Chinese Influences on Filipino Culture We Are Thankful For
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, February 05, 2019 10:33am
Art by Dani Elevazo
Even before Spain invaded the Philippines, China already made their mark in the Philippines for trade and barter. The Filipino-Chinese bond became strong as centuries passed, and to this day, we celebrate the vibrant cultural ties of both countries.
We can’t deny Chinese traditions are ingrained in our culture for good. From food and clothing to superstitions and traditions, we acquired influences which have become part of our daily lives.
We have the Chinese to thank for a wide variety of dishes and snacks. They introduced us to pancit (which is for long life, as they say), dim sum (hello, siomai rice), lumpia, and even our favorite taho.
Calling your older siblings 'Ate' and 'Kuya'
The words ate, and kuya are not actually Filipino. These family terms are from Hokkien Chinese. Ate is from a ci (a” is a prefix for relationships; “ci” means older sister) while kuya is from ko a (“ko” is an appellation for older brother; “a” is a suffix). Ditse (second eldest sister), diko (second eldest brother), sanse(third eldest sister), and sangko (third eldest brother) are also Chinese.
Fireworks for celebrations
Filipinos love festivities, and when we celebrate, we want to make it as extra as possible. During festivals and holidays (Christmas, New Year, etc.), pyrotechnics are usually present to welcome a celebration or to drive away evil spirits. Apparently, we got this grand practice from China.
Ancient art and science which traces its roots 3,000 years ago, Feng Shui have been part of the Filipino culture. Btw, Feng means “wind,” and Shui means “water”—two elements associated with good health which equals to good fortune. To let good feng shui enter your home or office, you should de-clutter your area, let natural light and air enter, consider color scheming and the order of furniture and fixture.
Round fruits are 'required' for New Year
When New Year’s Eve comes, the usual Filipino table has oranges, chicos, rambutan, apples, pears, and other round fruits. Expect at least 12 kinds of round fruits as they symbolize 12 months of prosperity.
Chinese garter actually originated from China (surprise!). Our childhood afternoons and class dismissals are for Chinese garter “tournament” with friends and classmates. The game involves two teams. The main goal is to jump over the garter (it can be an actual garter or a makeshift one made of rubber bands tied together) without being tripped.
Tikoy for Chinese New Year
Tikoy or Nian Gao is a type of rice cake made from glutinous rice and considered as the centerpiece during Chinese New Year. Eating Nian Gao, which is a homonym for “higher year," is regarded as good luck. In the Philippines, tikoy have different flavors like ube and pandan.
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These traditions have been a part of the Filipino culture for as long as we can remember. But one thing’s for sure; these Chinese influences helped shape the Filipino culture of yesterday and today.
Got any Chinese practices or traditions you are thankful for? Share them with us!