First published in Tulay Montly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 1, no. 5 (October 7, 1988), p. 7.
The Chinese Filipino, up to this point in time, can consider himself lucky. The democratic processes work for him. He has been welcomed into the body politic of the nation.
The discrimination and second-class citizen treatment are exceptions rather than the rule. Economic and social opportunities are wide open to him.
None of his brothers in Southeast Asia can claim the same privileges (or rights). He has only to count his blessings to know how fortunate he is.
The Philippines has accorded him the good life for which his ancestors risked dangers of the seas. It was a long arduous way from the barren hills of Fukien to the rich pastures of the Philippines.
Hard work and perseverance accounted for much of the fruits. But the warm and benevolent soil of the Philippines did play an all important role.
For the early Chinese in the Philippines, economic success did not come for the asking. The price he paid was far from modest, more than the danger of the seas — he braved social unacceptance, distrust, derisions, ridicules, even hatred.
Material prosperity gave him the comforts of life, but peace of mind he did not win. He was never trusted, much less liked, he had to create his own group and live within the group to give himself a little sense of security and fulfillment.
However, times changed, policies followed, and attitudes have begun to change. The contributions of the local Chinese to the Filipino nation is recognized. Socially, the Chinese Filipino is slowly gaining acceptance. This is an opportune time for the Chinese Filipino to come out of his shell and squarely face the challenges ahead.
As the Philippines battles recessive forces to keep its economy going, the majority of its population is hard-up, practically with their backs against the wall in their struggle for a decent life.
The Chinese Filipino must be an active participant in the rebuilding of this country he has chosen as his own. He must dedicate himself to the betterment of the life of the Filipino masses.
The decision is his, but he has to make it now — bearing in mind that his decision will determine his future in the Philippines.