Racism from the Eyes of a Fil-Chi
6.29.2015| Posted by Alyssa C. |
I'm Fil-Chi, Tsinoy, half-Filipino, half-Chinese, and I love and respect my heritage and my ancestors. Sure, I may not fluently speak either language, but that does not mean I love my heritage any less. Sure, I might have been raised in a more Chinese background, but that does not mean I appreciate the Philippine culture less. Sure, I might not know what to call the aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins on the Chinese side, but that doen't mean I love them any less. Sure, I might get confused when distinguishing pochero from afritada from menudo, but that does not mean I like the food any less.
The problem with countries is that their fierce loyalty to themselves makes them possessive. I mean, I get that, but it does sometimes seem like an overkill. I remember when, as a child, I was told that when I turned 18, I would have to choose between the Philippines or China as my country of citizenship. Thankfully, that didn't have to happen because they changed the laws a few years later. To be honest, I would not have known what to choose. I love the the blood that flows in my veins—blood that is the stream that made two very different cultures meet. Try asking a person who has two heritages in their blood to explain it. We can't. We love both equally; there is simply no such thing as making us choose.
Not everyone understands that, though. For several of the Filipinos I have come across, it is an either-or; there cannot be "both". You cannot love both the Philippines and China, I have been told. I have even been asked to provide reason for the conflict between the Philippines and China on their dispute over the islands in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea. And I have been asked which side I take.
With the most recent University of the Philippines graduation trending as a hot topic in social media and other news sites these days, the question that has been appearing and reappearing over the past several years surfaces once more: are the Fil-Chi really Filipinos? Ultimately, what people are asking is: do those with any two or more cultures and heritages in their blood really belong anywhere at all?
As a Fil-Chi living in the Philippines, that question makes me angry because it is a question asked again and again by people who don't know anything better and don't have anything better to do than create and stir up issues. I remember the days when the Philippine Azkals were just starting out and we had a lot of players who were half Filipino and half another heritage. Crikey, how Twitter was such a hot spot then of debates—people defending the players versus people who thought there should be more full-blooded Filipinos on the team!
Don't tell me that the Philippines is one of the lease racist countries, because we're not. I have heard so many comments growing up that were unconsciously said, with the speaker probably never knowing that he or she was being racist. Recently, however, things have just gotten worse and the issue with Tiffany Grace Uy, a Fil-Chi getting one of the highest marks in the history of the University of the Philippines was the tipping point. Social media exploded between fans—who wondered how she could get near-perfect grades and still have a boyfriend—and bashers—those who said she had no right to be awarded summa cum laude from the University of the Philippines, which was a school that was supposed to help the poor, and because, simply because, she is Filipino-Chinese, and not purely Filipino. (And then there is that U.P. professor who said that it takes more than excelling in classes to get a grade, but that is another discussion for another time.)
Let me ask you: since when do we get to judge who is Filipino and who is not? If I remember correctly, there was an athlete granted Filipino citizenship during the FIBA just because we were so desperate to win, an athlete who later announced that he was proud to be Filipino...without even having stepped a foot into our country. I cannot speak for all, but if you compare him and the amount (or lack thereof) of time he has spent in the Philippines versus all the Filipino-Chinese and other bi-racial citizens in the Philippines, I think we know who the "real" Filipinos are—those who have worked blood, sweat, and tears to make this a better place.
It does not matter what language we speak, nor how we were brought up. You can speak all the dialects fluently, recite Panatang Makabayan backwards and forwards, and still not be a "real" Filipino. True, we may not know all the traditional folks songs of the Philippines and the other country that is part of our heritage, but we love both equally and strongly.
In the end, does it still matter what percentage of blood flows in your veins? Does it matter where you were born and raised up? I hope facts as petty as that don't influence another person as we see them serving in the Philippines every day. I hardly think the Constitution defines who the "real" Filipino is, and I hardly believe it can be the true basis for measuring someone's loyalty to the country. For all we know, you can have 99.9% Filipino blood flowing through your veins, but without love for your country and fellow citizens, without concern for the wellbeing of everyone, for the streets littered with trash and the corruption in the government, you cannot, in your heart of hearts, be truly Filipino.