Gianna Burgos – I’m a Hong Konger too
“though I may not look like one, I am a Hongkonger too.”
Gianna is an 18 year old Filipino-born Hong Konger. Though she has grown up and lived in Hong Kong most of her life, like many TCKs she still questions her identity. She shares with us some of her thoughts on belonging and what “home” means to her.
In the bustling streets of Hong Kong, you would see businessmen clutching onto their suitcases rushing past one another. They hustle, hoping not to miss their 8am bus to work. People are shouting their morning-street-food orders at the food stalls. Families who’ve just finished their weekend Yum Cha, gather to greet one another. These people are what you call “Hongkongers”. Though I may not look like one, I am a Hongkonger too.
Hi, I’m Gianna. I’m an 18-year- old, Filipino-born Hongkonger. I have basically lived in Hong Kong for the majority of my life. Currently, I’m on a gap year on my way to study Computer Science in university. I am the type of person that craves for spontaneity which is what makes me a travel-enthusiast. The phrase “Why not?” always comes to my mind when presented an opportunity (legal ones of course) whether they are ones I have have
an experienced or not.
As a non-native living in Hong Kong, I have received these questions at least once in my life concerning my identity as a HongKonger:
“Where are you from?”
“No, where are you actually from?”
“Do you speak Chinese fluently?”
“So what’s your Mother language?
Questions like these would make me question my identity as a Filipino and HongKonger.
“Can a small book dictate your identity?”
Recently, I was asked to switch my Philippine passport to a Hong Kong passport for travel and education purposes. When asked to do this, one very important question was at the forefront of my mind:
“Can a small book dictate your identity?”
To me, the answer is “No”. Though I am not entirely fluent in the Chinese language, I have always considered Hong Kong as my “home”. However, before I discovered my love-hate relationship with Hong Kong, it did take me awhile to proudly call it “home”. Learning the language was always a struggle of mine especially since I studied in a local school. I sometimes found the city too crowded and “small” where it’s impossible to go on spontaneous family road trips. Later on, I realised there was only me to blame for these petty problems.
3 Christmases later…
It took me about 3 Christmases in the Philippines to discover what “home” actually meant to me. I started to miss everything I had against Hong Kong. Missed forcing myself to speak in Chinglish (Chinese and English) in order to get my “Dong Leng Cha” (Iced Milk Tea) and “Char Siu Fan” (BBQ Pork Rice).
I missed how “small” the city was. How, to Hong Kong, safety and convenience weren’t a problem. I missed being crowded by tall and elegant-looking buildings that would light up the harbor at 8 o’clock every night. Who knew that something that meant less to you means more to you now when you have to leave?
The product of my environment
A simple bite into one of Hong Kong’s most famous dim sum can already give you a taste of Chinese heritage.
I am the product of my environment, and my environment is what I call “home”. Calling a place “home” starts with the people you are surrounded with. Being a multicultural city, I constantly meet people from all over the world and get to experience different kinds of cultures without having to travel.
A simple bite into one of Hong Kong’s most famous dim sum can already give you a taste of Chinese heritage. “Home” is where you were built to proudly say that you are who you are today. Living in Hong Kong puts you into a norm, a norm for young people to be ambitious and by becoming part of that norm, I become motivated.
Although I consider Hong Kong as my “home”, Philippines will always be my “home away from home”. To me, having a large Filipino community who struggle with finding their identity as much as I do is what makes being a TCK in Hong Kong more special. It makes being a TCK a constant learning process as you constantly incorporate your experiences as a Filipino and HongKonger to become the person I am today.
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