This article illustrates the interface of ethnic identities and a multi-ethnic learning environment in a predominantly Chinese society. Hong Kong – whilst reputed as an Asian international city – has displayed reticence in promoting multicultural initiatives and inclusiveness at a policy level. In this context, this study draws on a sociocultural perspective and interviews with a group of ethnic minority Filipino secondary school students. The interview data point to juxtapositions of ethnic identities with reference to students’ interactions with peers from same and different ethnic groups, ethnic in-group practices, and a schooling discourse that reflects Chinese language expectations and recognition of cultural diversity. The analysis, as a result, specifies how schooling experiences in this case become grounds for identity tensions in being a Filipino and a Hong Kong person. These tensions caution against tacit sociocultural relations in learning environments resulting from school-initiated multicultural practices without broader and explicit policy support for culturally diverse student population. Copyright © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.