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Similarities between Chinese and Filipinos

It has been proven that the Filipinos have interacted with various neighbouring countries.
Such interactions included trading goods using barter system and intermarrying for better
alliance. One of the most prominent visitors to the Philippines is the Chinese who are present
until now. Dejarmem (2006) believed that the Chinese traders bartered goods like silk and
porcelain with the Filipinos’ pearls, shells, cotton, and rattan as early as the Song Dynasty.
These foreigners intermarried with the Filipinos and greatly influenced their way of living. Due to
the Philippines’ strategic location and rich natural resources, the Spaniards came to conquer the
country in the early 16th Century. Also from this period, Chinese immigrants became numerous.
According to Alip (1959), the Chinese immigrants were given great extent of democracy such
that they could settle anywhere and put up the business in any place, but gradually the
Spaniards took notice of this and decided to isolate the Chinese in permanent locations.

The old Chinese settlers in the Philippines share many traditional, “old world” values and
other cultural features with other Filipinos such as treating our parents with filial piety. We are
taught to respect our parents, elders and ancestors, and to conduct ourselves so as to bring a
good name to them. It’s considered disrespectful to call elders by their first name alone, so we
use terms like “Auntie/Uncle” even for people who are not related to us. We both believe that
elders have earned the respect of the younger generations, not only because they are older, but
they are wiser and more experienced. We are taught not to talk back to them and to defer to
their advice as much as possible. We also take care of our parents when they are old, which is
contrary to the modern Western practice of placing elderly members of their family in nursing
homes.

Speaking softly and being courteous are one of the cultures in both Philippines and
China. We are taught that raising our voices is vulgar and disrespectful. In other countries such
as Arab countries, raised voices are perfectly normal, and they often talk like they are having an
argument, which can be unpleasant for someone who is not used to it. We also try to avert our
eyes when speaking to superiors as a sign of respect, unlike Westerners who believe in staring
each other in the eye. And just like Chinese, we place a premium on our reputation and believe
that our word is our bond. Another term for word of honor in Tagalog is “may isang salita.”

Our parents push their kids to study hard and succeed in school. Some Filipino-Chinese
who run businesses also have a practice of making their children help them in their stores even
when the children are still young, to teach them a good work ethic. This is why children of Asian
parents are some of the most successful immigrants in the Unites States, with Filipinos and
Taiwanese among the highest-earning ethnic groups in the US. And in relation to Filipinos and
Chinese people knowing the value of hard-work, thriftiness or valuing of time and money is one
of the similarities between the culture of Filipinos and Chinese. We made sure that every
centavo we had was spent on something worthwhile and not on wasteful purchases or luxuries.
That’s because both Chinese and Filipinos have been through some pretty rough times, with
wars, famine (in China) and poverty, which influenced this mentality.

At present, the Chinese have been attributing to the economy of the Philippines. They
have been continuing their family line, and now, according to calculations done by the
researchers on the given statistics of Nationmaster.com and True Knowledge, Chinese and
Filipino-Chinese comprise 2.2% of the Country’s population. They have adapted well to the
Filipino culture just as how the Chinese influenced the Filipinos. The Filipino-Chinese are now
almost different from those of the Chinese in Mainland China, in terms of lifestyle and culture.
Ever since the Chinese integrated into the Philippines, the Chinese have adopted various
Filipino traits and values, welcoming the change, as much as the Filipinos took values from their
Filipino – Chinese cousins. Religion for that matter is not so much as the Filipinos adopting
Chinese religions but more of the Chinese embracing Christianity. Small pockets of Filipino–
Chinese Christian communities have been established in the last 50 years. Though using the
word “Christianity” loosely, as even though it is commonly connected to Roman Catholicism in
the Philippines, The Filipino – Chinese tend to gravitate more toward Protestantism.

In conclusion, similarities between Chinese and Filipinos can still be seen up to today, it
can also be seen in food culture because of centuries of trading and cultural exchanges. For
example, soy sauce is believed to have been brought over by Chinese traders, and we use it in
our popular adobo dish, while fish sauce came to China from Southeast Asia. A lot of Filipino-
Chinese culture such as valuing relationship, self-effacement, self-denial for the sake of others,
and many more simply shows how we share the same value, morality, and traits, regardless of
the differences in intercultural domains, because of the history and connection between this two
countries from the 19th century up to the present.