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Why Chinese-Filipinos are Both Chinese AND Filipino (Not Just One or the Other)

A young Chinese-Filipino named Mark was on his first day of college. He had the intent of being the “dream Chinese son” his parents always wanted him to be.

Mark occupied himself with his studies and, well, naturally, he had no interest in getting into a relationship anytime soon. “Girls,” he thought. “Who needs ‘em!” Dinner dates? Ako pa magbabayad niyan! Love? Uhm, no.. Or so he thought.

One day, Mark met up with a girl named Sophie to work on a pair work project for their class. She was cute, charming, and charismatic.

Without even realizing it, sweat rolled down his head and he found himself not being able to write properly. As he continued working, he’d unconsciously glance a quick look at Sophie. He had a crush on her! (Awww!)

The once relationship-disdaining Mark decided to take the leap of faith and ask Sophie on a date, and he did! He met up with her privately, gave her a red rose, and asked! (Sana all!)

With a smile on her face, Sophie said: “Thanks for being so brave and asking me personally! Honestly though, I’d prefer dating someone who is Filipino too cause we’d share more traditions in common.” (Ay..)

Image from Pixabay

So.. Chinese-Filipinos. Are they Chinese or are they Filipino? This is something that many have pondered, and it has, at times, led people to wonder whether they’d side with the Philippines or China should conflict between the countries arise.

However, most people who are actually Chinese-Filipino recognize, consciously or unconsciously, that they are BOTH. Some are ethnically Chinese and some are already products of intermarriages, but no matter which they fall under, Chinese-Filipinos are unequivocally Filipino by heart. The fact that many youngsters abhor government corruption proves that they want to see the Philippines at its best.

What’s equally amazing is that Chinese-Filipinos have been integrated into Philippine society in so many different ways, owing to the fact that they’re widespread across the country.

We’ve more than once heard, for example, of the so-called “Greenhills Chinese”. Very generally speaking, they are Chinese-Filipinos who live around the San Juan City or New Manila area, who frequent Greenhills Shopping Center or Robinsons Magnolia, and who study in either Xavier School or the Immaculate Conception Academy.

We’ve also more than once heard of the “Manila Chinese”. Again, very generally speaking, they are known to speak Minnan and Tagalog more often as compared to their Greenhills counterparts, who tend to speak English or Taglish. They live within the city of Manila in areas like Binondo and others.

Equally unique is the integration of Chinese-Filipinos outside Metro Manila, who speak entirely different languages altogether!

The Chinese-Filipino community in Cebu and Bohol, for example, speak Cebuano besides their native Minnan. The community is rather large, and, like the community in Metro Manila, many are baptized Catholics. In fact, the current Bishop of the Diocese of Tagbilaran in Bohol, Bp. Alberto Uy, is himself a Chinese-Filipino.

Not only that, former Archbishop of Manila Cdl. Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, who was recently promoted as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, one of the highest offices in the Church, is himself Chinese-Filipino, too. We see, therefore, an example of how they have been integrated into every aspect of Philippine life.

Cdl. Tagle presiding over the Ordination of a Bishop (Image from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines)

But back to Cebuano-speaking Chinese-Filipino communities because Cebu and Bohol aren’t alone—the community in Cagayan de Oro speak Cebuano as well! According to Kaitlyn Tan, who’s from CDO and is a Diplomacy and International Relations major in the Ateneo de Manila University, the community there practices Chinese traditions such as Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese New Year, just like the Metro Manila and Cebu communities.

On the other hand, the Chinese-Filipino community in Quezon province generally do not, according to Nicole Sia, who’s from Quezon and is a Biology major in the same university. “They mainly adhere to traditions that have to do with how Chinese families should act and not necessarily what they celebrate,” Nicole observed. These include “not going out too much, not staying out too late, not having a boyfriend, studying well.”

This article isn’t exhaustive of all Chinese-Filipino communities in the country but what’s the point? The point is that all Chinese-Filipino communities are Chinese. Many practice Chinese traditions and/or they exhibit qualities that Chinese people generally pay attention to, such as the ones mentioned above.

BUT Chinese-Filipinos are also Filipino, and they show that part of their identity in so many unique ways.

Their Chinese identity is something no one can ever take away from them. Their Filipino identity is also something no one can ever take away from them. Chinese-Filipinos are Chinese by blood but undeniably, unquestionably, and unapologetically Filipino by heart. And this is something they should be proud of!


The author of this article: 

An accomplished young Chinese Filipino writer and media personality, Aaron S. Medina is associated with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program, the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, and CHiNOY TV. He has a passion for truth, justice, and Pokémon, too! Follow him on Facebook:

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