For centuries, dominant groups subjected the Chinese in the Philippines to different forms of identifications as a way to localize them. The Chinese in turn found ways to deflect and manipulate such means of control. Focusing on five films on Chinese Filipinos, this essay describes how, in an era of increasing globalization and China's ascendance to superpower status, the Chinese in the Philippines construct and negotiate contemporary versions of “Chineseness” to achieve economic success and social acceptance. In particular, it focuses on a Filipino-Chinese organization's invention of the category “Tsinoy” as a creative but delicate attempt to embed the Chinese in the national consciousness and construct a positive image of the Chinese. For, as seen in the films, other Chinese can appropriate the term while both local and regional changes reinforce certain Chinese stereotypes. Furthermore, as Chinese Filipinos engage in transnational practices and participate in triumphalist versions of Chineseness, gender roles are either reinforced or reconfigured. Women assume more power, hence becoming “stronger.” However, such “empowerment” is still proscribed within the Confucian moral economy of the family, thereby preserving Chinese patriarchy. Simultaneously, men who are trapped between the traditional norms of masculinity and desire for self-expression become effete or ineffectual.
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Research Article| May 01 2011
Richard T. Chu; Strong(er) Women and Effete Men: Negotiating Chineseness in Philippine Cinema at a Time of Transnationalism. positions 1 May 2011; 19 (2): 365–391. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-1331760
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