I am a full-blooded Filipino living in the business capital of the Philippines. But Filipinos and other nationalities make up only 1–2% of our residents.
Our property manager confirmed this. Indeed, almost 98% of our homeowners and tenants are Chinese. Many of them have been brought here by companies that run back-office operations in Makati.
That explains why, in our floors and lobbies, I am always the odd one out once people start talking. I find myself becoming very familiar with some Mandarin words from the daily exposure that I have to their conversations. Only a few times in a month do I get inside elevators with a mixed group of one or two Indonesians, Malaysians, or a small family of our kababayans.
I do not speak and understand the Chinese language, but living there made me realize why we must help bridge that language gap. I have seen fellow Filipinos struggling to communicate with renters during move-ins. In a meeting with our building administrator, I suggested that they post bilingual signs and offered Lexcode’s translation services. Impressed with our service but challenged by financial constraints, they seem to have relied on their in-house free translator—Google Translate. My Chinese friends confirmed the mistranslations in our posters. Budget permitting, they will someday ask our Lexcodians to handle the job correctly. But for now, for as long as these funny signs prevent tenants from spitting on common areas, machine translation should be (temporarily) fine.
Feeling like a foreigner in my place of residence was true until early this year. At work, most of the projects I managed were requested by China-based government agencies and companies. Now there is no denying that I have to get used to this reality. I did adjust and become more patient in communicating with non-English-speaking Chinese clients. I also became more persistent in finding professional interpreters to represent them.
Our team at eQQui, the interpretation department of Lexcode, is currently working with mostly Mandarin interpreters for major conferences. Our deployment of Chinese speakers who can interpret to English and vice versa has increased to almost 500% since 2017. For me, this proves that our country has officially become a haven for China’s economic leaders.
We usually handle business meetings and conventions with different Chinese provinces and trade organizations. Our local companies have also leveled up their services to accommodate native Chinese clients from Hong Kong or the mainland. Translation of marketing materials and online platforms and optimization of their web pages for Baidu have become regular requests, along with conference interpreters for high-profile events.
China-based companies are establishing their brands and products fiercely in different countries. They even acquire companies abroad to diversify their business portfolios. Once they penetrate an overseas market, they do not allow language to be a barrier. Just like what Lexcode’s tagline declares, language is an opportunity. The possibilities presented by the rising Chinese population in this country is impossible to ignore. So eQQui, as a team, continues to look for creative ways and bright solutions to offer so we could respond quickly to this growing demand for Chinese bilinguals. I am learning a lot as I witness this change happening in our country. My only hope is that, as a nation, we become wiser in leading our business affairs and welfare, so that we can secure positive impacts from any foreign cooperation.