Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fil-Chi But Not Filipino

When I was living in Manila, I kept myself entertained at times by attending a few Fil-Chi events and activities. It all started one day when my mom took me to this luncheon in Chinatown and said we were going to meet some new friends. I didn't think much of it until I realized it was a full blown match-maker event. All the parents were seated at their own tables while us single kids were seated in assigned tables with guys and gals alternating per seat. It was a nightmare.

I didn't end up meeting anyone there (phew!) but I was impressed at the community that was thriving and put in place for the Fil-Chi youth. Sometime later I was invited to another match-making event, but this time it was an open party so I thought why not. Another friend of mine had friends who were organizers, so at least I wouldn't be alone. I thought to myself that if anything I would have a great time people watching, making fun of others and making fun at myself for attending such a pathetic event. From these innocent events I started knowing the organizers more and thus the parents who actually ran the show from behind the curtains. Somehow they were impressed with me being outspoken and opinionated when things sucked or didn't work, so soon I was asked to help organize some events and later I even hosted one of the Christmas programs they put up.

Later, I was asked to run as one of the officers for this organization to which I have to say honestly I don't even remember the name of anymore. During the meeting or maybe it was the election meeting? Anyways, I wouldn't know because most of the meeting was conducted in Fukien which I don't understand. I got to meet the parents who actually ran the show and realized I did not want to be associated with them. I was so blind! There was an alterior motive to all this! Why didn't I notice it sooner?

During the meeting, I don't remember whether it was me or someone else, but the question of what the goal of the association was for and the parents said it's for their children to meet and make friends with other Fil-Chi kids. Althought there is nothing wrong with that, I couldn't help but notice that the underlying, unspoken reason was that they didn't want their children to end up with Filipinos. So what better way to reassure that than to flood their social life with Fil-Chi's and nothing more. I almost ended up arguing with a few of the parents there and left the meeting that evening vowing not to associate myself with them again.

I still often think about that night with the image of those parents sitting there in a long row with their arms crossed. They stand for majority of the parents of MY friends and it saddens me that up to this day, there is still so much blatant discrimination. I was frowned upon because I couldn't accept the fact that these parents, these adults still wanted to live their lives with closed doors. And what more, they want their children shut behind those doors with them. The moment they want to step out and god no, marry a Filipino, they would be kicked out and shut out forever. And reading some of the forum posts on Tsinoy.com, I can see that it is still going on today.

My parents didn't immigrate to the Philippines and I wasn't born in the Philippines either, so I cannot claim that their reasons for thinking this way are illogical or completely unacceptable. Maybe in a minute way I could understand where they're coming from, but sometimes I wish they could also pop their heads out from behind that door and see how great things could be too on the other side.

And just a side note. One thing I can't figure out with this whole thing is this. I've noticed that most of my Fil-Chi friends mainly speak Tagalog. They seem to be quite uncomfortable using English, if at all. But my Filipino friends mostly speak English and not Tagalog. If there is this whole thing against mingling with Filipinos and eventually becoming Filipino, then why the fluent Tagalog only? At least with the Filipinos, most can switch comfortably between the two languages. With my Fil-Chi friends, I speak to them in English and they answer with Tagalog. I don't get it.

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