Article by: Juliana Ching

Photographs collated by: Joshua Soroño


Ever since the Spanish colonization of the Philippines in the 16th century, smallChinese communities, mainly consisting of people from the Chinese province of Fujian, have nestled themselves across the Philippine archipelago. Over the centuries, these communities only expanded, bound to influence Filipino culture. Their influence has been so strong, in fact, this Friday, January 31 was declared a Philippines national holiday to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Chinese influences are evident in Filipino food, clothes, and games. Even the principle Filipino language, Tagalog, is linked to Chinese settlement. Hokkien, the primary language of the Fujian province, influenced many Tagalog words. For example, the words ate (older sister) and kuya (older brother) are derived from their Hokkien equivalents: achi and anya.

Reciprocally, Tagalog made its way into the Hokkien spoken by the Filipino-Chinese. Although Tagalog words did not directly change Hokkien, many Hokkien-speakers admit to mixing in Tagalog with their native language. Some of these words and phrases include kasi (because), tapos (after; and then), para (so), and susmaryosep (a common term used to express surprise, annoyance, or for emphasis).


 Although China and the Philippines are two countries with divergent worldviews and clashing political ethos, their cultures have managed to integrate through language to create a long-lasting bond. There is no greater proof of this than the red and gold decorations and traditional Chinese background music heard in Manila malls this month, all in anticipation of a Filipino-Chinese New Year.

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