Chinoys have been around in the Philippines for quite some time now, but there’s still no denying the impressions some Filipinos may have towards them. A sizeable chunk of DLSU-Manila’s student population actually comprises of Chinoys. As a member of that chunk myself, I’ve been asked some pretty strange questions regarding my lineage, heritage, and culture, to which many fellow Chinoys can relate. Here are some statements, questions, and assumptions that we get on a rather frequent basis, and that we’re getting quite tired of hearing:
“You must be really rich.”
There is nothing more uncomfortable for some of us than to discuss, or have others discuss, our financial status. We may share similar-sounding names with the likes of Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, or John Gokongwei, but no one ever got wealthy by association alone. Chinoys still place a heavy emphasis on hard work and earning your place, despite false beliefs that we all have enough money to just “buy our way anywhere.”
“I bet you’re really good at Math.”
Just because our forefathers invented the abacus, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have a genius-level aptitude for Math. In fact, a lot of us do better in other subjects, and several of us can also be creatively inclined. Chinoys love all kinds of things, and we’ve absorbed more of Filipino culture than others tend to believe.
When being introduced to another person: “This is my friend. He/She’s Chinese.”
Why our being Chinese has to be mentioned in every introduction simply baffles us. Is it because we’re seen as “exotic”? While we’re proud of our heritage, our Chinese blood isn’t exactly a personality-defining characteristic that has to be mentioned at every opportunity.
When wearing a red shirt: “Oh! Is it someone’s birthday?”
While it is a custom for us to wear red—considered to be an auspicious color—when celebrating birthdays (especially when it comes to those of our grandparents), it’s not the only occasion wherein we wear red. Some of us just simply like the color and find it flattering. Red is a fun, passionate color, and that’s how most of us tend to see it nowadays, instead of just a good luck birthday charm.
“Are you Buddhist?”
Maybe seeing images of a fat Laughing Buddha when visiting a Chinoy’s home or some store in Binondo established that thought, but most Chinoys today have actually adopted the Catholic faith. Some have even incorporated Taoist practices into their Catholic faith, like lighting purple incense sticks in front of a cross. This might look weird to some of the more traditional Catholicts, but trust us—we’re not being sacrilegious in any way, but we’re simply doing it in remembrance of our traditions and our ancestors. The Laughing Buddha so often seen in various Chinese establishments is actually considered a representation of prosperity and contentment, and not necessarily a testament to our religious beliefs. Obviously, having a Laughing Buddha doesn’t mean there’ll be a magical wave of 1000-peso bills, but the image is a rather nice reminder of enjoying the small, good things in life.
“Do you eat with chopsticks at home?”
There’s no denying that Chinoys know how to use chopsticks, but that doesn’t mean that’s all we know as well. We know how to use spoons and forks too—in fact, it’s a little known fact that it was the Chinese who actually invented the spoon way back when.
Most Chinoys, despite our lineage, are actually very proud to say that we’re born and bred in the Philippines. There is a reason why we’re called Chinoys, and are the only ones in the world to acknowledge ourselves thus. Our adaptation into Filipino culture shows just how much we love and appreciate our country… and we would not have it any other way.