Aside from academics and organizations, college wouldn’t be college without a string of relationship experiences. “This was our little meeting spot every morning,” says Miguel, reminiscing as he reaches the corner of Miguel Walk and the path along Agno gate. “Sobrang strict kasi ng parents niya so sa school lang kami nakakapag-meet. Kahit 11am pa first class niya, she used to make it a point to hang with me early mornings,” he continues.
While some wake up to good morning texts and others schedule study dates, it’s perfectly alright to live the single life, being stuck in the friendzone, or gushing about a campus crush. On the other hand, it’s been an age-old struggle to find oneself facing the figurative Great Wall. Miguel’s story is just one among countless tales of boys who have dared to climb above what stands between him and the one he loves. Indeed, the infamous Chinese Great Wall has changed the lives of several would-be sweethearts, for better or for worse.
Miguel (IV, FIN) has been pursuing Tiffany, his blockmate, since they took BASFIN1 together during a summer term several years back. “I remember waking up and telling myself, oo nga pala, I’ll see her today,” Miguel enthusiastically says. “Naisip ko rin minsan kung kaya ko ba siyang ligawan,” he chuckles. “You know, after a few weeks of contemplation, I realized, what did I have to lose?” Little did Miguel know that this courtship was going to be a painful one.
“This Great Wall we speak of, a lot of people think it’s racist, but really, it’s just tradition,” shares Gail (III, BSA). “Lahat naman ng families may kanya-kanyang practices and traditions, diba? It’s a misconception ah, hindi lahat ng Chinese may Great Wall. Well, ako, meron though,” she chuckles. Gail’s first love, whom she met in La Salle, was “100% Filipino! Not to mention, moreno cause he played football and gwapo pa,” she gushes.
In the tradition of
“I remember telling myself, shucks my parents are going to kill me talaga when they find out. But you know what? It really did make me sad naman.” The feelings were mutual in this would-be relationship. However, it was not meant to be. “I had to choose. And I chose to respect my family.” Majority of the Filipino-Chinese community in DLSU are actually third generation Chinese. Dating back to a time of arranged marriages, the preference for marrying within the Chinese culture has always existed.
“When my Taikong (paternal great grandfather) moved here after the [first world] war, he struggled,” Gail shares. “He said the Chinese migrants were treated really badly because they were looked down on as poor. Even if things are obviously different today, I guess some of the negative feelings have stayed.” However, this isn’t only common amongst the Chinese, but for Koreans and Indians as well. People, regardless of background, gravitate towards marrying someone of the same race because, other than for purposes of convenience, it’s human nature to fear and judge the unknown and the unfamiliar.
Today, Gail is labelled by her entire block as a notorious ‘friendzoner’. When asked about this, she replies, “Weh? I like being friends lang with everyone naman kasi. Ayoko rin ng hassle. Less drama. I hate dem clingy boys!” She chuckles. “But on a serious note, I won’t date Filipino boys because it’s my way of being grateful to my parents. I don’t want to give them a hard time by being the rebel daughter they don’t deserve,” says Gail. “It’s a personal choice. Family over boys. Aral muna! And it’s nothing racist. I hope people stop thinking otherwise.”
On the other side of the fence, Miguel shares how when he finally walked into the Great Wall that towered over his hopes and cast a shadow over his feelings, he felt bad, but understood tradition. “Of course, I respect Tiffany’s family values and culture,” he glumly explains. “But what hurts the most is that we grew closer, until suddenly, this wedge between us became wider,” Miguel admits his bitterly. “There was a point in time nga where she even said na, if all the odds were for us, she’d marry me,” he says, shaking his head and closing his eyes.
Gianna (I, AB-CAM) is a passionate and studious Filipina who is best friends with Kimmy, her Chinese blockmate. When she entered the University, she was open to almost anything, including a boyfriend. “I’ve been NBSB (no boyfriend since birth) for, like, forever. When I got here in DLSU, the opportunities were endless.” She met Godfrey during a party she and Kimmy attended; Godfrey (I, BS-CHE) was a “Chinito hunk”, according to Gianna. “He was charming as heck, and it was evident there were sparks!” She should have seen the signs, though.
“I believe that girls could make da moves like boys do,” Gianna admits. “So I made da moves on Godfrey and, for a while, it worked.” Little did she know that Godfrey, like Tiffany, was sticking to tradition. “Kimmy and Godfrey became closer and I became a mess, literally!” she begins to whimper. “They even have a love team name in our block,” she sobs in despair. “Kimfrey!”
Young rebels in love
Call him an anomaly, if you will. Harry (II, ECM-MKT) has, fortunately, broken through the proverbial wall. “When I was in high school, I was such a loner. I didn’t have any friends, and I was fine with it,” Harry admits. It all changed when he met Bridget (III, POM-LGL), a Dean’s Lister who happens to be Chinese, in an organization general assembly. “She sparkled, no kidding, and she had this aura that drew me in,” he admits with wide eyes and a big smile. “From then on, I was never alone.”
“It’s not like it was easy or anything,” Bridget says. “It still isn’t,” Harry teases her, before they both poke each other and laugh. “But really, I had a 9 pm curfew, we could only go out on dates once a month, dati may kasama pang chaperone. I was so nervous to introduce him to my parents,” Bridget recalls.
“We could have decided to make takas and lie to them but I realized, hey, I’m really serious about this girl. And you can’t build a relationship on lies, even if it would have been easier. Well, easy doesn’t last naman,” says Harry.
“In time my family slowly started to accept him as my manliligaw and now my boyfriend,” shares Bridget with a smile. And when asked about tips for anyone who wants to climb over or break the Great Wall, Harry replies, “You have to establish trust with the family. If you’re serious and they see your genuine intentions, well, what parent wouldn’t want that for their children?”
While Gianna remains heartbroken about Godfrey, Harry maintains this belief about the Wall. “Hindi naman yan sa race or family. Kapag mahal mo yung tao, i–sa-sacrifice mo lahat, pati kahihiyan mo,” he says, which surprises Bridget.
Like the roadblocks Harry and Gail faced, or the heartbreaks Gianna and Miguel went through, it’s inevitable for every couple (or individual) to face challenges. It’s important to consider, however, that the proverbial Great Wall is, at the end of the day, an illusion. One can choose to break down the barriers or remain hidden behind them forever. After all, if Mulan could be a soldier, fight in the army, and save her country, you could man (or woman) up and do it in the name of true love. After all, love knows no bounds, right?