Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Being Chinese

Today is Chinese New Year. It’s something my family celebrates.

I am of course, ethnically Chinese, but I don’t talk about it much. When asked, I will often reply that I identify as a Filipino, not as Chinese (maybe slightly more relevant these days given our disagreement with our largely populated neighboring country). I don’t reject the heritage or anything - but I’m not particularly steeped in it either.

I don’t speak the language (beyond a few token phrases). When we were kids my dad had a few Chinese language learning books laying around the house, but they were mostly inscrutable, too difficult for a kid to pick up without instruction.

I didn’t go to Chinese school. My brother did, for a year, then my folks gave up on it because he had trouble with having to learn in three languages, especially since we didn’t even speak Chinese at home.

I don’t even enjoy Chinese food. I mean, I’ll eat some of it sometimes, but more often there’s far too much vegetables for my sake. Imagine how I felt my first time travelling to Hong Kong, everytime the officemates would go out for dinner it would be Chinese food. (I write about that a bit here.)

I’m not bragging or anything, just another life observation. Our family never got too into Chinese culture in the Philippines. I myself am probably more Westernized than Chinese if anything. We do observe some things like the aforementioned Chinese New Year. And some Chinese traditions during funerals and such. I was exposed to a bit more Chinese culture at my first job, where there were special activites during the Mooncake festival and so on.

That being said, I do think it’s a good idea to acknowledge and celebrate one’s cultural heritage even when one doesn’t particularly enjoy it. So today, I guess I’m Chinese.

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