Saturday, December 03, 2011

Racism, Patriarchy

"Langna o Huwana?"

That was the question my parents always asked whenever they heard a new name. It could be a classmate. A person they were doing business with. Or someone on the news. In their eyes, the world was divided into Chinese and Filipino. This, more than their other attributes, would redeem or condemn the person in their eyes, regardless of their behavior or success.

My parents and my elder brother never used the English word stupid. Gong-Gong was how they reprimanded us. Or more casually, Huwana-Gong.

"My family threatened to disown me if I married a Filipina," said one of my classmates. That was back in high school.

Our high school English teacher, an alumnus of the private all-boys Chinese school we attended, told the class that he was going out on a date with his Filipino girlfriend who was also a teacher. "Ooooooh," the entire class commented. "Why, what's the matter?" he asked. No on replied, but a lot were snickering.

During the family's second trip to the US, we stayed with my mother's best friend. She was Chinese. It was at that time that mother's best friend's daughter announced that she was getting engaged to an American. "How come she's not marrying someone Chinese?" I asked.

My uncle, the youngest in his family, moved to L.A. before I was born. He married a Filipina and whenever he came to visit, he never brought his wife. This continued even after my grandfather had died. I've never met my aunt, although I've met my cousins.

During my uncle's last visit, he took me aside. "You don't have to marry Chinese. But don't marry an African. Can you imagine what the babies will be like? Yellow-Black?"

One of my friends had a Filipino father and a Chinese mother. It was implicit that she needed to marry a Chinese husband.

I've met families where one parent was Chinese and the other was Filipino. Their children needed to marry someone of pure Chinese blood.

Sons were sometimes forgiven. Daughters were often disowned.

1 comment:

Tarie said...

How do you honestly feel about all this?