|Linked image: telegraph.co.uk|
Less than a year ago, at a market in Ramallah, the West Bank, Palestine, a man came up to me and greeted me in Mandarin. "Nǐ hǎo," he said. That was the fourth time it happened since I arrived in the Abrahamic Holy Land. The first two instances were in Jerusalem where I actually took time to explain that I was from the Philippines. While having tea at a cafe in the Old City near the Damascus Gate, having just dealt with an old man trying very hard to convert me to Islam, a little Arab boy approached me saying "China? China?" followed by a few short sentences in Arabic. He didn't seem to speak English at all. I tried saying "Laa, laa (no, no)," but he just went on and on in Arabic. I grew impatient so I just responded with a nod, saying "Na'am. China. (Yes. China.)" That got rid of him.
Now, back to the Palestine incident. Having had a long day, recently coming back from Jericho and having no patience to explain that I was not Chinese, I just responded with the same greeting."Nǐ hǎo," adding "Wǎnshàng hǎo. (Good evening.)" I thought it would make him go away. Big mistake! He then grabbed my wrist, called people over and started taking selfies with me. I was an instant celebrity! The commotion caught the attention of my Spanish and German companions, who then explained to the locals that I was actually not Chinese. Disappointed, they let me go. Kind of like if people looking to catch a cheetah caught a leopard instead. Close enough, but not quite what they were searching for.
Little did I know that an anchorwoman from China Central Television (CCTV) claimed, four years ago, that that Palestinian man was actually right. If Ms. He Jia were to be believed when she stated the "indisputable fact" that "the Philippines is China's inherent territory," I actually am Chinese. Not even Filipino-Chinese, but actual Chinese from China, being that the Philippines is supposedly part of China.
So how is this supposed to work? Kind of like how Puerto Rico's relationship is with the United States of America? Does this mean I get statutory Chinese citizenship? Does this mean I don't need to apply for a visa the next time I wish to visit the "motherland," unlike the last two times I did. I guess that's one perk, because sitting in a queue at a Chinese embassy isn't exactly pleasant. And speaking of queues, does this mean it's now socially acceptable for me to jump queues* wherever I go? Tell me, He Jia, what does this mean for me? What does this mean for my country? Do we still get to call our land "the Philippines" or is there a mandate from Beijing that we now have to start calling it "Fēi Lǜ Bīn"? What if we don't comply? Do we get thrown in a labour camp?
BY THE WAY, THIS IS THE TELEGRAPH ARTICLE I'M TALKING ABOUT: