I love the color red. There’s something about the vibrant color that’s so calming, and for years I’ve always associated it with home and family. But now, it’s tainted. While it’s quite difficult nowadays to scroll through social media without getting offended at the atrocities happening around the world, I barely have the words to describe how it felt seeing the banner proclaiming the Philippines as a province of China. Some found the banners akin to treason. While others say that it’s satire meant to provoke the people into thinking about how, despite the Philippines winning against China over their territorial claims in the South China Sea two years ago, our government hasn’t done much to assert our rights to our land.
Last February 26, President Duterte joked that China could make the Philippines its province. When our own President flippantly disregards Philippine sovereignty and appears to be prioritizing China’s interest instead of our own, it isn’t a surprise that many don’t find the stunt funny at all despite it prodding at the state of Chinese-Filipino relations right now. Another thing to think about is how the Chinese phrase on the banners is literally lifted straight off Google Translate. I remember how my Chinese teacher used to get mad at us when we used Google Translate for our essays back in high school, but these people probably don’t have access to a stern Chinese grandmother grading your work.
By now, I should know better than to read the comments sections, but it was a lesson on how different perspectives can be and how far people will go to defend their opinions. One comment in particular caught my eye; someone asking how the Chinese-Filipino community feel about it. While I can’t speak for the entire community, I can speak for myself and my friends. It is a horribly distasteful stunt that not only turns a blind eye to the bullying our fishermen are experiencing in Philippine waters but it also disregards Philippine independence and sovereignty.
In my time sifting through the toxic pit of comments, I did find a few interesting gems. Many of them were disregarding the relevance of this issue and these comments suggested that it was better to keep our heads down and focus on our own lives. Personally, I find it difficult to be apathetic when the decisions being made are directly affecting the future of not only me but other people as well. While there are many who don’t consider Chinese-Filipinos as real Filipinos, it remains that for many of us there is no other home than this. The assumption that we would side with China couldn’t be farther from the truth. Hopefully, a time will come when people will stop being surprised when they find out that I think of the Philippines as my country first and foremost. I may not fit the expectations of what a Filipino should be but that won’t stop me from caring about the state the Philippines is in and wanting to do my part to help.