Understanding the Role Of Chinese in Filipino Culture


Since it's Chinese New Year, one must understand the history of Filipino-Chinese in the Philippines. As culture evolves, cultural exchange happens. Like it or not, even before the Spanish came, the Chinese already traded with the pre-colonial natives. Pinoy natives have traded with the Chinese merchants. In the process, Chinese traders would have introduced porcelain and silk as part of the trading process to the natives.

Later on, some Chinese still stayed even after Spain had claimed the archipelago, naming it after King Philip I of Spain. An infamous incident led to the massacre of some Chinese but that didn't stop their history. Overtime, some Chinese have had their surnames changed, some married into Spanish and Filipino occupants. Later on, some of those who would rebel against the Spanish Empire were also Chinese.

In the history of Chinese people who became Filipinos, hence Filipino-Chinese, we get some important figures. My history teacher stated that Jose Rizal was mostly Chinese by blood and he was a part of fighting for reforms for a better state. Later on, he also mentioned that other important figures of Filipino history either had Chinese blood or were mostly Chinese by blood. The revolutionary had people with Chinese blood namely Emilio Aguinaldo, Andres Bonifacion (though he was only 25% Chinese), Tomas Pinpin the father of the Filipino printing press, Marcelo del Pilar, Ignacio Paua and Manuel Tinio. Most of the people I mentioned were 50% and up Chinese.

In the shape of Chinese culture, the Philippines still continued to integrate Chinese culture even after the Spanish were expelled by the American forces. Since the earlier Chinese were business minded some of the greatest businessmen were also Chinese. A lot of Chinese still continued to create businesses. Even during Japanese occupation, American occupation up to present, some Chinese became part of the Filipino people hence the term Filipino-Chinese. In my case, my grandparents on both sides had already been in the Philippines during World War 2. They passed through Japanese rule and the American Commonwealth period.

One may consider how Filipino culture got influenced by Chinese culture. The business sectors are mostly Filipino-Chinese ran. Some Pinoy businessmen practice the Chinese way of doing business. You have Philippine-made products that run through Chinese influence like porcelain, silk, ampao, slippers, umbrellas, noodles, siomai and siopao. Some Filipino delicacy distributors are also Chinese. In spite of being Chinese by blood, these businessmen are still considered Filipino nonetheless.

If it wasn't for the Filipino-Chinese, the Philippines could have sunk deeper than it has today.

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