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Do not generalize about mainland Chinese in Philippines

09:02 AM April 16, 2019

I was recently mistaken for a Chinese national at our bazaar. The young man spoke to me in Mandarin, thinking I was from the mainland. He was very surprised when I spoke to him in fluent English, explaining that I am a Filipino. But that did not discourage him from pursuing a conversation with me and my partner. We were able to do this, thanks to the translator app in his smartphone.

At first, I was very suspicious of the man since I am very critical of how China has been treating the Philippines, not to mention the loud and rude behavior of some of his countrymen while based here in our country. At one point, I even asked him bluntly if he was a soldier. He denied this.

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From our dialogue, he confided that he has been working in the Philippines for three years in an IT company. He also admitted that he is a Christian, making the sign of the Cross while divulging this information.

From there, our discussion covered the policies of China, which, according to him, were oppressive. With his consent, I took pictures of his responses and thoughts regarding his country’s governance. I was not at all surprised about the intolerance of China toward other religions. In fact, some Catholic churches in China have been torn down while followers have been harrassed, persecuted, jailed and even tortured. That, he said, was one reason why he decided to work here, because of the freedom to practice one’s faith. He also found Filipinos very kind.

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Was I taken for a ride? Was I gullible? Perhaps. I will never know, until circumstances prove otherwise. But I felt so ashamed for having been too critical of most Chinese from the mainland. It never occurred to me that, maybe, some of them saw an opportunity to flee their country because of its oppressive regime. It turns out we might have some things in common after all, aside from a shared ancient heritage. Lesson learned: Do not generalize.

CHARLIE LAURETA,
charlieglaureta@yahoo.com

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