First published in Tulay, Monthly Chinese-Filipino Digest 2, no. 5 (October 22, 1989): 7.
When is China’s National Day, Oct. l or Double Ten, many of our Filipino friends have been asking. Even the young Chinese Filipinos who do not know the difference between the two dates are confused.
China’s vastness, in size and population, its long history and civilization have shrouded it with mysticism. Despite its decade of opening up, it has remained a mystery to many.
Most Filipinos think that any Chinese would know everything about the enigmatic Chinese culture – from its exotic cuisine to its outlandish medical cornucopia.
Few Filipinos realize that the Chinese in the Philippines is not a homogeneous group. The Filipino Chinese is vastly different from the Chinese Filipinos and both of them are different from the mainland Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, Taiwan Chinese and other overseas Chinese. In the same way, the Catholic Chinese is vastly different from the Protestant Chinese and both are again quite different from the Muslim Chinese, Buddhists, Taoists and so on.
Therefore, not knowing when China’s National day is not surprising and the faux pas occasionally occurring from this ignorance is all understandable.
China celebrates its national day on Oct. 1 to commemorate the success of the communist revolution in 1949 and the toppling down of the Kuomintang (nationalist) rule in China, leading to the birth of the People’s Republic of China.
Double Ten (Oct. 10) is celebrated by the Chinese in Taiwan. The day signifies the success of Sun Yat-sen’s revolt against the Manchu rule in 1911 and the establishment of the Chinese Republic which was later driven off to Taiwan.
Since the Philippines recognized Taiwan up to 1975, the Double Ten celebration is still the more familiar one.
Among the local Chinese, however, both Oct. 1 and Oct. 10 are celebrated by the older Chinese with equal fervor depending on their political inclination.
The young Chinese Filipinos, on the other hand, seem not to care. June 12, I898 is the only national day they know and relate with.