AS A people, we tend to be fond of boxes. When we leave for a foreign country or come home, we pack up our lives in a box and take it all with us. Coming home is even more of a box-laden set of affairs; no balikbayan worthy of the name returns home without one, or, more likely, more than one. We’re good at packing things in boxes. We’re good at putting people in boxes, too. Gender discrepancies are okay, as long as they fit neatly in a box. Homosexuals are all right if they announce themselves as so, and limit themselves to the roles that society allows them. Different ethnicities are all right as well, as long as they jump out of the box on cue and do what they are supposed to do: the black import to win the basketball game; the Indians to do the 5/6 thing and then ride off on their motorcycles; and the Chinese to provide a continuous supply of haw flakes and Ma Ling.
TO A common Juan, a Chinese is a Chinese is a Chinese. Ask him to distinguish between the old and the new and you might as well ask him what jiuqiao and xinqiao mean. They’re alien to him, pardon the pun.
But the Tsinoys want to make sure people can discern the differences between the jiuqiao and xinqiao, and several of them have even written papers to help ensure this.
HERE’S one reason for staying in the Philippines: the world has been coming to our doorstep, anyway, so why even leave?
THE COUNTRY was going through a major upheaval, and so was the life of Teresita Ang See. As the Edsa 1 uprising entered its second day, she learned her husband had liver cancer.
Back then, the diminutive Ang See was dividing her time as part-time insurance agent and Chinese language tutor, and the contented, supportive spouse of Harvard-trained Chin Ben See, a professor of social anthropology and Asian studies. In 1971, Chin Ben See had co-founded the Pagkakaisa sa Pag-unlad, which vigorously lobbied for jus soli citizenship and the integration of the local Chinese into mainstream society.