Class of ’97: Roquel Jazztine Marie thinks Hong Kong is blessed, though often encounters rudeness from older generation

Filipino born and raised in Hong Kong, Roquel Jazztine Marie finds the mindset of older people in the city is sometimes set against ethnic minorities but her fluency in Cantonese helps

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 10:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 10:00am

Meet the class of ’97, born the year of the handover. Their childhoods tell the stories of Hong Kong’s first two decades after the return to China. Some remember Sars, others took part in Occupy. Now, they’re trying to work out what their future holds – and how Hong Kong’s own uncertain future fits into their plans.

Roquel Jazztine Marie

“My father works in a restaurant and my mum with a finance company. During severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), my father lost his job because there wasn’t much business at the time.

“After a year, he found another restaurant job.

“I went back to the Philippines for a year and I was kind of confused. I didn’t know what was going on at the time. I did feel a little happy when I got back to Hong Kong. Maybe it was because I didn’t really speak Tagalog or that many of my friends were here.

“Most of my friends are local. I studied in Chinese schools, so I don’t have friends from ethnic minorities.

“Sometimes the older generation can be kind of rude. They have this mindset that minorities, especially Filipinos, are only here as maids.

“I was at the market buying stuff for my mum. One guy said: ‘Look at this filthy bun mui (derogatory term for Filipino helper).’

“However, because I speak Cantonese, some people are more willing to accept me.

“After my Diploma of Secondary Education exams, my mum wanted us to go to the United States. She thought I would have a better life there, but we didn’t move because of the money.

“I think Hong Kong is a blessed city as it is well developed in terms of transportation and infrastructure. Regarding politics, freedom of speech may be put at risk but I believe economically the city will become more prosperous.”