THESE are only some terms we grew up being called by our classmates, friends, neighbors and even strangers. There is this question of “societal-belongingness” in some way even if we all grew up in the country.
The Filipino diaspora revolves around those with ancestry located only in the Philippines, but how do we classify those that have come to like the Philippines and created family within the country but are originally from overseas?
Are they called Filipinos? Are they even classified as Filipinos?
Mainland Chinese see us as Filipinos, the Filipinos see us as Chinese. This creates a confusion of identity. We are Intsik, Tsekwa” to the Filipinos. We are Huana to the Chinese, all terms derogatory.
Intsik? Tsekwa? Chinoy? We prefer the term - Chinoy!
Chinese-Filipinos, most commonly called as Chinoys, assigned to Filipinos of Chinese heritage, started their history over 500 years ago in this country. Much like today’s economic landscape, it all started with trade and business.
Like everyone else, Chinoys share the passion for food, arts, pageantry, the value of hard work, time, relationship and filial piety.
We too, like to watch dramas; we also feel the same “kilig” when our favorite personalities are shown on TV; we sing and dance along our favorite OPMs; we munch with delight our favorite merienda—buchi, siopao, siomai, etc.
We all like to eat pancit, a noodle dish originally from China; We like our afternoon tea (tsaa) which is derived from the Chinese word cha.
Our assimilation to Filipino culture is undeniably strong, basing it on traits, habits and attitudes.
Today, people seem not to notice one’s heritage. They judge according to names and looks and often blame Chinoys for all the problems linked to China. They start asking our stand about the Scarborough Shoal, if the pandemic was a biological warfare, etc. I frequently read biases, misconceptions about Chinoys on every social media platform just because of our heritage. With this, Chinoys are in for a difficult spot.
But as they say, they are barking at the wrong tree.
In Baguio, Chinoy history flourished pre-WWII. The city harbored thousands of Chinese to build the great Kennon Road. Most of them came from Canton (now Guangdong) and Fujian Province (most people don’t know but a lot of them died during the construction. Some were brought home; some were buried on-site).
Some eventually married the locals. They put up their businesses. Some changed names to avoid prejudice and discrimination. And today, they are the city’s economic growers.
(In 2018, it is estimated that 20% of the Philippine population are of Filipino-Chinese ancestry).
Baguio - as the only city celebrating the Lunar New Year, famously called as the Chinese New Year, outside Metro Manila as a whole, institutionalized the celebration through Ordinance No. 18 series of 1999 as the Spring festival purposely to strengthen the bond between the Filipinos and Chinese who are living together in the city.
The bond between Filipinos and Chinoys in this mountain resort is always honored through different civic programs by the Baguio Filipino-Chinese Community. The community is always there to extend help by providing relief packs and cash donations during calamities.
On March 24, the community turned over P1.012 million-worth of relief goods and cash to Mayor Benjamin Magalong at the relief storage center at the PFVR Gymnasium.
On April 13, an additional 97 sacks of rice were distributed to barangays and indigent groups in Baguio, Tuba and Benguet.
Chinoy business owners also offered their hotel facilities for frontliners in the city.
Chinoys are also Filipinos. Chinoys will always have the heart to help our countrymen in times of crisis and will be of service willingly.
We are fortunate to have two cultures. Chinoys may not look like Filipinos, but we think and feel like Filipinos.