10 November 2008

Of being Number 4

All through my school life, I had my fair share of forms to fill and each time I get to the part that said "race", I had to choose between (1) Malay, (2) Chinese, (3) Indian and (4) Others. I am always number 4. I don't really know how the forms are for school-going children today but I suspect that not much has changed.

I did have moments when I felt like ticking the box numbered (1). Just for fun! However, brought up by a rather strict mom and a very strict Convent school, I never did. Only once in my life did I play truant. Moreover, I was caught! That's a story for another day. 

Anyway, back to being number 4. It wasn't all too bad back then. Being the minority, did make me feel a little special. The 1s, 2s and 3s were so many. The Number 4s stood out, in some way. We were noticed more easily. People remembered us better too.

Now at almost half a century, yeah, almost but not quite there, I look back and see how advantageous it has been. Every single member of my family, the 4s has married either a 1, 2 or 3. Hahahaha. Typing this seems like a mathematical equation. Now the outcome of this 4 + 1 or 4 + 2 or 4 + 3 has resulted in a lovely concoction of a truly Malaysian child.

These "products" of mixed numbers have grown up with each other, never knowing anything except being from the same family. Now isn't that nice! Until, of course, they grow older, enter school and find out that they are “numbers” which exist in our system. For what purpose? Until now, I cannot fathom it. "Statistics", you say! Ahhhhhhhh , but whatever for? Can't we just call ourselves Malaysians?

When we were young, we used to joke about the mixture our kids would be when we marry. We came up with rather hilarious made up words. I’ll share them with you here
Indian + Filipino = Indipino
Chinese + Filipino = Chilipino or Chinipino
Malay + Filipino = Milipino
Consider also Singaporean + Filipino = Silipino (go tease your Silipino friends, now)

(Note: I’m Malaysian and my Singaporean husband has been called a “Singalaysian” by rakyat@work!). So funny!

Therefore, I think, being Number four isn’t half-bad. We have a great mixture of unity. We respect and celebrate each other’s beliefs. We accept that we are not the same but neither are we that different. We inherited common genes and came from a similar blood pool. At every festive occasion, we have somewhere to go. In our minds and hearts, there is no distinction between races. As someone once said, we all belong to the human race.



Whao, I am a "Singalaysian". That's a cute nickname. Hahahahaha.

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

stephenfelixgrosse: You are my "Singalaysian".


Shakun said...

An Indipino stamping her mark here!! HAHA!!

Anonymous said...

Love your concoctions dear sister!

And fantastic collage too! Did you do it yourself?


Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

shakun: If you dad is Filipino and mom an Indian, you'd be a "Filidian". hee hee hee


Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

masterwordsmith: Just having some fun and yes, I did the collage on my own, with the help of Picasa.

Take care, dear!


Anonymous said...

i nv my malay colleague who married a chinese. every yr they celebrate lunar new yr, hari raya puasa & xmas. a very happi family of 5 indeed!


Anonymous said...

I quote Russell Peters:
Human hybrids offspring:
Jamaican + Italian = Pastafarian;
Indian + Jew = Hinjew;
French + Greek = Freek;
Iceland + Cuba = Ice-cube

Hantu Laut said...

The use of the word race should be banned.We are the true Malaysian.I have lost count the mixture we have even worse my grandchildren.

My grandchildren has Pakistani,Chinese,Javanese,Dusun,Bajau and Gujerati Indian.What should I call them?

Proud to be Malaysian.

mak jun yeen said...

Well in America for many years you cant place your choice in multiple boxex until the last census.

It took America 200 yers to achieve that.

Many "White" people were made into "black" becuase they had 1/16 African blood, that is if you have one great-great grand parent who is of full African origin out of the other 15, youre black no matter if your brunette and have hazel eyes and as pale as gwenyth paltrow. Mariah Carey and Jennifer Beals comes to mind.

Incidentally, Filipinos were classified as "Malay" in America once Since in those early days of the American Imperium they had only boxes for Caucasian, Negro, American Indian, Arab, Asian and Malay.

Early in the last century, the British had these catergories ,1. "Malay and other natives of the achipelago", 2. Chinese, 3 British Indian, 4.Pernanakkan Chinese, 5, Jawi Peranakkan/Jawi Pekan 6. Eurasian.7. Manilamen

It was the Anglo-Saxons-Celts who were so obsessed to classify people into their respective boxes.

So how shall I tell my sons to pick, offspring of a "Chinese" and "Indian".

I'll them them to pick both boxes if they cant then I let them choose. But I would not pick a race for them.

Apart from govt forms. they should just ignore the race boxes.

KongKor said...

Your article definitely give me a big smile. Yes indeed, we grew up by ticking the numbers and in your case I am happy for you and your extended family.

Malaysians, this is my net take out. Simple, relevant and compelling.

This is what the politicians in Malaysia need to learn from you.

Anonymous said...

Please help to inform MalaysiaToday that I could not use its email function to send any articles in MT to anyone! Can someone at MT pls check the email function? Thanks.

zewt said...

silipino... hahaha.... that's the ultimate :)

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Anonymous pinsy: Way to go!!! That's how we should approach all festivities. With open arms and a grateful heart for peace and harmony.!

Anonymous Anonymous: Russell Peters rocks!

Hantu Laut: Your Malaysian grandchildren are lucky to have a proud Malaysian as a grandparent!

mak jun yeen: Yep, those boxes should go!

KongKor: Glad to have made your smile. Thank you for your kind comment. I know I am not alone and that there are uncountable families like mine.

zewt: Yeah, that takes the cake! Mind you, there are a lot of them in Singapore.

To all these commenters :)

Peverill said...

I am English with Irish in me. My wife is mixed Chinese Kadazan. What does that make my kids. True world Patriots.

MAHAGURU58 said...

May peace be upon you dear sis.

You are a beautiful daughter of the Prophet Adam our Father and Hawwa @ Eve our Mother.

Adam is the origin of all mankind and made up of Earth taken from all parts of the world.

Imagine how good looking he is?

Spiritually all souls are eternal hence the usage of the present tense.

Only our mortal remains perish ; the soul stays alive!

Great job on the collage!


Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Peverill: My guess is you are of the "human race". Same as all of us. :)

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

MAHAGURU58: The same peace be upon you too, dear brother.

Thank you for your generous comments and the rose! I like it very much.

The collage can be done using Picasa.


Jarod said...

AHAHA!!! i HAVE BEEN thinking about this matter as well.. well, u put it right. I always dun feel like putting in my RACE,,, wat is the matter of my race.. if you have my religion,then it is enough lah.. why need to go asking me my race, is there any difference? Only moron still keeping their thought on race,,,

Yo Lita, you are BANGSA MALAYSIA...

Those people from other country working here should be call as lain lain!!!!!!

those who are born here must be BANGSA MALAYSIA!

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Jarod: It takes one bangsa Malaysian to know one!

Glad you recognised me. ;)

Anonymous said...

In the Year 2500, due to inter-marriage, everybody will be classified as Earthian. However, the form (Year 1980s) still remain .... 1 = Marsian, 2 = Earthian, 3 = Jupitian, 4 = Other Planetian. From members of family to nations, people see the difference. "It's the DNA. Stupid." Clinton2.

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Anonymous Clinton2: No one will know if that would be the case in the year 2500. Your guess is as good as mine.

But we can hope!


Anonymous said...

Farish Nor once write when he interviewed Nik Aziz , he was asked by Nik aziz,'What race is Adam'.

Anonymous said...

truly muhibbah, im a Malaysian by birth, but Bangladeshi by race, 30 yrs of age, still havent gotten a citizenship, but the only country i know and love is Malaysia, and to be married to a Singaporean malay.

Gosh, where do i stand!

Anonymous said...

Love your post. I was once told that the reward for loving beyond race are beautiful children.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lita,
Thought I just busy-body on this subject of human race thinggy. Its very interesting to note the difference of mix marriaged as they say "Love Is Blind" so true. Who cares about what race anyway? Right?

Wrong! It depends largely which country one is born, and how mature a country has become.

Its sad but true. The not so long ago history of Rwanda genocides 1972 (36 yrs ago)witness a country decended into madness which took the lives of 100,000. After watching the Awards movie Hotel Rwanda played by Don Cheadle, I was moved to do some research on my own. (Must watch Movie)

This was my thoughts:
They were killing one another, same country, same skin colors, and even share the some language. They were 'almost' ONE with only one acception- One was known: Tutsi the other Hutu. Why?

The ideas surrounding real and supposed ethnic groups in Rwanda have a very long and complicated history. The definitions of "Hutu" and "Tutsi" may have changed through time and location. Societal structures were not identical throughout Rwanda.

There was clearly a Tutsi aristocracy that was distinguished from Tutsi commoners, and wealthy Hutu were often indistinguishable from upper class Tutsi. When the German colonists conducted their censuses, they desired to classify the people throughout Rwanda-Urundi with a single classification scheme.

They merely defined "Tutsi" as anyone with more than ten cows or a long nose. The "European-like" noses of some Rwandans invoked historical and racial theories to explain how some Africans acquired such noses.... After German, the Belgium rule the country,....

Sorry, too much history here...

the point is race by definition has its purpose but it also has its disadvanatges. There will be segregation, discrimination, and so division.

So maybe we'll use Lita's style by numbers? 4, 3 , 3A's etc??

My simple thought were if there were no race, there would be no genocides?

US now set new standards about human beings, not race. Shouldn't it surprised to asked why are alliens not showing themselves? These human race are killing themselve, is best to lay off this seld distructive living organism in this planet called earth.
Ha ha. This is surely off the roof!!

Sleep well

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Anonymous 23.38: The human race.

Anonymous 02.49: You stand with all of us as one of the human race.

Anonymous 17.38: I just loved your comment. Simple, short and sweet.

Rakyat@work: You really are hardworking. I admire your perseverance and courage and dedication. I've said it before, I think, and I'll say it again.

Keep up the good work!

Patricia said...

Hello Lita,

I returning the visit!

And I feel right at home after reading this post. Eventhough I'd marked 3, I wasn't really - cos dad was from India and mum from Sri Lanka. That's a big deal apparently. Go figure.

Now, married to a chinese, my kids? Malaysians lah! And they have a french, and a chinese to add to our brew ;)

But what a wonderful time when we are all together. As must be your bunch!

Race matters only matter here in Malaysia lah. Sigh.



I've noted that once again, I am the older. Another sigh.

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Pat: What a nice surprise! Pity I wasn't home. :)

I believe that we are more tolerant and understanding because of mixed marriages! Am I right or am I right? :)

I've noted that you are the wiser. :D

Do you really live in an English Cottage? How quaint? :D again.

Patricia said...

Hahaha! Thank you for thinking I'm the wiser for it! And about the English cottage? I wish lah!


Anonymous said...


I belong to the Human Race, and yes, I fill in forms that way, got rejected countless of times, here in Malaysia, and elsewhere.

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Anonymous 08:43

Good on ya for that. I have not done it yet. Next time, I just might. :)