Chinky Bucks, Manila

IMG_1744, originally uploaded by Patrick Cowsill.

I came across this restaurant at the Taft Station LRT (Light Rail Transit) Station in Manila. I wanted to take a picture because I was amazed by how offensive it is. In their defense, I'm pretty certain the Filipinos/nas who put it up and who are tolerating it don't get how offensive it is as their history is unique from other countries.

In America, we wouldn't call a Chinese restaurant either "Chinky" or "Bucks." The former is a racial slur. The latter touches on a negative stereotype, namely that Asians are bucktoothed. If you think Bucks is just a coincidence, look at the teeth on the happy face.

When I was taking the picture, the people working at Chinky Bucks got defensive. I assured them that I wasn't trying to steal secrets but rather taking photographs of places that interested me, so I wouldn't forget them.

Note: I googled "chinky." According to Wikipedia, a chinky is what many people in England call Chinese takeout restaurants. I don't know if the connotation is negative or not in that country.


James said...

Tee hee. Sorry but I had to chortle.

Chink(y) is definitely perjorative but a lot lower on most people's register than, say, paki, which - I regret to say - still seems to be perfectably acceptable to way too many people, especially in the North. In modern rhyming slang, there is 'cuff link'.

I'm not sure why 'chink' should be more acceptable. I suspect it is something to do with Chinese/East Asians historically being a less visible/influential/vociferous presence than other minorities (particularly those from the Indian subcontinent), or being perceived as a soft touch that wouldn't fight back, but that is probably changing as people assert themselves more.

Would be interested to know what some of my ethnic Chinese friends think and how they would respond to the slur. I will ask - two guys I know are polar opposites (one a tough northener and the other a quiet guy I worked with in my year back, so it would be interesting to hear their views. Most of my other East Asians friends from childhood I have lost contact with).

I do think this sign being in Asian country with a strong ethnic Chinese contingent makes it a bit different. Were the owners possibly Chinese-Filipinos themselves?

Anonymous said...

I wonder why they got defensive when you tried to take a picture. That seems like a common enough thing to do if you're obviously a tourist someplace. I also wonder if they think the name is funny. And if, in taking a picture of their sign, you reinforce that idea that they have a (positive) photo-worthy sign. But I guess then they wouldn't get defensive. I would have taken a picture too; it's definitely a face-palm occasion.

Anonymous said...

Taking picture is one of my hobbies. I carry more than one camera wherever I go. Recently I am in for Sony camera with eSweep Panorama photography that is beside the point. I don’t know why but almost all store owners disallow us to take picture in their stores. One coffee shop suddenly changed their attitude once they accepted one of my snapshots. A restaurant owner was so impressed by the picture I took in his restaurant; he lets us have free lunch that day. After all the picture taking is an adventure, isn’t it?

Patrick Cowsill said...

"After all the picture taking is an adventure, isn't it?"

With the store owners, it really can be, especially because you don't know how they'll react. With this shot, I think they were worried that I was up to something, like to expose their sanitation or steal secrets. I don't think they were worried about their sign or that people could be offended by it. Plus, I wasn't really looking to make a point, other than, "Wow! Look at this."

James has an interesting point. The owners could even be overseas Chinese (or Taiwanese).

Anonymous said...

These racial slurs are more an inside joke, with a juvenile tilt at that. They are not taught in English classes anywhere in Asia - the reason why no Chinese would take offense. And why should bucky-teethed be insulting while the Brits, for example, are known to have the world's worst dental appearance.

These Chinky Bucks are a franchise in SE Asia. This owner in Manila is most likely a Singaporean Chinese who was just protecting his investment by refusing photography.


FOARP said...

I was born in the north of England, and as a child used the term "chinky" to describe Chinese restaurants without a hint of malice. To me, then, that was simply what they were called. Of course, I wouldn't use it nowadays.

Have to say I doubt that the shop owners mean any offence. It may well be that in the Philippines, a country in which English is widely spoken, these are not offensive terms.

Hope you enjoyed Manila. Last time I was there (early '03) I found the place to be a bit of a shit hole, but I don't think I was seeing the bet side of it.