IT WAS once upon a time taboo, if not prohibited for a young Chinese to think of dating a Filipino, or any other foreigner. A Chinese person must fall in love only with a fellow Chinese.
To break the rule is too burdensome, akin to going against the Great Wall of China, so to speak.
This is how we were raised. This was how I observed talking to our elders, the Titos and Titas of the Chinese community. We grew up in a highly closed-knit Chinese clan.
Well, the Great Wall is the most famous tourist attraction in China. It is known as the longest wall in the world with a measure of 5,000 kilometers, meant to prevent invaders from entering China.
But when used as a question, the tourist spot is not what it exactly meant when Chinoys are being asked if they have a “Great Wall of China.”
In today’s lingo, if you have the Great Wall with you, your family has discouraged you to date a Filipino, or another foreigner, or what young people now call ‘Afam’, or a foreigner assigned in Manila.
So when a Chinese person is being introduced to a foreigner, the other person begins to hesitate if she or he would pursue talking.
The Great Wall describes how Chinoys are prevented from dating people who are none-Chinese.
But the times, they are a-changing.
According to the past episodes of Mr. and Ms. Chinatown beauty pageant in ChinoyTV, the candidates showed a reenactment of how the modern Chinoys deal with the unspoken tradition.
In their video, they portrayed the comparison of the old culture where Chinese folks are highly discouraged to date someone who is not Chinese, which is now evolving into the Chinese families starting to tolerate, if not embrace, the non-Chinoys in their clan.
The show gave no figures. But haven’t you noticed? It has become a familiar sight–a Chinese walking holding hands with a Filipino or an Afam.
It is a good thing that Chinoys are now more open about embracing transformation in their culture.
One love, two cultures
As a Chinoy with a strict family tradition, it was hard to understand in my younger years why the Great Wall was necessary.
Being raised as a Half-Filipino and Half-Chinese, it was great having the opportunity to learn both cultures.
I have also witnessed stories that a couple broke up because of the Great Wall, and upon observing the love story of the former lovers, they did not really sit well in sharing the same values which could be a factor why it was better for them to separate.
However, there are also some stories that they fight for their love and it was worth it.
Which made me realize that it was about handling and measuring how much a relationship was worth fighting for, just like any love story.
It was not about a person being Chinese, or her partner being a foreigner. It was about love. It was about loving each other. Love moves even the Great Wall of China.