THE myriad encomiums recently heaped on chess player Wesley So were nothing short of overwhelming. A report in the SunStar said Mr. So “stunned the chess world” after winning over Magnus Carlsen at the World Fischer Random Chess Championship in Norway on Nov. 3. Filipino chess officials were beside themselves, using adjectives like “awesome,” “amazing,” “spectacular” and going as far as to compare him with the legendary Bobby Fischer.
They glossed over the fact that Wesley has been representing the US since 2014 by saying that “his blood is still Filipino.” No one seemed to think that, with a surname like that, he obviously also has Chinese blood. One chess official declared that Wesley is “proud of his roots,” going on to mention that he even wore a Barong Tagalog at another chess event. He was described as a role model for Filipino youth aspiring to hit big time in the chess world.
It seems that Wesley became disgruntled with the Philippine National Chess Federation some five years ago and so switched his allegiance to the US. Details about what upset him are sketchy. Whether he’s now an American citizen and resides in the US isn’t clear.
All this brings to mind 2018 Miss Universe Catriona Gray who was born in Australia of a Scottish father and a Filipina mother. She grew up and spent her formative years in Cairns, a city in Australia’s semi-tropical northern region. Almost 5’10” tall, she’s been described as a model and a singer who studied music theory briefly in the US.
When Catriona decided to go to her mother’s country to compete for the Miss Universe crown, it didn’t seem to matter that she barely knew Tagalog. Filipinos embraced the lanky lass as one of their own, happy to have someone who looked like many of the Western cookie-cutter type of glamorous girls.
It’s not clear which Catriona considers her real home, Australia or the Philippines. Perhaps, it doesn’t matter whether she feels more loyal to one country over another. After all, there is such things as dual citizenship. (By Isabel T. Escoda)