THE NICE thing with being Filipino is that often you are mistaken for being : Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, Taiwanese, Laotian, Burmese, Nepalese, Japanese and to some extent Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan.
In short, when you’re Pinoy, prepared to be perceived as Asian, in as many ways as possible. Ways here is actually to be read as hues, colors and races and any other marker of nationality, which doesn’t matter too much when you’re a Southeast Asian.
See the picture above? You might not be able to decipher the text, it says : “For sum (sic) Asian Man had to pop off sumwea (somewhere).”
Some Kiwis have a blind spot when it comes to discerning the different nationalities of Asians, for them a Pinoy might as well be a Cambodian, and a Papua New Guinean might as well be a Sri Lankan. It’s not their fault, just like it’s not our fault when, unless we’ve lived among them for ages, we can’t distinguish between Australians and New Zealanders, or for that matter between English, German, French, and other Middle Europeans (until they start talking).
But back to the note in the picture. I passed by the Salvation Army store jogging around the block, and saw a few toys that would look quite good in my collection. I couldn’t take the risk of someone else buying them before I could rush home to get a dollar, so I decided to buy them on the spot, and ask the counter guy (a new volunteer, I know the regular Salvation Army volunteers) to hold them for me while I got the cash.
Obviously, the new volunteer couldn’t stay much longer beyond his shift, and very helpfully wrote the note and attached it to the toys to unburden everybody from any potential mix-up. I liked the note so much I asked for it for this blog.
Thing is, I often think and perceive of myself (naturally) as Filipino, and a bit less often, as Chinese (I am part-Chinese), but because of that note, I thought that in a country like New Zealand I am just as frequently perceived as Asian, with the only wrinkle being that there are as many as 48 different kinds of Asians, 46 if you don’t count Russia and Turkey, which are as much part of Europe as they are Asia, but that is neither here nor there.
Point is, when you’re Asian, you embrace the positive as well as the negative aspects of all members of the Asian family. You may be more East Asian and Southeast Asian than Middle Eastern or Central Asian, but as far as many New Zealanders are concerned, an Asian is an Asian is an Asian. But not all.
It acquires a bit of significance when ASEAN cultural festivals, Asian Games and Pan-Asian conferences are held, but there are so many things that bind us, and we definitely have more similarities than differences.
To enumerate these ties that bind, and similarities would take definitely more than the finite space here, and it’s simplistic and a glittering generality, but I would like to make one thing clear : I am proud to be Asian.
thanks for reading!
PS. Asia comprises 4 out of the current 6 billion people on Earth, and fill up practically all of the Eastern Hemisphere, and a huge chunk of the Northern Hemisphere.
- pasaway answers to kiwi FAQs bout pinoys (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- What makes Southeast Asia Southeast Asian? (eslschoolforenglish.wordpress.com)
- Bella Book: Asian Faces (bellasugar.com)
- Defence Of Narrow Seas In Southeast Asia – Analysis (eurasiareview.com)
- Lucy Liu doesn’t want to look like a Filipino (timesunion.com)
- Photo exhibit chronicles Filipino-American history (thelasvegasorientexpress.wordpress.com)