a ‘great wall’ for my children in the future. I’d honestly prefer it if their future partners would be similar to us since we would be able to connect more, but I don’t really care if they won’t be as long as they’re respectful and kind.”
In addition, unlike the older generations who often have “getting married” as one of their top priorities, the younger generation believes that financial freedom comes first, followed by love. Chinoy Gen Z and Millennials often prefer successful professions and property ownership before weddings and marriage.
Both generations agree with the usefulness of Mandarin for career and business. However, they still want to continue teaching future generations Hokkien to preserve their culture.
Chinoys with Hokkien ancestry primarily have ancestors from Southern Fujian and typically speak or at least have Philippine Hokkien as a heritage language. The older generations are still fluent and actively use it with other Chinoys. However, as Mandarin becomes the common language of the Chinese population, the decline in the usage of Hokkien among the younger generations is unavoidable. Unfortunately, some Chinese parents nowadays would not dare to bother their children with learning a dialect or language that has little economic significance in the world.
Despite this, both young and old generations value it very much and plan to continue teaching their children the language as they believe that when they lose Hokkien, they lose more than simply their language. Their entire culture is lost, including customs, myths, tales, and songs. They will try to find a balance in teaching Hokkien and Mandarin to preserve their culture and improve their chances of success when it comes to career and business opportunities.
Dana even commented this: “I think Hokkien is important to learn as it is the language of our distant ancestors but I personally think that learning Mandarin is just as important as well as it can help not only in business and career but also can help in appreciating the Chinese arts and entertainment. I plan to teach my children these languages as well but honestly speaking it would be hard for me to pass on the Hokkien language as most Gen Z’s do not speak it nowadays–meaning it would be hard to find a partner who speaks it fluently as well. I also plan to enroll my children in Chinese schools so that they may learn mandarin as well.”
Kyle also agrees with Dana’s sentiments. He states, “Almost everyone in the family is fluent in Hokkien. We converse in Hokkien often together with Filipino. I do plan to continue teaching Hokkien to my future kids. Mandarin is probably more important only if one has any plans of doing business with or working for companies that are part of the Mandarin-speaking community. This oftentimes is the profitable and pragmatic route, and also pays more, however, for the most part, I think the yearning for a sense of belonging inside the Chinoy community is still, and would always be focused on Hokkien. It’s yours to decide which you value more.”
At the core of it all, it’s important to remember that despite the differences in perspectives and values, both generations are simply doing what they believe is best for themselves and their children. This is simply based on how they were raised and the environment that they grew up in. However, this shouldn’t act as a barrier between the young and old Chinoy generations but instead as a way to promote better communication and a deeper understanding of each other.