Manners & Misdemeanors

The False and Funny Notions About Being Chinese, By the Truly Rich Lady

C.C. Coo is descended from Chinese forebears, but she is also so much more.
ILLUSTRATOR SANDY ARANAS
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I consider myself a multi-racial butterfly, a mysterious mix of peoples and cultures that are also, by the way, Truly Rich. But most definitely I am of Chinese descent and most certainly my life is colored by Chinese culture and customs.

I bring this up because one of my favorite holidays, Chinese New Year, arrives soon, and many Truly Rich Friends are now asking me about where to get the best tikoy. For them, I am the expert “because you are a Chinese person.” Well, indelicate friends, I am greater than the sum of my parts or just one part of my sum. (Does that make sense?) Anyway, here are false notions about Si-si Coo, who is descended from the Chinese, but is also more.

That I eat tikoy, dim sum, and bird’s nest soup always

Yes, I did grow up with these dishes, but I also have well-formed palate that appreciates international tastes. In fact, right now, I am in the middle of an infatuation with Latin American cuisine, in particular the arepa, which is like a sandwich doing the salsa. I also crave a good rugelach and will always have room for a poke bowl. In other words, I eat other things. Also, would it be blasphemous to say that I do not enjoy the texture of tikoy?

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That I have a strong preference for clothes in red

Like a normal person, who lives in the now, my closet is filled with different variations of cream, tan, biscuit, buff, sand, and camel plus the occasional white. When I wear red, it is on my lips.

That I am a miser

I blame my Truly Rich Friends for perpetuating this idea that we are bunch of Scrooges. They exaggerate this characteristic when it’s convenient, like when it comes to choosing table napkins for a party. “This one-ply will do because it costs less,” they say. But it will scratch my lips.

That I will always foot the bill

Please make up your minds: Am I miser or flush with money? While it's true that I am generous with my most favorite friends, often footing the bill on, for example, spa days or weekend trips, please don't expect me to pay for everything like coffee or merienda. Sometimes I have no money. See above.

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That I am rich

Actually, yes.

That I am a wizard at numbers

To the great disappointment of my Truly Rich Parents, I am only a second-best student in math. I mean, in the same way I know how to put together an outstanding look from a pile of stuff in a walk-in closet, I can also navigate my way around a complicated numbers problem.

If you ask me how long it would take Wilson/Benson/Jackson to arrive at the hotel if he catches Train A, which is traveling at 320 kph, but needs to take a 10-minute stop every time the driver gets hungry, I can tell you with confidence that the correct answer is to take a private car. Outside of that, I am no actuarian.

That I bound by the rules of feng shui

Uh, there is truth in this. I changed three times while writing this story, because my private (and very expensive!) feng shui advisor told me that the most creative spot in my house is somewhere metallic. Naturally, I translated this to wearing a silver paillette dress and putting on a ton of highlighter as to mimic the tin man. I looked ridiculous, but I believe creativity did visit me.

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That I am more Chinese than I am Filipino

Look, I do not fancy myself as Villanelle in Killing Eve, a fashionable young woman who has a secret life. I will not one day, like a sleeper agent, suddenly swear allegiance to the mainland and reject the country that I grew up in. 

That I will give you ampao

I do remember how my grandfather would give away red envelopes to the hundreds of employees who would visit his office on a particular day. (The catch is that you had to swallow your pride and line up like Oliver Twist looking for food.) I think we still do this, but I am not my grandfather. I don’t have envelopes of cash to hand out, but I do have all these boxes of tikoy that other people have given me. Please take them all.

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About The Author
C.C. Coo
The Truly Rich Lady
C.C. Coo—also known as Town&Country’s Truly Rich Lady—is not a professional seeker of leisure as many people wrongly assume, for she has a real-life occupation: a SHE-EO of Important (Sub)Company of an Empire, for which she works very hard to make sure that the people in her care are not left wanting. She believes that manners are utterly important: “If society is like one of those costume jewelry pieces worn by Jackie O or Diana, manners would be the glue that keeps the veneer of a most beautiful thing from falling apart,” she says.
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