I guess I'm sort of young and naive, but the only stereotypes I know of Filipinos are that they are very peaceful, musically inclined, talented, and generally tanned. However, according to my Filipina friend, Filipinos tend to go after their own or go after whites in order to "marry up". She told me that's how she was raised, and that unless the person she dated was Catholic, Filipino or Caucasian, there would be no way she would be allowed to date. Furthermore, she told me that majority of Filipino people sort of hate Chinese people? So if I start a relationship with him, would I face a lot of prejudice from his family? Is it usually looked down upon to be of a different race?
Love-stricken Chinese Girl
Hey, what can I say? Filipino guys are simply irresistible! ;-) And as regards the stereotypes you mentioned, I can hang with those -- no problem!
Seriously though, first, I must apologize. You've written me this a while back and it's quite insensitive of me to have kept you waiting for an answer that must be quite important to you. But unfortunately, I can only answer questions at my pace, and though I was born in the Year of the Tiger, I'm really a Turtle Blogger.
I actually thought of delaying my answer to you until Valentine's, but I changed my mind because "Chinese" seems to be on everyone's lips these days. Locally, in the Bay Area, Chinese empowerment is the buzzword, as the first Asian-American mayor of San Francisco, Edwin M. Lee, was sworn in last week. Nationally, in the US, Chinese power is said to be really ascendant, as shown by the way China's president, Mr. Hu Jintao, is being treated as he visits his country's largest debtor this week. But more importantly, globally, Chinese superiority is also now being touted -- even in an aspect erstwhile deemed to be so personal to everyone: parenting.
So assuming it's true that we Filipinos only want to "marry up" race-wise, surely we must be re-evaluating our stand with regards to the Chinese, right?
But here's the thing: The truth is, Filipinos don't look down upon the Chinese; Filipinos generally don't restrict marriage to Caucasians, Catholics or fellow Filipinos only; and while Filipinos often do prefer lighter-skinned folks as potential partners in marriage (although changing, that's still the reality of today's world), I think it's not a stretch to say Filipinos, especially when compared to other groups, are in fact equal-opportunity daters.
I don't know why your Filipina friend said those things to you, but don't believe everything she says, in the same way that you shouldn't believe everything I say here. None of us can speak definitively for millions of people. But I think the evidence weighs in favor of my position. And while statistics will bear out that most of us do end up dating and marrying within our group, that's just natural, because cultural compatibility is paramount to most people who want to avoid conflict. I'd like to think this is just what her parents were driving at, too.
Besides, we're mutts, you see, and so historically, we've really intermarried a lot with all sorts of "breeds." In fact, estimates show that while the "pure" ethnic Chinese only comprise about 2-3% of the country, as many as 20% of the Filipino people have some Chinese ancestry. Personally, I think these figures are understated because the Chinese have been settling in the Philippines since time immemorial -- or as far back as the Ice Age when a now-submerged land bridge is believed to have enabled many people from South China to settle in what is now the archipelago called the Philippines, and continued non-stop even during the Spanish (when they were referred to as sangleys) and American regimes, up to present times. The sitting President, the national hero, the former dictator Marcos -- they are just a few of the country's more famous Chinese mestizos, offspring of mixed marriages.
And I think it's wrong to say we hate the Chinese, for if that were the case, those famous Chinese mestizos would not have achieved their positions in life. Majority of Filipinos do hate hateful and abusive people, Chinese or not. In fact, anyone would, don't you agree?
That's why I now think Tiger Mother Amy Chua's observation in her 2003 essay, "Vengeful Majorities," unfairly depicts Filipinos. In it, she related how her Chinese aunt was killed by her Filipino driver and how the police classified the killing as an act of revenge. But she did more than that: She also suggested that the driver killed her aunt because her aunt was a member of a rich, market-dominant minority while the driver was a member of a "vengeful majority" in the Philippines. By doing so, she elevated the incident to somehow be representative of an ethnicity-influenced tension between the ethnic Chinese and the ethnic Filipinos in the Philippines.
But even if I were to concede that there is in fact some tension, I guarantee you that it is almost negligible and in no way -- no way! -- comparable to the other ethnic tensions she also mentioned in her essay: e.g., Croats vs. Serbs, Hutus vs. Tutsis, Jews vs. ethnic Russians, Chinese vs. ethnic Indonesians, etc. -- tensions which are more violent and widespread, much more societally disruptive, and much, much more gruesome because they had resulted in riots, outright war, ethnic cleansing, and genocide in the past.
To understand what I'm saying here, let's reverse the roles in Chua's aunt's case. If her aunt had been an ethnic Filipina who was killed by her Chinese driver because the latter couldn't take the abuse and enslavement anymore, I think you'll also understand why the police would still be justified to put the same reason for the killing: "Revenge." In other words, the murder was an act of "revenge" because of Chua's abusive aunt, not because the ethnic Filipino majority is somehow "vengeful."
So, no, I'm not worried about you being looked down upon by the Filipino guy's family, and I'm not concerned at all that you would face any prejudice from the guy's side. You won't. The truth is, I'm more worried about your family looking down upon my fellow good-looking Filipino. I know we're just talking about dating here and not marriage, but Chua herself recently admitted that she married an American Orthodox Jew as a form of rebellion because her once father told her: "You will marry a non-Chinese over my dead body!" With respect to us Filipinos, she was upfront and didn't even mince words when she wrote in her 2003 book: "For the Chinese...marrying a Filipino...is shameful."
I happen to know this is quite true among many Chinese in the Philippines. When I was in college, I had female Chinese friends who fell in love with Filipinos, and even if the guys were from decent families and were decent themselves, the Chinese parents still objected to the relationships, going as far as threatening their daughters with disownment. One Chinese lady I know was indeed disowned and her parents did not even bother to attend her wedding. I heard the parents and the daughter only reconciled after the latter delivered her first baby.
Now, are you sure you still want to date that Filipino guy?
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