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Auntie Epay, then young kid Uncle Fortunato, my mother Concepcion as a toddler and lola Honorata when they lived in Quemoy, China

I am among many Filipinos with Chinese ancestry

At no other time in the life of modern day Filipinos does the love-hate feeling toward the Chinese people are displayed than today.

Political issues such as the Western Philippines sea territory, the pivot of the Philippine President’s preferred friendship and trade with China, not to mention the increasing dilemma of dealing with the corona virus tragedy which emanates from China have come to play into Sino-Philippine relationship. Even in the life of  Filipino Australians with Chinese heritage now transplanted in Australia.

But one thing that should be understood is that heritage of many modern day Filipinos  reveals the Chinese blood in them.

My mother Concepcion Reyes Perdon was a child of a Chinese migrant in Bicol and a Bicolana widow.

Her story is that she was born in Bicol in the Philippines, but during her infancy lived in China when her father Pablo Reyes a Chinese bookeeper and his wife Honorata settled in Quemoy. They returned to Bicol after a few year later during some political turmoils in China.

My mother had a brother named Fortunato who perished in Bicol during WWI and left two orphaned sons who were adopted by my mother until their manhood years.

My mother had four sons herself including me. She also adopted a grown up son of my father who as a widower married my mother.

A barrio schoolteacher, my father had a stroke when I was four years old and died in a second stroke when I was 11 years old.  Imagine the burden that rested on the shoulder of my wonderful mom who was a small town seamstress.  All of us six boys reached high school with my brother Renato and I blessed to finished college as working students in Manila.

I remember how my mom make both ends met with her meagre enterprises of buy and sell, not to mention selling and renting the then popular comics magazines in our town. She was also well patronised in her dress alteration shop as well as small time landlord of  rooms for rent.

I remember during hard times during President Macapagal’s time how  she asked my older brother and me peddled newly sewed children’s dresses made of offcut fabrics among distant farmers in exchange for the scarce corn-rice and vegetables for our sustenance.

From my mother, I heard so many folk and cultural stories about the Chinese life, from family life, traditions, food, superstitions, and many more.

Amidst the Americanised Filipino culture, some features of Chinese culture show up in my growing years like in the life of many Filipinos with mixed ancestry.

I guess that’s the trade off for having a happy multicultural life.