Cultural Self Portrait

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By Manuel Chong

Filipino-Chinese. That is what I am. The term “Filipino-Chinese” simply refers to a Chinese descent born and bred in the Philippines. Being a third generation Chinese in the Philippines, I did not grow up in a culture that is purely Chinese nor is it purely Filipino.

The older generation of Filipino-Chinese is trying their best to pass on to the younger ones the traditional Chinese teachings which they acquired and learned from their ancestors. They wanted to preserve every detail of Chinese tradition for the younger ones. However, this appears to be a difficult task as time passes as my generation and the coming generations are more liberal and open to Filipino, Western and other cultures. This is the reason why the older generation frowns upon and show less favorable inclination to the younger generation’s present lifestyle. It is very undesirable for them that our generation of Filipino-Chinese yield towards integration.

I, on the other hand, am more integrated into the mainstream of Philippine society. I’m able to better articulate the local language, attitudes and conformities. Although my parents put me in a Chinese school, as most parents do, in order for me to learn the Chinese Mandarin language, however, the mindset at that time was that the language is of no use in my country of birth. Who would have known that, after 20 years, the Chinese language became important, in an economic sense. As a result of that mindset and integration, I have lost the ability to read and write in Chinese although I can still speak the Fookien dialect which is widely used at home. This is the dilemma facing the older generation. The traditional values that have been passed on to me were gradually lost and abandoned in favour of the pragmatic and practical approach. More so now, having lived in Canada for the past 5 years and having traveled the previous 10 years, my culture and values have been greatly shaped...
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