He entered the gym where we train Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, half-drunk smelling of liquor and with puffy eyes, one can readily notice spent several hours crying.
He’s been like this for the past few months, trying to get sober by punishing his body, that perhaps by doing so, he can forget about the pain in his heart.
He comes from what one would consider an upper-class family.
He studies in one of the most expensive schools in the country and drives expensive cars. He has rich and powerful friends; he also doesn’t speak much Tagalog but mostly English.
When asked about his predicament, he answered that his girlfriend’s family disapproved of their relationship and wanted them to break up.
For one simple reason, because he’s not Chinese.
She did break up with him.
She came from an upper-middle-class family, and she has a boyfriend whom she thought loves and care for her.
One day her boyfriend brought her to meet his mom.
His mom took a long look at her and told him, “I approve of this relationship, only because I know that it isn’t serious at all.”
Looking perplexed, she looks at her boyfriend, and the boyfriend, as if knowing what she’s thinking, gave her a look that he will talk about it with her later.
When they had a chance to talk, she confronted her boyfriend and asked what her mom meant.
The boyfriend affirmed it and said that she thinks that their relationship is not supposed to be serious because she’s not Chinese, and she wants her son to marry a Chinese woman.
To which she asked, “So do you agree and believe it? That I am just a passing phase for you, and nothing will come out of this relationship?”
Her boyfriend didn’t answer right away and just smiled at her.
She asked again, to no avail.
And because the guy does not give her a straight answer, they eventually separated.
He loved her and considered her as her soulmate.
For him, they compliment each other and can make for a good husband and wife.
He envisioned himself as living a happily married life with her.
He is a wealthy steel magnate son, and his mother being the firstborn amongst her other brothers, wanted her son to marry a rich Chinese lady.
His mom threatened him that if he doesn’t separate from his Filipina girlfriend, she will have him sent to China.
He never wanted to separate from her, but she said that he is still their son and that she cannot imagine having him hate his parents, especially his mother, who only wants the best for him.
She decided to say goodbye and separated from him.
He ended up trying to take his own life, becoming depressed, an alcoholic, ended up being married to a Chinese woman and having a kid. Unfortunately, he philandered.
Last I heard, he is morbidly obese.
Her mother is Filipina, and her father is Chinese.
She recounts how the family of her father would mistreat her mother.
She knows the reason why and her father’s family does not hide it either.
It is because her mother is not Chinese.
She talked about how she pities her mother a lot as she watches her cry and suffers under her in-laws.
We became an item, and I once visited her home.
We were staying on their veranda when her Grandmother arrived.
Upon opening the gate, she looked at me, unsmiling she talked to me in Mandarin.
I don’t know how to reply, so my girlfriend replied to me.
Her Grandmother, still unsmiling, just looked at me and then went inside.
I asked her what her Grandmother said.
“She was asking if you’re Chinese.”
“What did you tell her?”
“I said that you’re 1/4 Chinese.”
In all honesty, I have no idea if I am in any way Chinese. The fact that she had to make up something without asking me made me feel unsure about what was happening and how we should move forward about the entire experience.
I was never invited to her home afterward, the relationship floundered, and we separated.
All her life, she’s used her Filipino surname, but everything about her and her dad’s features screams of coming from Chinese descent. Her mom is a Filipina, whom his father deeply loved along with her sibling.
One day they went as a family to awake.
She noticed that the signs on the wall were written in Chinese letters; she thought it was interesting.
Until an elderly Chinese woman walked over to her, sobbing, and hugged her tight.
This was the first time she saw the old lady; her parents just observed them and went to the coffin.
The old lady continued hugging her and afterward led her to the coffin to join her parents.
Questions swam in her head that she couldn’t wait to ask her father about the entire thing, but she can’t find the strength to do so because of the atmosphere they are under. As if every eye in the room full of Chinese people is on them.
Her father told the story to them after.
The one who died is her Grandfather, and his dad was estranged from the family when he decided to marry
her mom. His Grandfather was very wealthy, but he chose to earn his living without any help from his family.
The rift was so deep he even changed his last name, and he lost touch with his family and was only contacted back when his father died.
I wrote everything above because I feel a big elephant in the country that nobody wants to talk about. Because of the lack of any serious study, one is fast to push aside such stories as just being a minority despite acknowledging that discrimination exists.
Yes, discrimination exists between Chinese-Filipinos and Filipinos. And no matter how one tries to explain them away, these “minor” things compound over time and eventually become the norm.
These things also exist between religions (Ex: Iglesia Ni Cristo not allowing people of other faith from marrying with their members or Muslims not allowing Christians from marrying into their family)
And even among Filipinos (Ex: Discrimination against other people from other parts of the country, to skin color, height, and facial features)
The real question perhaps is to ask how the majority treats this phenomenon of discrimination, but more so of the stereotypes.
This issue becomes more pronounced along the lines of the fiasco of ABS-CBN allowing the Chinese News TV, whose aim is to promote Beijing’s One Belt One Road advocacy and was subsequently pulled out by ABS-CBN after much public outcry.
Consequently, public opinion is split on the airing of Chinese News TV, one side accusing the other of being racists because of their opposition to Chinese News TV’s use of ABS-CBN’s airtime with fears of it being used as a propaganda tool, while the other views the move by ABS-CBN as contradicting being that it was only a few days ago that one of their journalists was harassed by a Chinese missile boat while covering news in the country’s waters.
The entire hullabaloo opened up new discourses and conversations as to what constitutes discrimination and racism.
A few exciting observations come to light.
A friend of mine once exclaimed that everybody’s racist and everyone is biased.
When asked to explain, he answered that everyone would instead lookout for people they are familiar with and feel comfortable being around.
He has a point, although he might’ve misconstrued racism with prejudice.
However, the more important question to consider is the question of the “trade-off.”
What does one sacrifice by being prejudice?
An example of prejudice is when the Chinese, choosing to marry their fellow Chinese.
This might look prejudicial from the outside; however, marrying for the Chinese is as simple as giving one’s daughter to the husband or vice-versa.
It also means giving everything that the family worked for to the future of their children.
This bias also applies to the compounding of wealth for both families.
The ultimate goal is to save wealth for the future and have a trusted son or daughter-in-law to rely upon and take care of them when they grow old.
It is also not a secret that Filial Piety, a practice highly ingrained in Chinese culture, is of utter importance when choosing a partner for their children.
And what better way than to choose from the same group of people who shares the same values.
For the outsider, it doesn’t make sense. Still, for a group of people who have experienced myriads of wars and famines and communism, survival frequently demands sacrifices, even at the expense of a descendant’s free will.
The same goes for religion, and for lack of familiarity with other cultures and values, one is quick to judge rather than immerse oneself in understanding such behaviors.
Take, for example, the entire practice of giving dowries in Muslim families or the tradition of celebrating a wedding for three days or sometimes more in other Filipino cultures.
Prejudice, as one can infer from the above examples, can also mean the values each person in a particular culture finds essential. One is willing to sacrifice other outcomes that could be beneficial to society.
But is the Chinese News TV issue a case of racism and xenophobia as some of its supporters are trying to paint by calling themselves victims?
Or are the terms used as a ploy to silence valid grievances and criticisms to exploit the Filipino people?
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