Disclaimer: This article deals with the somewhat sensitive issues of interracial dating and cultural issues based on race. If this topic is offensive to you, I encourage you to keep reading to be in the know about students last Valentines’ Day. If you absolutely can’t tolerate the above, then skip the article. I have written this article for the purpose of answering a question I have been asked many times over and over again, “Ano ba ang Great Wall na iyan?”
Love is in the air in Valentines’ Month. With the season of love comes giddiness and confessions, strength and anxiety, and at times bitterness, leaving a trail of broken hearts in its wake.
Too negative? Let me share a story: One time, as I went back into my classroom to look for a notebook I lost, I saw a girl place a bunch of roses on her desk as she left. She didn’t take them with her, even though she was the last one to leave the classroom.
Intrigued, I went to the door, and glanced at the love note within the abandoned blossoms. “Great Wall? If no, take these flowers with you. If yes, leave them. I’ll take the hint.”
Sad, isn’t it? The Great Wall strikes again.
“Where can I get advanced Hokkien language lessons near Katipunan? Help a brother trying to get over the infamous great wall (長城)” says an ADMU Freedom Wall post.
In history, the Great Wall of China is a famous series of walls that were built to protect Mainland China from nomadic groups (such as the Mongols) in the Eurasian Steppes. It also protected trading routes such as the Silk Road and was a very effective defense strategy for China.
But for college students in the Philippines, where quite a few of the students are the children of immigrant Chinese, it takes on a whole new meaning.
Why would anyone want to get over the “infamous” Great Wall?
I remember being quite confused when my blockmates and classmates asked me if I had a “Great Wall.” When they explained it to me, it turned out that outside the walls of my predominantly Chinese school, there was a lot I didn’t know.
It turns out, in the Philippines, Chinese Filipinos or Tsinoys are quite desirable in the dating world. Growing up in the country, they know English and Tagalog, but with their Chinese upbringing, they are known to be industrious, smart, and thrifty.
Chinitas and Chinitos (a loving nickname) are also praised for their good looks that resemble Korean ideals in this Kpop and Kdrama-loving generation. But don’t take my word for it.
Now that we know why there are so many willing climbers, what exactly is this Great Wall or barrier? In an advertisement entitled #FreeToLove for Closeup, a young Tsinoy woman sitting beside her boyfriend explains the phenomenon. “Of course, many people, regardless of race, feel like it’s difficult to date into a Tsinoy family because it’s a different culture. It is a different world, and not necessarily, the family accept you right away. That’s why it’s called the Great Wall of China.”
“Uy, may great wall ba si crush?” (Does my crush have a great wall?) I hear many a hopeful Filipino, Spanish, or even Korean student ask, with hopeful voices in the corridors of my university.
The phenomenon may call to mind images of Aunt Eleanor from “Crazy Rich Asians,” declaring that “You will never be enough.”
In real life, I assure you it’s less scary and confrontational. But please don’t be angry with Chinito/Chinita if they don’t go out with you. It may be that they aren’t looking to be in a relationship (like myself) or their parents strictly forbid it.
If one is in a Tsinoy family, the relatives will definitely prefer a “sang lan nang” or fellow Tsinoy as your life partner to avoid the clash of cultures and the family and interpersonal drama that comes with interracial dating.
Many Tsinoy parents and grandparents would balk at the idea of their son or daughter dating a Westerner, or even another Asian who is not Tsinoy. This is why most non-Tsinoy who have a crush on a Tsinoy lament this Great Wall that prevents them from entering that person’s life romantically.
Although it’s sad, it is still a huge improvement from when marriages were dictated by the parents and grandparents.
Note that it’s not just one-way. There are some cases where the opposite happens. One post in ADMU Freedom Wall states “I am Chinese and my Filipino crush’s parents don’t want her to date me because of my race. What is happening?”
Clashes in culture may lead to disagreement, or they may lead to a wider understanding and broadened worldview. They may lead to falling out of love, or falling deeper in love and overcoming challenges together.
In the age of globalization and the increasing acceptance of interracial dating, who knows what could happen between you and crushie? It’s a cliché, but love knows no boundaries (and walls).
For better or for worse, the Great Wall’s influence is wavering, like the real one that is visited by billions of tourists a year. It is slowly crumbling, and when the walls come down, only time will tell what its effects will be.
Depending on an individual Chinese person’s Great Wall and the amount of visible Chinese traits in the other party, the Great Wall can definitely be scaled.
Not to encourage trickery but nowadays, non-Tsinoys who look and speak the part can make the cut. So get those red shirts, lessons in Hokkien and Mandarin, and travel China!
Taste the amazing cuisine that Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China have to offer! The Great Wall can probably be scaled if one’s love is true.
You can even rest assured in the knowledge that your Tsinoy beau will be just as interested in your culture as you are in theirs.
ADMUFreedomWall1532 closes with the following words: “This is my advice to you, I genuinely hope that your relationship goes well. The Great Wall is not impossible to climb, just difficult like the actual structure itself. But when you do get to the top, it will be worth it.”