Thursday, September 7, 2006

The Chinese In My Life

I cannot run away from them. They are there in everything that I do. When I pick the foods I eat, when I choose what I wear, when I select what I read, when I decide which movies to see or TV channels to view and they even have a hand in the way I think about and perceive the world I live in. They, in no small measure, even determined, from birth, how I would look like. Without a doubt, they are my single greatest influence. Who are they? They are the Chinese in the my life.

My paternal grandmother's father was a pure blooded Chinaman who started it all, not that I blame him or anything. That made my grandmother a Chinese mestiza who did not even have the decency to learn how to speak Chinese; a most unfortunate circumstance which led to many embarassing situations decades later when, in many instances, Chinese individuals, thinking I am one of them, hurled gibberish in my direction while I just stood there stupefied and uncomprehending.

My father also looked distinctly Chinese and even had to live with a Chinese nickname. He too, like me, unfortunately never learned the language except for some choice words which he used only when making fun at Chinese speaking relatives and which are extremely difficult to translate accurately into spoken English, and only out of the hearing of curious children.

Then came the horror of horrors. Both of my father's daughters married into families of Chinese descent, one of them even a pure blooded Chinoy or Chinese pinoy at that. A case of like blood attracting each other? Who knows, but the end result is a series of offspring from both families sporting the undeniable physical features of their distinctive lineage. And, lo, the circle was complete. I was trapped like a cricket in a Chinese cricket box.

Over the years, however, I have learned to come to terms with the Chinese influence in my life. It even has real advantages which I often exploit shamelessly. Like getting discounts at some Chinese owned stores or basking in the misleading impression of others that I, although only partly Chinese and not the full-blooded, genuine article, must be also filthy rich like so many of that race.

I have even learned to brag to others about it. When one is the inheritor of one of the world's oldest existing civilizations which is also today's emerging world superpower, one must be proud of one's blood ancestry. Let the others grow green with envy at us. Compared to us Chinese, they are only barbarians, after all.

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