Certainly, complexities have multiplied since 1936, the year Sy left Jinjiang, a town near Xiamen in China, for the Philippines to join his father, the proprietor of a tiny grocery store in Manila. Dad was dirt-poor. "I cried when I first saw him," Sy recalls. Each night, the 12-year-old boy would clear the counter so that he would have a place to sleep. In the 1950s, Sy peddled cheap American shoes in his own Manila store, whose brass cash register today sits in a corner of his office as a reminder of his earlier struggles.