The Chinese Filipino Community has been part of the Philippine community since the early 1900’s. Philippines has become their home since the Spanish colonial era, which is, for many Chinese Filipino about 3 to 4 generations ago. Considering this fact, many Chinese Filipinos living in this country has been born and raised here, thus, making this country the only home they know of. There are about 1.5% Chinese Filipinos in the Philippine’s overall population count and many from these Chinese Filipinos can be found in Binondo or in what people fondly calls Chinatown. Tradition wise and in consideration, it is still a wonder how a child that grew up in a Chinese Filipino community would most likely maintain and follow the Chinese traditions, than that of the Filipino traditions around.Order now
“But it is a fact that despite being born and raised in the Philippines, a Filipino-Chinese or Tsinoy would always stick to their own, abhorring any proclivity or opportunity to mix their lives with any foreign culture. A testament to the strength of this would be the historical fact that, even after hundreds of years, generation after generation of Filipino Chinese have resisted the onslaught of western colonial influences that have swept the country. They have successfully retained their distinct Oriental lifestyles, beliefs, traditions and mores, in sharp contrast to the Pinoys, who gradually, even readily, embraced the new influences of Spain, America, and other Western civilizations.” (Lim, David Ernman. Rev. of Afraid to be Chinese, by Xin Mei. www.filipiniana.net/editorpick/index/13110412687277.)
Home is basically the place where family traditions can be found. Therefore understanding this is a big key to opening up a comprehension of the unwavering influences of old Chinese traditions in a Chinese Filipino family. At home, there are many factors that cultivate a child into the art of these traditions. I can personally say that the influences of the Chinese traditions start of with ones at home. How we were taught to eat, how we need to show respect to the guests and the elderlies, and how we speak in the Chinese language are basically the influences we find at home.
The traditional Chinese eating style, for example, is eating with soup as one of the main dishes in the table; this is followed by many Chinese Filipino families, and as for mannerisms – respect and immediate obedience are to be followed at home, especially an order from an elderly. This certain things are some of the few prominent examples followed in a Chinese Filipino’s home. As for the language, majority of the Chinese Filipinos living here knows Cantonese, because it is their lingua franca or their working language. It is the language spoken by their parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents to them, making them able to speak in this certain language from a young age. “At home, it is not that we don’t speak English or Filipino, but rather, we are accustomed to speaking in the native language of my grandparents which is Cantonese.” (Sison, Jerika. Personal Interview. 19 Sept. 2011.)
Family matters is the main principle of a Chinese family, it is with love and respect that this traditions has been passed on through generations, so it is not a question how Chinese traditions are passed through this. “My great grandmother, grandmother, aunt, uncles, and cousins, all live in the same house as us, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Though conflicts arises, I’m honored to be able to see the beginning of my lineage through my great grandmother as a Chinese Filipino, and I’m grateful for having this opportunity that taught me to follow the traditions of my ancestry.” (Shiu, Phoebe. Personal Interview. 18 Sept. 2011.) Attesting to that said by Phoebe Shiu in a personal interview, it is truly with the love and respect for family that the Chinese tradition of having 2- 4 generations under one roof still remain resolute through the years and in today’s Chinese Filipino community.
The hierarchy issues that Chinese are known for or rather the favoritism of male heirs and the depreciation of the female has long been gone. What men can do, women can also do. But it is still rather a desire for one family to have a son to pass on the family name and it is still the man who is the head of the household. A Chinese Filipino family follows this tradition, in the sense that the family business – because as it is known, Chinese Filipinos have been influential in the business field – would be passed down to the male heirs or to the eldest child in the family (as there is now equality), and that the family surname would live among the sons.
The foundation that school gives is also one of the influences why a child grows up with Chinese traditions than that of Filipino ones. The school is the second home of students, it is the place where they grow in intellect, in moral, and in friendship. Chinese Filipino parents mostly make sure that their child has the education that they need in order to learn Chinese. So many Chinese schools are filled with Chinese Filipino children learning the culture and the traditions of being Chinese from the first day of pre-school. Friendships are mostly formed with fellow Chinese Filipinos, considering the fact that Chinese schools are made up of about 98% Chinese Filipino children. In school, Mandarin Chinese is taught to the students in great lengths, for them to be able to read and write Chinese with fluency.
My experiences as a child from a Chinese Filipino family made me susceptible to all the influences of the Chinese traditions. The traditions I practice everyday at home is definitely different from outside. It was not unwelcoming, just strange. Especially now that I’m not in a Chinese school, and there is a mix of Filipinos and Chinese in Ateneo, I’ve come to really see the differences in the traditions I was raised in and that of others. Though there are some irrefutable similarities, it is still a whole lot different. When talking about traditions, mine stands out like a sore thumb, even when comparing about schools, mine is different. While in kindergarten, a child learns A, B, C’s and 1, 2, 3’s, whereas in my school or any other Chinese school for that matter, a child will not only be taught that, but also the equivalent of that A, B, C’s and 1,2,3’s in Chinese! These foundations of my youth gave way to my love for my Chinese Filipino culture. It paved the way for me to appreciate the strong Chinese traditions I live in and the uniqueness of my family’s tradition.
There are many factors that help influences a child to grow up with the Chinese traditions in mind. From home, family, and school, it is the upbringing of a child that truly cultivates him into certain Chinese traditions. These are the reasons why Chinese traditions are not by any means abstracted by the Filipino traditions around the country. Though it can’t be, by any means be questioned that there are some Filipino traditions that the Chinese Filipino families follow. It is also rather a fact that Chinese traditions are more prominent in their daily lives than that of Filipino. Generation after generation this traditions are passed, parent to child, teacher to student, and etc., it is the strength and loyalty of the older generations that made the unwavering continuity of the Chinese traditions able to be passed down to a child, without the outside influences of the dominating Filipino Society. These Chinese traditions are not just passed on to maintain the strength of it, but it is passed on, with the mentality of an heirloom to the generations that follow.