Tuesday, October 7, 2008

tan le hieng

"when you bump into those tai diok ah's, do you understand them?" he asked. i dont really know why it mattered if i could converse with main landers. i doubt i would ever have a casual chat with one one day since i dont know anyone personally. more so, the only time i do get to talk to one is when i find myself haggling for a better price on some knock off at 168 mall.

"o, no. not even at the very least. i sometimes try but their accent, coupled with the fact that my chinese isn't that spectacular, makes it almost impossible for us to communicate. they could be speaking to me in zulu and i wouldn't be able to tell the difference." i'm exaggerating of course. i can still talk, but it would take me some time to translate in my head, then think of a reply in english, then translate it to chinese. by the time i have my answer ready, the guy would have most probably moved on to saying something else and would be awaiting for a new reply.

he looked at me strangely, then smirked. he then moved on to talk with my other friends about basketball. i didn't even bother to try to look interested in joining.

though i can say that i don't really value much of his opinion of me, it did still get me thinking. does is really matter that i cannot converse in my own language?

often i get people who ask me as to what language i use when i am at home. i guess they find it amusing that i, being foreign looking, would actually be speaking in a foreign language at home. imagine their disappointment however when i say that i speak in english, even at home. an answer i feel they never expected. i dont even believe i would have gotten the same reaction if i said i spoke in tagalog with my folks. but that really is the real deal, at home, i do not speak in chinese. actually, other than with my lola... i dont speak chinese to any of my relatives at all.

i never really felt that it was THAT strange that i didnt converse in chinese. i have relatives living abroad and they dont speak chinese either, and people felt it to be fine. so what's the difference then between them and me? why do i have to feel like i am not doing my people justice by speaking in the white devil's tongue?

my parents and uncles and aunts, not to mention my lola can all speak and read well in chinese. sometimes, when i hear them talking, u feel a certain nostalgia within, like suddenly, all that history of being chinese stirs within you. dramatic sounding, i know, but it's true. despite my lingual handicapp, i dont think that i am any less chinese as the siopao hawker walking the streets of beijing. i am an individual with the collective consciousness of 5000 years, only that, i choose to adapt to my present surroundings and evolve. isn't evolution supposed to be a good thing? honestly, ethnocentrism is soooo passe!

was washing up in my bathroom one night and as i stared at myself in the mirror, i took time to really, intently look at myself. here i was, pale yellow skin, almond shaped eyes, pronounced cheek bones, short bridged nose, jet black hair. looked pretty oriental to me. yet all that sino feature ended there.

so who am i? my friendster profile states that i am chinese by nature, filipino by nurture and americanized thru TV. i have two official names and speak 3 languages. traditionally, i should be either a buddist or a taoist but my family and i decided to embrace a totally foreign faith, christianity. i have lived in two different countries and have visited more. i was an OFW. i suck in math and business but excel in arts and sciences. i do know how to use the abacus but would rather grab a calculator instead. i do calligraphy. i like dimsum and peking duck but dont mind a slab of steak , or sisig, or ginataang kuhol when the oppurtunity arises. i haggle like it's a sport. i use chopsticks when i eat, only because it fools me to think i eat more (a diet trick for all of you ppl), and i also sometimes eat with my hands. i'm not sporty at all but i am trying to live healthy thru other means. i don't know how to ride a bike... really. i do take herbal meds, yes, the really stinky kind, but i also take western remedies as well. i dont believe in feng shui. we dont have statues of buddha or any other deity, nor are there icons of dragons at home. i do not speak with a high pitched nasal accent. i am jamie tan, a simple pinoy chink wandering the streets of tondo.


theTripper said...

"tan le hieng" << what does that mean?

and of course ur proud of who you are. that's more important than what others would want u to be.

emo ba ang entry na to? hehehe

jamie da vinci! said...

hehehe, my chinese name :) it serves as both a generational name, meaning it tells people of which generation i am in the family line, as well as a symbolic name, le hieng being the virtues of respect and perseverance. my lola's pamana to me. :)

emo ba? ;)