It’s the 61st Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (National Day or 国庆节). Partayyy! That’s what it was in Tiananmen Square. Cotton candy, corn on the cob, massive floral displays, and… multi-colored plastic devil horn headbands. I have yet to discover their significance. But in essence, the mood on the square tonight resembled that of our Fourth of July. It was unfortunately (or fortunately) not the security-ridden atmosphere that I’d previously conjured up in my mind. Perhaps last year when China rounded its sixth decade the mood was a bit more conflicted, but I doubt it. All the controversial censorship, arrests, and injustices that plague the foreign press coverage on China feel like bitter annoyances when you stare into the crisp, glistening characters on two giant flat screens that illuminate messages of technological success, economic progress and a harmonious society. There is no looming sense of dissatisfaction here but one of overwhelming pride. After all, tonight’s square wasn’t empty but bustling with a smiling crowd snapping photos of their kids posing with Chinese flags and peace signs. And in the end, what’s not to be proud of? All the bad aside, because every country has its dark side, China’s unprecedented growth in the last twenty years is not to be taken lightly. Recognizing the pressures experienced in the past from both within its borders and abroad we might make rational sense not only of China’s rapid economic development but also of its political system. Of course there are many problems left to tackle here, but every citizen deserves a day to honor and rejoice in the successes of the country they live in.
It’s Sunday morning near Hong Kong’s Central Station. Hundreds of Filipino women gather on cardboard boxes and blankets to enjoy brunch together on their only day off from work. Shoes thrust aside, the women devour homemade flavors and reminisce moments with their own children who wait anxiously for their return thousands of miles away.
China has become one of the most popular destinations for Filipino maids seeking work overseas as Chinese families are willing to employ them for better household services and for their fluency in English. These women are often the primary breadwinners for their families and send most of their earnings back home to their husbands and children. There are around 200,000 Filipinos living in Hong Kong today.
For those interested, be sure to check out the documentary (Money and Honey, 2011) filmed and directed by the talented Lee Ching-hui. The film explores the lives of Filipino women working in a retirement home in Taiwan and dividing their time between speaking broken Mandarin, caring for elderly Taiwanese, and exchanging silly home videos with their loving husbands overseas.