Good jab, bad jab

Sinophobia is a fear or dislike of China, Chinese people and/or culture. It is frequently directed at ethnic Chinese living elsewhere and involves issues of immigration, nationalism, ideology, wealth disparity  and even past history and racism.

The recent spate of news about Mayor Alice Guo of Bamban, Tarlac is raising the specter of Sinophobia. It is indeed mysterious how she suddenly appeared out of nowhere to win the mayoral election. Even more mysterious is her origins, which she claims not to have a knowledge of. Inevitably, Filipinos may wonder, if she is an  agent of a foreign country?

The suspicions are bolstered by recent developments in the West Philippine Sea, which Beijing claims is part of  the South China Sea. By ramping up aggressive moves against Filipino fishermen and even the Philippine Coast Guard, China has stirred up nationalistic feelings in the country. A renewed nationalism isn’t bad but with it may come a backlash of Sinophobia, including targeting long-established Chinoys who have been here for decades and have been thoroughly assimilated into Filipino  society. I sincerely hope this will not happen. 

As a child, I was a victim of such Sinophobia. Back in the 1960’s, Sinophobia was so widespread that radio commentators were inciting listeners to act against the “intsik” as Chinoys were pejoratively called then. This was part of the American-instigated anti-communist stance to counter the rise of communism around the world, with China looming large in Asia. 
On the way to school, we would be taunted and bullied by other schoolchildren we passed on the street. In one incident, my classmates and I were playing in the park next to our school when we were attacked by bigger kids from the public school, who were calling us names while punching, kicking and hitting us with sticks.  Fortunately, we were able to escape, but they continued to throw stones after us. Although we escaped serious injury, it was emotionally traumatic. 

Today, the situation mirrors that period but in terms of sovereignty issues with China claiming Philippine territory and marine rights. Chinese aggression against Filipino sea vessels, both fishermen and Coast Guard is ongoing.

But Chinoys have adopted Filipino citizenship and intermarried with the local population, which, in the first place has never been a pure race. Filipinos are a blend of Austro-Polynesian, Chinese, Caucasian, Indian and other races that make for a very diverse ethnicity. The 2024 Miss Philippines Universe winner is an Afro-Am Filipino mestiza whose striking beauty comes from her mixed-race heritage.

Many Chinoys are prominent in big business and are among the richest people in the country. They employ millions of Filipinos and contribute to nation-building through their philanthropy and assistance to small business enterprises. More are professionals such as  doctors, architects, engineers, teachers. They are also into politics with the likes of the Gatchalians, Gos and others. On the entertainment scene, Dennis Trillo, Heart Evangelista, Michelle Dee, David Licauco, Gretchen Ho, Xian Lim and Jessica Soho stand out as Chinoy superstars. 

Indeed, the Philippines is home to us Chinoys and we intend to stay for good. But we understand the need to clarify Alice Guo’s origins and settle questions of national security importance. The better question to ask is, who facilitated the procurement of her documents like her late registration birth certificate, when Senator Risa Hontiveros says that even her parents didn’t have birth certificate registrations recorded in the Philippine Statistics Authority. 

If she is indeed, a foreign country's “asset,” it is the government’s bureaucrats who are to blame for allowing this to happen. The same goes for officials who allowed issuances of visas and work permits for mainland Chinese POGO workers, to which issue Alice Guo has also been linked. The same can also be said of government employees who issue fake passports, driver’s licenses, identity cards and other documents that allow foreigners to stay in the country. 

There is  perceived “creeping” aggression with Chinese nationals allegedly buying land near Philippine military facilities in the names of Filipino dummies. This also raises paranoia that we are being insidiously invaded without realizing it. Paranoia in turn gives rise to Sinophobia, which includes Chinoys who are Filipino in all but their appearances. Before this escalates into a nationwide phenomenon, let’s decide whom we should be pointing fingers at. 

Is it the Chinoys who have been here for decades and are also leery of people from mainland China? Is it the foreigners who bribe and buy their way who should be blamed, or is it the Filipino enablers in and out of government who are guilty of selling their patrimony by doing what is described above? Aren’t the last who should be called out and prosecuted instead?