More than the dragon and lion dances, lucky charms, and the tikoy that are all visible during the local celebration of the Chinese New Year, the Philippines has also earned a treasure trove of Chinese influence in our culture as the Chinese men stayed in the country in the past.
What’s in this treasure trove? Let’s count the ways Chinese culture is still prevalent in our traditions up until today.
Family reunions every Christmas, New Year’s Day, Lolo’s birthday, and actually almost every weekend are one of the most important practices that the Filipinos learned from the Chinese community. Pinoys love gatherings; we love the company and the presence of our friends, family, and relatives. We love the endless talks and catch-up stories over good food and good music with our loved ones. The classic Filipino qualities of having close family ties, respect for the elders, and high regard for the hierarchy within the family that manifests through our simple gestures of addressing elder brothers “kuya” and the elder sisters “ate” were adopted from Chinese culture.
The Art of Business
It is a well known fact that the Chinese people are good in business. No wonder they are often stereotyped as businessmen. As they stayed in our country for many years now, the Chinese men has indeed taught us the value of business-mindedness and hard work. Look at the sari-sari stores in almost every block in your local community. Shops pop here and there, selling everything from food to clothes, toys, and books. Business moguls in the country—from Henry Sy to Lucio Tan to Ben Chan—are also Filipino-Chinese.
Did you know that the Tagalog words “bimpo,” “toyo,” and “hikaw” are actually Chinese words? Yes, they were originally a combination of two or more Chinese words that evolved over time and have been eventually accepted in Filipino lexicon.
The Philippines has been home to some Chinese men up until today. And so the interaction between the peoples of the Philippines and of China eventually aided in breaking the language barrier. It’s surprising how a lot of Filipino words that we use in our everyday lives actually came from the Chinese descent.
Do you like Chinese food? If you answered no, then let’s rephrase the question: Do you like pancit, lumpia, and siomai? Yes? Well, they are actually Chinese food!
Food is one of the major influences of China in our country, and it is very evident with our favorite Filipino dishes. In fact, most of the Pinoy favorites like bihon, lumpia, siopao, siomai, and sweet and sour pork are fusions of Filipino and Chinese culinary. So, the next time you say you don’t like Chinese food, think again.
Beliefs and Traditions
Putting round fruits on the dining table, banging on pots and blowing on trumpets, and wearing anything red during New Year’s Eve are just some of the traditions we also learned from the Chinese people.
Filipinos have a lot of beliefs and customs and most of them have different cultural origins. Over the many years of our relationship with the Chinese community, Chinese beliefs have already been mixed with the Filipino culture. A lot of the things we adopted from the Chinese culture indeed helped shape our country and the Filipino culture today.
Learn more about our eventful relationship with the Chinese over the centuries with Vibal Foundation’s More Tsinoy Than We Admit. Copies are available at shop.vibalgroup.com.