EVERY MIGRANT scattered by the four winds across the seven seas from our Inang Bayan knows this fact of life : we wear many hats in our adopted and host land. On the street, in the workplace, in church or at the mall, we use many personalities that serve us well because of force of circumstance and practicality.
Most of the time we go with the flow, and just put on the skin we are given : our hosts cannot tell the difference between races of East and Southeast Asia, in fact some have no basic impression of how Filipinos are seen and perceived, Manny Pacquiao and the Fourth Power notwithstanding.
So that when Kiwis assume we are no different from our Vietnamese, Malaysian, Korean or even South Asian brothers and sisters, we just take it in stride and assume the best and most positive aspects of their profiles.
The Vietnamese are awesome in math and engineering, the Malaysians are among the world’s best in racquet sports, Koreans are world class in electronics and you know that Indians and Pakistanis have no peer in IT. So we just appropriate the shiniest and most glittering parts of their personalities. Either that, or we deny that we’re from those countries.
In the same breath, pwede na rin tayong magpakilala. By our English alone, they immediately discern that we can easily understand and be understood by any other English speaker all over the world, witness our overwhelming popularity in business process outsourcing and call center businesses. Then we give them our famous pakisama approach at the workplace, complemented by our world-famous smile. I’m willing to bet that in the first five minutes alone, whether you’re talking to an Aussie, Kiwi or South African, they’ll know that your Pinoyness is distinct from the rest of our Asian neighbors, in all modesty. 🙂
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Getting out of the Chinese shadow is a slightly bigger problem. Even forgetting for a moment that the Chinese race is the most populous in the world, (1) the astounding number of chinese migrants everywhere, (2) the overwhelming popularity of Chinese takeaway, and (3) the greater than passing resemblance we share with the Chinese make it easy for New Zealanders to think of Chinese at first blush and mistake us for Chinese.
More than that, every Pinoy on our islands has an average of at least 15% Chinese blood or ancestry. Three of my four grandparents myself had very strong Chinese roots, maybe why I like asado siopao and siomai so much, just kidding. The Chinese have more strong than weak points (respecting sovereign territory not one of them), and absorbing the good more than the bad is the only way to go.
But let’s be honest with ourselves : Sure they may enjoy the largest economy on Earth, and you can’t live without their noodles, dumplings and roast duck. But WE Pinoys speak the best English outside England, we can work with anyone and anywhere in the world, and no one compares with our nurses, teachers and seamen (that’s seamen with an “A”). Any day of the week, and any week of the year, while we may look like them, I’ll take Pinoy over Tsino every single time.
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And finally …
We owe it to ourselves to tell our hosts, co-migrants and workmates that while we respect and admire other races, we are proud to be Pinoy. They may not be able to distinguish between our fellow Asians, and we may closely resemble our Oriental neighbors, but there is no better person to be than to be a Pinoy, and no lovelier home than the Philippines.
Mabuhay po tayong lahat!