The Filipino in Tsinoy

Amidst the political tension between the Philippines and China, it is of interest to know how Tsinoys perceive their own political engagement.

Following the territorial disputes in the West Philippines Sea and the seemingly restored relationship between the Philippines and China post-Aquino, many of us Filipinos, might have wondered how modern-day Tsinoys currently residing in the Philippines position themselves on matters involving the two nations. I also remember having watched on a news program a short feature where a reporter is making random Filipino-Chinese decide whether they will side with the Philippines or China in case a war ensues between the two countries. Teresita Ang See, through her study entitled From Sangley and Instik to Huaren and Tsinoy – Ethnic Identity Formation and Transformation, succinctly answers similar questions pertaining to the Tsinoys’ identification of themselves within the Filipino community.

Examining the Tsinoys’ identification speaks a lot about their loyalty towards either nation, a central theme of Ang See’s study. When asked about what the Filipino-Chinese consider as their home, the results were positive towards their country of residence. 9 out of 10 (94%) Tsinoys consider Philippines as their home while only 1% chose China.
In a totally hypothetical setting, respondents were also asked where they will side with in a game of basketball between Chinese and Filipinos. An overwhelming majority (83%) chose the Pinoys while only 1 in 10 (12%) voted for the Chinese.

In looking at a particular group’s belongingness, it is also necessary to examine language, a significant aspect of a country’s identity. In the study, it was revealed that the biggest majority (57%) of Tsinoys speaks Filipino, a local dialect, English, and Hokkien at home. This is followed by 19% who use Filipino, a local dialect, and Hokkien. Only 9% speak Filipino or a local dialect alone while 6% exclusively speaks Hokkien.

Amidst the political tension between the Philippines and China, it is of interest to know how Tsinoys perceive their own political engagement. Ang See’s paper found out that the Filipino-Chinese community believes they should be part of the country’s political processes. More than two-thirds (69%) of them disagree that Tsinoys should just stay quiet on political issues like Charter Change and impeachment. An even larger percentage (75%) said they should participate in politics, including running for government positions themselves and being vocal about current issues. Meanwhile, 4 in 5 (81%) said that Tsinoys must complain if they think the government is doing something wrong. 

The Filipino-Chinese community in the country has already become a significant part of the Philippine society, be it in the economy, culture, or politics. In cognizance of this, understanding their values, culture, and identification is necessary for assuring harmony between the Pinoy and the Tsinoy communities, regardless of the relationship of the two countries. In the words of Teresita Ang See, “these ties that bind are stronger than the issues that divide.”

Photo taken from The Jakarta Post

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