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Chinese-Filipina girl wearing the Maria Clara gown, the traditional gown of Filipina women
|At least 1.5 million are of pure Chinese ancestry.|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Metro Manila, Baguio, Metro Iloilo-Guimaras, Central Visayas, Metro Davao
Negros, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Cagayan de Oro
Vigan, Laoag, Laguna, Rizal, Lucena, Naga, Zamboanga City, Sulu
|Filipino, English and other languages of the Philippines
Hokkien, Hokaglish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Teochew, Hakka Chinese, various other varieties of Chinese
|Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, P.I.C, Iglesia ni Cristo), Buddhism, Islam, Daoism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Sangley, Overseas Chinese|
Chinese Filipinos (Filipino: Pilipinong Tsino, Tsinoy [tʃɪnoɪ] or Intsik [ɪntʃɪk]) are Filipinos of Chinese descent, mostly born and raised in the Philippines. Chinese Filipinos are one of the largest overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia. There are approximately 1.5 million Filipinos with pure Chinese ancestry, or around 1.8% of the population. In addition, Sangleys—Filipinos with at least some Chinese ancestry—comprise a substantial minority of the Philippine population, although the actual figures are not known.
Chinese Filpinos are a well established middle class ethnic group and are well represented in all levels of Filipino society. Chinese Filipinos also play a leading role in the Philippines's business sector and dominate the Filipino economy today.
The term "Chinese Filipino" may or may not be hyphenated. The website of the organization Kaisa para sa Kaunlaran (Unity for Progress) omits the hyphen, adding that Chinese Filipino is the noun where "Chinese" is an adjective to the noun "Filipino." The Chicago Manual of Style and the APA, among others, also recommend dropping the hyphen. When used as an adjective, "Chinese Filipino" may take on a hyphenated form or may remain unchanged.
There are various universally accepted terms used in the Philippines to refer to Chinese Filipinos:
Other terms being used with reference to China include:
During the Spanish Colonial Period, the term Sangley was used to refer to people of unmixed Chinese ancestry while the term Mestizo de Sangley was used to classify persons of mixed Chinese and indigenous Filipino ancestry; both are now out of date in terms of usage.
"Indigenous Filipino", or simply "Filipino", is used in this article to refer to the Austronesian inhabitants prior to the Spanish Conquest of the islands. During the Spanish Colonial Period, the term Indio was used.
The Chinese Filipinos has always been one of the largest ethnic groups in the country with Chinese immigrants comprising the largest group of immigrant settlers in the Philippines. They are one of the three major ethnic groupings in the Philippines, namely: Christian Filipinos (73% of the population-including indigenous ethnic minorities), Muslim Filipinos (5% of the population) and Chinese Filipinos (27% of the population-including Chinese mestizos). Today, most Chinese Filipinos are locally born. The rate of intermarriage between Chinese settlers and indigenous Filipinos is among the highest in Southeast Asia, exceeded only by Thailand. However, intermarriages occurred mostly during the Spanish colonial period because Chinese immigrants to the Philippines up to the 19th century were predominantly male. It was only in the 20th century that Chinese women and children came in comparable numbers. Today, Chinese Filipino male and female populations are practically equal in numbers. These Chinese mestizos, products of intermarriages during the Spanish colonial period, then often opted to marry other Chinese or Chinese mestizos . Generally, Chinese mestizos is a term referring to people with one Chinese parent.
By this definition, the ethnically Chinese Filipinos comprise 1.8% (1.5 million) of the population. This figure however does not include the Chinese mestizos who since Spanish times have formed a part of the middle class in Philippine society nor does it include Chinese immigrants from the People's Republic of China since 1949.
Ethnic Chinese sailed around the Philippine Islands from the 9th century onward and frequently interacted with the local Filipinos. Chinese and Filipino interactions initially commenced as bartering and item exchanges done on Chinese sampans. This is evidenced by a collection of Chinese artifacts found throughout Philippine waters, dating back to the 10th century.
Many Chinese subsequently created settlements in Luzon and in the Visayas, some of which became the biggest and most powerful barangays, or city-states in the Philippines. Many datus, rajahs, and lakans (indigenous rulers) in the Philippines were themselves a product of the intermarriage between the Chinese merchant-settlers and the local Filipinos. They eventually formed the group which is to be called Principalía during the Spanish period, and were given privileges by the Spanish colonial authorities.
Visayans even invaded a portion of Formosa (modern Taiwan), where such Visayan chiefs of Formosa raided the Chinese coasts during the 12th century showing the might of the pre-colonial Filipinos.
When the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, there was already a significant population of Chinese migrants due to the relationship between the barangays (city-states) of the island of Luzon, and the Ming dynasty.
The first encounter of the Spanish authorities with the Chinese was not entirely pleasant - several Chinese pirates under the leadership of Limahong, who proceeded to besiege the newly established Spanish capital in Manila in 1574. He tried to capture the city of Manila in vain and was subsequently beaten by the combined Spanish and native forces under the leadership of Juan de Salcedo in 1575. Almost simultaneously, the Chinese imperial admiral Homolcong arrived in Manila where he was well received. On his departure he took with him two priests, who became the first Catholic missionaries to China from the Philippines. This visit was followed by the arrival of Chinese ships in Manila in May 1603 bearing Chinese officials with the official seal of the Ming Empire. This led to suspicion on the part of the Spaniards that the Chinese had sent a fleet to try to conquer the nearly defenseless islands. However, seeing the city as strongly defended as ever, the Chinese made no hostile moves. They returned to China without showing any particular motive for the journey, and without either side mentioning the apparent motive. Fortifications of Manila were started, with a Chinese settler in Manila named Engcang, who offered his services to the governor. He was refused, and a plan to massacre the Spaniards quickly spread among the Chinese inhabitants of Manila. The revolt was quickly crushed by the Spaniards, ending in a large-scale massacre of the non-Catholic Chinese in Manila. Throughout the Spanish Colonial Period, the Chinese outnumbered the Spanish colonizers by ten to one, and at least I\on two occasions tried to grab the power, but their revolts were quickly put down by joint forces composed of indigenous Filipinos, Japanese, and Spanish.(p138)
Following the mostly unpleasant initial interaction with the Spaniards, most ethnic Chinese in Manila and in the rest of the Philippines started to focus on retail trade and service industry in order to avoid massacres and forced deportations to China. The Spanish authorities started restricting the activities of the Chinese immigrants and confined them to the Parían near Intramuros. With low chances of employment and prohibited from owning land, most of them engaged in small businesses or acted as skilled artisans to the Spanish colonial authorities. Most of the Chinese who arrived during the early Spanish period were Cantonese from "Canton, Nyngo, Chincheo, and Macau", who worked as stevedores and porters, as well as those skilled in the mechanical arts. From the mid-19th century, the Hokkienese migrants from Fujian would surpass and vastly outnumber the Cantonese migrants.
The Spanish authorities differentiated the Chinese immigrants into two groups: Parían (unconverted) and Binondo (converted). Many immigrants converted to Catholicism, and due to the lack of Chinese women, intermarried with indigenous women, and adopted Hispanized names and customs. The children of unions between indigenous Filipinos and Chinese were called Mestizos de Sangley or Chinese mestizos, while those between Spaniards and Chinese were called Tornatrás. The Chinese population originally occupied the Binondo area although eventually they spread all over the islands, and became traders, moneylenders, and landowners.
During the waning years of Spanish colonization in the Philippines in the 19th century, the Philippines was referred to as an "Anglo-Chinese colony with a Spanish flag" in reference to the majority of the colony's trade and industry being conducted by the Chinese while exports were controlled by British merchants. It was during this period that the population of the Mestizos de Sangley (Chinese mestizos) greatly increased. During the Philippine Revolution of 1898, they would eventually refer to themselves as Filipino, which during that time referred to Spaniards born in the Philippines. The Chinese mestizos would later fan the flames of the Philippine Revolution. Many leaders of the Philippine Revolution themselves have substantial Chinese ancestry. These include Emilio Aguinaldo, Andrés Bonifacio, Marcelo del Pilar, Antonio Luna, José Rizal, and Manuel Tinio.
An estimated 27% of the present-day Philippine population have some Chinese ancestry stemming from this period.
During the American colonial period, the Chinese Exclusion Act in the United States was also put into effect in the Philippines Nevertheless, the Chinese were able to settle in the Philippines with the help of other Chinese Filipinos, despite strict American law enforcement, usually through "adopting" relatives from Mainland or by assuming entirely new identities with new names.
The privileged position of the Chinese as middlemen of the economy under Spanish colonial rule quickly fell, as the Americans favored the principalía (educated elite) formed by Chinese mestizos and Spanish mestizos. As American rule in the Philippines started, events in Mainland China starting from the Taiping Rebellion, Chinese Civil War, and Boxer Rebellion led to the fall of the Qing Dynasty, which led thousands of Chinese from Fujian province in China to migrate en masse to the Philippines to avoid poverty, worsening famine, and political persecution. This group eventually formed the bulk of the current population of unmixed Chinese Filipinos.
Beginning World War II, Chinese soldiers and guerrillas joined in the fight against the Japanese Imperial Forces during the Japanese Occupation in the Philippines (1941–1945). On April 9, 1942, many Chinese Filipino Prisoners of War were killed by Japanese Forces during the Bataan Death March after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942. Chinese Filipinos were integrated in the U.S. Armed Forces of the First & Second Filipino Infantry Regiments of the United States Army. After the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942, when Chinese Filipinos was joined the soldiers is a military unit of the Philippine Commonwealth Army under the U.S. military command is a ground arm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was started the battles between the Japanese Counter-Insurgencies and Allied Liberators from 1942 to 1945 to fought against the Japanese Imperial forces. Some Chinese-Filipinos joined the soldiers were integrated of the 11th, 14th, 15th, 66th & 121st Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Philippines - Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL) under the military unit of the Philippine Commonwealth Army started the Liberation in Northern Luzon and aided the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Abra, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya and attacking Imperial Japanese forces. Many Chinese-Filipinos joined the guerrilla movement of the Philippine-Chinese Anti-Japanese guerrilla resistance fighter unit or Wa Chi Movement, the Ampaw Unit under by Colonel Chua Sy Tiao and the Chinese-Filipino 48th Squadron since 1942 to 1946 to attacking Japanese forces. Thousands of Chinese Filipino soldiers and guerrillas died of heroism in the Philippines from 1941 to 1945 during World War II. Thousands of Chinese Filipino Veterans are interred in the Shrine of Martyr's Freedom of the Filipino Chinese in World War II located in Manila. The new-found unity between the ethnic Chinese migrants and the indigenous Filipinos against a common enemy - the Japanese, served as a catalyst in the formation of a Chinese Filipino identity who started to regard the Philippines as their home.
The election of Ferdinand Marcos to the Philippine presidency brought forth much of the changes within the Chinese Filipino community.
Following the recognition of the People's Republic of China as the sole representative of the Chinese government, and at the same time fearful of harboring Chinese nationals whose loyalty will shift to the newly recognized Communist government, Marcos ordered a revision of all existing nationality laws which led to an easier acquisition of Philippine citizenship, which most Chinese Filipinos took advantage of. This signified a major leap for the community, majority of which now owes loyalty to Manila, rather than to Taipei or Beijing.
In relation to this, Chinese schools, which were governed by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China (Taiwan), were transferred under the jurisdiction of the Philippine government's Department of Education. Virtually all Chinese schools were ordered closed or else to limit the time allotted for Chinese language, history, and culture subjects from 4 hours to 2 hours, and instead devote them to the study of Filipino languages and culture. This method of teaching persists to this very day. Marcos' policies eventually led to the formal assimilation of the Chinese Filipinos into mainstream Filipino society. Following People Power Revolution (EDSA 1), the Chinese Filipinos quickly gained national spotlight as Cory Aquino, a Chinese Filipino, eventually became president.
The mass nationalization of ethnic Chinese during the 1970s eventually led to the eventual assimilation of the Chinese Filipinos as an integral part of the Philippines.
However, there were still pressing problems that face the community. Despite President Aquino's Chinese ancestry, the initial proliferation of anti-Chinese sentiments among some Filipinos and the sudden attainment of freedom from Martial Law under President Marcos led to several crimes being committed against Chinese Filipinos. These include rampant extortion, kidnapping, and even murder. All these led to the formation of the first Chinese Filipino organization, Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (Unity for Progress) by Teresita Ang-See,[n 1] which called for mutual understanding between the ethnic Chinese and the native Filipinos. Aquino encouraged free press and cultural harmony, a process which led to the burgeoning of the Chinese-language media.
While anti-Chinese sentiments were toned down, crimes against the Chinese Filipinos, particularly kidnapping, further blossomed throughout the presidencies of Fidel Ramos (1992–1998), and Joseph Estrada (1998–2000). The police remained unsympathetic to the Chinese Filipinos, while many government officials were found to be accomplices. The combination of these factors led many Chinese Filipinos to emigrate back to China, or to either Canada or the United States. An increasing number of Chinese Filipinos also actively sought political seats to protect and promote Chinese interests.
Virtually all Chinese in the Philippines belong to either the Hokkienese- or Cantonese-speaking groups of the Han Chinese ethnicity. Most Filipino-Chinese now are second or third generation, natural-born Philippine citizens who can still look back to their Chinese roots and have Chinese relatives both in China as well as in other Southeast Asian or Australasian or North American countries.
Chinese Filipinos who are classified as Minnan people (福建人) have ancestors who came from Fujian province and speak one of the Minnan dialects. They form the bulk of Chinese settlers in the Philippines after the Spanish Colonial Period, and settled primarily in Metro Manila and key cities in Luzon such as Angeles, Baguio, Dagupan, Ilagan, Laoag, Lucena, Tarlac, and Vigan, as well as in major Visayan and Mindanao cities such as Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Dumaguete, General Santos, Iligan, Iloilo, Ormoc, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, and Zamboanga.
In 1603 there was a large massacre of around 20,000 Chinese, mostly of Fujianese Hoklo descent. The location was in Manila's Parian de los Sangleyes (the Chinese quarter), and in 1639 another huge mass killing of Chinese of Minnan origin.
Minnan peoples are more popularly known as "Hokkienese", or "Fujianese" in English, or Lan-nang, Lán-lâng, Bân-lâm, Fújiànren in Chinese. The Minnan form 98.7% of all unmixed ethnic Chinese in the Philippines. Of the Minnan peoples, about 75% are from Quanzhou prefecture (specifically, Jinjiang City), 23% are from Zhangzhou prefecture, and 2% are from Xiamen City. Minnan peoples started migrating to the Philippines in large numbers from the early 1800s and continue to the present, eventually outnumbering the Cantonese who had always formed the majority Chinese dialect group in the country.
The Minnan (Hokkienese) currently dominate the light industry and heavy industry, as well as the entrepreneurial and real estate sectors of the economy. Many younger Minnan people are also entering the fields of banking, computer science, engineering, finance, and medicine.
To date, most emigrants and permanent residents from Mainland China, as well as the vast majority of Taiwanese people in the Philippines are Minnan (Hokkienese) people.
Closely related to the Hokkienese people are the Teochew (潮州人: Chaozhouren). They began to migrate in small numbers to the Philippines during the Spanish Period, but were eventually absorbed by intermarriage into the mainstream Hokkienese.
Chinese Filipinos who are classified as Cantonese people (廣府人; Yale Gwóngfúyàhn) have ancestors who came from Guangdong province and speak one of the Cantonese dialects. They settled down in Metro Manila, as well as in major cities of Luzon such as Angeles, Naga, and Olongapo. Many also settled in the provinces of Northern Luzon (e.g., Benguet, Cagayan, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte).
The Cantonese (Guangdongnese) people (Keńg-tang-lâng, Guǎngdōngren) form roughly 1.2% of the unmixed ethnic Chinese population of the Philippines, with large numbers of descendants originally from Taishan city, Macau, and nearby areas. Many are not as economically prosperous as the Minnan (Hokkienese). Barred from owning land during the Spanish Colonial Period, most Cantonese were into the service industry, working as artisans, barbers, herbal physicians, porters (coulis), soap makers, and tailors. They also had no qualms in intermarrying with the local Filipinos and most of their descendants are now considered Filipinos, rather than Chinese or Chinese mestizos. During the early 1800s, Chinese migration from Cantonese-speaking areas in China to the Philippines trickled to almost zero, as migrants from Hokkienese-speaking areas gradually increased, explaining the gradual decrease of the Cantonese population. Presently, they are into small-scale entrepreneurship and in education.
There are also some ethnic Chinese from nearby Asian countries and territories, most notably Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong who are naturalized Philippine citizens and have since formed part of the Chinese Filipino community. Many of them are also Hokkien speakers, with a sizeable number of Cantonese and Teochew speakers.
The exact number of all ethnic Chinese in the Philippines is unknown. Various estimates have been given from the start of the Spanish Colonial Period up to the present ranging from as low as 1% to as large as 18-27%, including the Chinese mestizos and Filipinos who have Chinese ancestry. The National Statistics Office does not conduct surveys of ethnicity.
According to a research report by historian Austin Craig who was commissioned by the United States in 1915 to ascertain the total number of the various races of the Philippines, the pure Chinese, referred to as Sangley, number around 20,000 (as of 1918), and that around one-third of the population of Luzon have partial Chinese ancestry. This comes with a footnote about the widespread concealing and de-emphasising of the exact number of Chinese in the Philippines.
Another source dating from the Spanish Colonial Period shows the growth of the Chinese and the Chinese mestizo population to nearly 10% of the Philippine population by 1894.
|Race||Population (1810)||Population (1850)||Population (1894)|
|indio (i.e., indigenous Filipino)||2,395,677||4,725,000||6,768,000|
|mestizo de sangley (i.e., Chinese mestizo)||120,621||240,000||500,000|
|sangley (i.e., Unmixed Chinese)||7,000||10,000||100,000|
|Peninsular (i.e., Spaniard)||4,000||25,000||35,000|
The vast majority (74.5%) of Chinese Filipinos speak either Filipino or English as their first languages. The majority of Chinese Filipinos (77%) still retain the ability to understand and speak Hokkien as a second or third language.
The use of Minnan (Hokkien) as first language is seemingly confined to the older generation, as well as in Chinese families living in traditional Chinese bastions, such as Binondo in Manila and Caloocan. In part due to the increasing adoption of Philippine nationality during the Marcos era, most Chinese Filipinos born from the 1970s up to the mid-1990s tend to use Filipino or other Philippine regional languages, frequently admixed with both Minnan and English. Among the younger generation (born mid-1990s onward), the preferred language is English. Recent arrivals from Mainland China or Taiwan, despite coming from traditionally Minnan-speaking areas, typically use Mandarin among themselves.
Unlike other Overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia which featured a multiplicity of dialect groups, Chinese Filipinos descend overwhelmingly from Minnan-speaking regions in Fujian province. Hence, Minnan (Hokkien) remains the ‘’lingua franca’’ among Chinese Filipinos. Mandarin, however, is perceived as the prestigious dialect, and it is used in all official and formal functions within the Chinese community, despite the fact that very few Chinese are conversant in Mandarin.
For the Chinese mestizos, Spanish used to be the important commercial language and the preferred first language at the turn of the century. Starting from the American period, the use of Spanish gradually decreased and is now completely replaced by either English or Filipino.
Since most of the Chinese in the Philippines trace their ancestry to the southern part of Fujian province in China, Minnan, otherwise known as Hokkienese is the lingua franca of Chinese Filipinos.
The variant of Minnan or Hokkienese spoken in the Philippines, Philippine Hokkien, is called locally as lan-lang-oe, meaning, "our people's language". Philippine Hokkien is mutually intelligible with other Minnan variants in China, Taiwan, and Malaysia, and is particularly close to the variant of Minnan spoken in Quanzhou. Its unique features include the presence of loanwords (Spanish, English, and Philippine language), excessive use of colloquial words (e.g., piⁿ-chu病厝: literally, "sick-house", instead of the Standard Minnan term pīⁿ-īⁿ: hospital; or chhia-tao: literally, "car-head", instead of the Standard Minnan term su-ki), and use of words from various variants within Minnan (such as Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, and Xiamen).
Due to the relatively small population of Chinese Filipinos who are Cantonese, most of them, especially the new generation, never learned Cantonese.
Mandarin is the medium of instruction of Chinese subjects in Chinese schools in the Philippines. However, since the language is rarely used outside of the classroom, most Chinese Filipinos would be hard-pressed to converse in Mandarin, much less read books using Chinese characters.
As a result of longstanding influence from the Ministry of Education of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Council of the Republic of China (Taiwan) since the early 1900s up to 2000, the Mandarin variant taught and spoken in the Philippines closely mirror that of Taiwan. While Traditional Chinese characters and the Bopomofo phonetic system are still used, instead of the Simplified characters and Pinyin phonetic system currently being used in both Mainland China and Singapore.
The vast majority of the Chinese in the Philippines are fluent in English - and around 30% of all Chinese Filipinos, mostly those belonging to the younger generation, use English as their first language.
As with English, the majority of Chinese Filipinos speak the Philippine language of the region where they live (e.g., Chinese Filipinos living in Manila speak Tagalog). Many Chinese Filipinos, especially those living in the provinces, speak the regional language of their area as their first language.
Spanish was an important language of the Chinese-Filipino, Chinese-Spanish, and Tornatras (Chinese-Spanish-Filipino) mestizos during most of the 20th century. Most of the elites of Philippine society during that time was made up of both Spanish mestizos and Chinese mestizos.
Many of the older generation Chinese (mainly those born before WWII), whether pure or mixed, can also understand some Spanish, due to its importance in commerce and industry.
Chinese Filipinos or Filipino-Chinese have a trilingual facility which they use in everyday life. During informal, as well as local business transactions, codeswitching between Minnan (Philippine Hokkien), English, and Filipino is very common and comes naturally, as a result of having to maintain command of all three languages in the spheres of home, school, and greater Philippine society. Other places where this code-switching is observed are academic institutions, restaurants, religious institutions, phone calls, and houses.
Lately, the phenomenon has garnered the interest of linguists like Wilkinson Daniel Wong Gonzales, who coined the phenomenon as Hokaglish (combination of Hokkien, Tagalog, and English), which was then known as sa-lam-tsam (or mixed language). Lately, he argues that this phenomenon is becoming a language of its own due to peculiarities from the phonological to the syntactic and even pragmatic level.
Chinese Filipinos are unique in Southeast Asia in being overwhelmingly Christian (83%). Almost all Chinese Filipinos, including the Chinese mestizos but excluding recent immigrants from either Mainland China or Taiwan, had or will have their marriages in a Christian church.
Majority (70%) of Christian Chinese Filipinos are Roman Catholics. Many Catholic Chinese Filipinos still tend to practice the traditional Chinese religions side by side with Catholicism, due to the openness of the Church in accommodating Chinese beliefs such as ancestor veneration.
Unique to the Catholicism of Chinese Filipinos is the religious syncretism that is found in Chinese Filipino homes. Many have altars bearing Catholic images such as the Santo Niño (Child Jesus) as well as statues of the Buddha and Taoist gods. It is not unheard of to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary using joss sticks and otherwise Buddhist offerings, much as one would have done for Guan Yin or Mazu.
Many Chinese Filipino schools are founded by Protestant missionaries and churches.
Chinese Filipinos comprise a large percentage of membership in some of the largest evangelical churches in the Philippines, many of which are also founded by Chinese Filipinos, such as the Christ's Commission Fellowship, Christian Bible Church of the Philippines, Christian Gospel Center, United Evangelical Church of the Philippines, and the Youth Gospel Center.
In contrast to Roman Catholicism, Protestantism forbids traditional Chinese practices such as ancestor veneration, but allows the use of meaning or context substitution for some practices that are not directly contradicted in the Bible (e.g., celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with moon cakes denoting the moon as God's creation and the unity of families, rather than the traditional Chinese belief in Chang'e). Many also had ancestors already practicing Protestantism while still in China.
Unlike ethnic Filipino-dominated Protestant churches in the Philippines which have very close ties with North American organizations, most Protestant Chinese Filipino churches instead sought alliance and membership with the Chinese Congress on World Evangelization, an organization of Overseas Chinese Christian churches throughout Asia.
A small number of Chinese Filipinos (2%) continue to practise traditional Chinese religions solely.  Mahayana Buddhism, specifically, Chinese Pure Land Buddhism Taoism and ancestor worship (including Confucianism) are the traditional Chinese beliefs that continue to have adherents among the Chinese Filipinos.
Buddhist and Taoist temples can be found where the Chinese live, especially in urban areas like Manila.[n 2] Veneration of the Guanyin (觀音), known locally as Kuan-im either in its pure form or seen a representation of the Virgin Mary is practised by many Chinese Filipinos.
Around half (40%) of all Chinese Filipinos regardless of religion still claim to practise ancestor worship. The Chinese, especially the older generations, have the tendency to go to pay respects to their ancestors at least once a year, either by going to the temple, or going to the Chinese burial grounds, often burning incense and bringing offerings like fruits and accessories made from paper.
There are very few Chinese Filipino Muslims, most of whom live in either Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago, and have intermarried or assimilated with their Moro neighbors. Many of them have attained prominent positions as Islamic political leaders. They include Datu Piang, Abdusakur Tan, and Michael Mastura, among such others.
Others are also members of the Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witnesses, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some younger generations of Chinese Filipinos also profess to be atheists.
There are 150 Chinese schools that exist throughout the Philippines, slightly more than half of which operate in Metro Manila. Chinese Filipino schools have an international reputation for producing award-winning students in the fields of science and mathematics, most of whom reap international awards in mathematics, computer programming, and robotics olympiads.
The first school founded specifically for Chinese in the Philippines, the Anglo-Chinese school (now known as Tiong Se Academy) was opened in 1899 inside the Chinese Embassy grounds. The first curriculum called for rote memorization of the four major Confucian texts Four Books and Five Classics, as well as Western science and technology. This was followed suit by the establishment of other Chinese schools, such as Hua Siong College of Iloilo established in Iloilo in 1912, the Chinese Patriotic School established in Manila in 1912 and also the first school for Cantonese Chinese, Saint Stephen's High School established in Manila in 1915 and was the first sectarian school for the Chinese, and Chinese National School in Cebu in 1915.
Burgeoning of Chinese schools throughout the Philippines as well as in Manila occurred from the 1920s until the 1970s, with a brief interlude during World War II, when all Chinese schools were ordered closed by the Japanese, and their students were forcibly integrated with Japanese-sponsored Philippine public education. After World War II, the Philippines and the Republic of China signed the Sino-Philippine Treaty of Amity, which provided for the direct control of the Republic of China (Taiwan)'s Ministry of Education over Chinese schools throughout the archipelago.
Such situation continued until 1973, when amendments made to the Philippine Constitution effectively transferred all Chinese schools to the authority of the Republic of the Philippines' Department of Education. With this, the medium of instruction was shifted from Mandarin Chinese to English. Teaching hours relegated to Chinese language and arts, which featured prominently in the pre-1973 Chinese schools, were reduced. Lessons in Chinese geography and history, which were previously subjects in their own right, were integrated with the Chinese language subjects, whereas, the teaching of Filipino and Philippine history, civics, and culture became new required subjects.
The changes in Chinese education initiated with the 1973 Philippine Constitution led to the large shifting of mother tongues and assimilation of the Chinese Filipinos to general Philippine society. The older generation Chinese Filipinos who were educated in the old curriculum typically used Chinese (e.g., Hokkien and Cantonese) at home, while most younger generation Chinese Filipinos are more comfortable conversing in either English or Filipino admixed with Chinese.
Chinese Filipino schools typically feature curriculum prescribed by the Philippine Department of Education. The limited time spent in Chinese instruction consists largely of language arts.
The three core Chinese subjects are 華語 (Mandarin: Huáyŭ; Hokkien: Hoâ-gí, English: Chinese Grammar), 綜合 (Mandarin: Zōnghé; Hokkien: Chong-ha'p; English: Chinese Composition), and 數學 (Mandarin: Shùxué; Hokkien: Sòha'k; English: Chinese Mathematics). Other schools may add other subjects such as 毛筆 (Mandarin: Máobĭ; Hokkien: Mô-pit; English: Chinese calligraphy) . Chinese history, geography, and culture are integrated in all the three core Chinese subjects - they stood as independent subjects of their own before 1973. All Chinese subjects are taught in Mandarin Chinese, and in some schools, students are prohibited from speaking English, Filipino, or even Hokkien during Chinese classes.
Many Chinese Filipino schools are sectarian, being founded by either Roman Catholic or Protestant Chinese missions. These include Grace Christian College (Protestant-Baptist), Hope Christian High School (Protestant-Evangelical), Immaculate Conception Academy (Roman Catholic-Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception), Jubilee Christian Academy (Protestant-Evangelical), LIGHT Christian Academy (Protestant-Evangelical), Makati Hope Academy (Protestant-Evangelical), MGC-New Life Christian Academy (Protestant-Evangelical), Saint Jude Catholic School (Roman Catholic-Society of Divine Word), Saint Stephen's High School (Protestant-Episcopalian), Ateneo de Iloilo, Ateneo de Cebu, and Xavier School (Roman Catholic-Society of Jesus).
Major non-sectarian schools include Chiang Kai Shek College, Manila Patriotic School, Philippine Chen Kuang School, Philippine Chung Hua School, Philippine Cultural College - the oldest Chinese Filipino secondary school in the Philippines, and Tiong Se Academy - the oldest Chinese Filipino school in the Philippines.
Chiang Kai Shek College is the only college in the Philippines accredited by both the Philippine Department of Education and the Republic of China (Taiwan) Ministry of Education.
Most Chinese Filipinos attend Chinese Filipino schools until Secondary level, and then transfer to non-Chinese colleges and universities to complete their tertiary degree, due to the dearth of Chinese language tertiary institutions.
Most Chinese Filipinos, particularly the younger generation, now follow the typical Western naming convention (given name, then family name), albeit with English first names coupled with Chinese surnames .
Many Chinese who lived during the Spanish naming edict of 1849 eventually adopted Spanish name formats, along with a Spanish given name (e.g., Florentino Cu y Chua). For some, they adopted their entire Chinese name as a surname for the entire clan (e.g., Alberto Cojuangco from 許寰哥, Khó-hoân-ko). Chinese mestizos, as well as some Chinese who chose to completely assimilate into the Filipino or Spanish culture adopted Spanish surnames.
Newer Chinese migrants who came during the American Colonial Period use a combination of an adopted Spanish (or rarely, English) name together with their Chinese name (e.g., Carlos Palanca Tan Quin Lay or Vicente Go Tam Co). This trend was to continue up to the late 1970s.
As both exposure to North American media as well as the number of Chinese Filipinos educated in English increased, the use of English names among Chinese Filipinos, both common and unusual, started to increase as well. Popular names among the second generation Chinese community included English names ending in "-son" or other Chinese-sounding suffixes, such as Anderson, Emerson, Patrickson, Washington, among such others. For parents who are already third and fourth generation Chinese Filipinos, English names reflecting American popular trends are given, such as Ethan, Austin, and Aidan.
It is thus not unusual to find a young Chinese Filipino named Chase Tan whose father's name is Emerson Tan and whose grandfather's name was Elpidio Tan Keng Kui, reflecting the depth of immersion into the English language as well as into the Philippine society as a whole.
Chinese Filipinos whose ancestors came to the Philippines from 1898 onward usually have single syllable Chinese surnames, the most common of which are Tan (陳), Ong (王), Lim (林), Go/Ngo (吳), Ng/Uy/Wong (黃), Gao/Kao (高), Chua/Cua (蔡), Sy/See/Si (施), Co (許), Lee/Dy (李), Ang/Hong/Hung (洪)and Ching/Chong (莊).
Many also took on Spanish or Filipino surnames (e.g. Bautista, De la Cruz, De la Rosa, Gatchalian, Mercado, Palanca, Robredo, Sanchez, Tagle, Torres etc.) upon naturalization. Today, it can be difficult to identify who are Chinese Filipinos based on surnames alone.
A phenomenon common among Chinese migrants in the Philippines dating from the 1900s would be purchasing of surnames, particularly during the American Colonial Period, when the Chinese Exclusion Act was applied to the Philippines. Such law led new Chinese migrants to 'purchase' the surnames of Filipinos and thus pass off as long time Filipino residents of Chinese descent, or as ethnic Filipinos. Many also 'purchased' the Alien Landing Certificates of other Chinese who have gone back to China and assumed his surname and/or identity. Sometimes, younger Chinese migrants would circumvent the Act through adoption - wherein a Chinese with Philippine nationality adopts a relative or a stranger as his own children, thereby giving the adoptee automatic Filipino citizenship - and a new surname.
On the other hand, most Chinese Filipinos whose ancestors came to the Philippines prior to 1898 use a Hispanicized surname (see below).
Chinese Filipinos, as well as Chinese mestizos who trace their roots back to Chinese immigrants to the Philippines during the Spanish Colonial Period, usually have multiple syllable Chinese surnames such as Chuacuco, Chuatoco, Chuateco, Ciacho (from Sia), Cojuangco, Corong, Cuyegkeng, Dioquino, Dytoc, Dy-Cok, Dysangco, Dytioco, Gueco, Gokongwei, Gundayao, Kimpo/Quimpo, King/Quing, Landicho, Lanting, Limcuando, Ongpin, Pempengco, Quebengco, Siopongco, Sycip, Tambengco, Tambunting, Tanbonliong, Tantoco, Tiolengco, Tiongson, Tungol, Yuchengco, Tanciangco, Yuipco, Yupangco, Licauco, Limcaco, Ongpauco, Tancangco, Tanchanco, Teehankee, Uytengsu, and Yaptinchay among such others. These were originally full Chinese names which were transliterated into Spanish and adopted as surnames.
There are also multiple syllable Chinese surnames that are Spanish transliterations of Hokkien words. Surnames like Tuazon (Eldest Grandson, 大孫), Dizon (Second Grandson, 二孫), Samson (Third Grandson, 三孫), Singson (Fourth Grandson, 四孫), Gozon (Fifth Grandson, 五孫), Lacson (Sixth Grandson, 六孫) are examples of transliterations of designations that use the Hokkien suffix -son (孫) used as surnames for some Chinese Filipinos who trace their ancestry from Chinese immigrants to the Philippines during the Spanish Colonial Period. It should be noted as well that "Son/Sun" (孫) is a surname listed in the classic Chinese text Hundred Family Surnames, perhaps shedding light on the Hokkien suffix -son used here as a surname alongside some sort of accompanying enumeration scheme.
Many Filipinos who have Hispanicized Chinese surnames are no longer full Chinese, but are Chinese mestizos.
Traditional Tsinoy cuisine, as Chinese Filipino home-based dishes are locally known, make use of recipes that are traditionally found in China's Fujian province and fuse them with locally available ingredients and recipes. These include unique foods such as hokkien chha-peng (Fujianese-style fried rice), si-nit mi-soa (birthday noodles), pansit canton (Fujianese-style e-fu noodles), hong ma or humba (braised pork belly), sibut (four-herb chicken soup), hototay (Fujianese egg drop soup), kiampeng (Fujianese beef fried rice), machang (glutinous rice with adobo), and taho (a dessert made of soft tofu, arnibal syrup, and pearl sago).
With the increasing number of Chinese with Philippine nationality, the number of political candidates of Chinese Filipino descent also started to increase. The most significant change within Chinese Filipino political life would be the citizenship decree promulgated by former President Ferdinand Marcos which opened the gates for thousands of Chinese Filipinos to formally adopt Philippine citizenship.
Chinese Filipino political participation largely began with the People Power Revolution of 1986 which toppled the Marcos dictatorship and ushered in the Aquino presidency. The Chinese have been known to vote in blocs in favor of political candidates who are favorable to the Chinese community.
Important Philippine political leaders with Chinese ancestry include the current and former presidents Rodrigo Duterte, Benigno Aquino III, Cory Aquino, Sergio Osmeña, and Ferdinand Marcos, former senators Nikki Coseteng, Alfredo Lim, and Roseller Lim, as well as several governors, congressmen, and mayors throughout the Philippines. Many ambassadors and recent appointees to the presidential cabinet are also Chinese Filipinos like Arthur Yap.
The Chinese Filipinos are mostly business owners[according to whom?] and their life centers mostly in the family business. These mostly small or medium enterprises play a significant role in the Philippine economy. A handful of these entrepreneurs run large companies and are respected as some of the most prominent business tycoons in the Philippines.
Chinese Filipinos attribute their success in business to frugality and hard work, Confucian values and their traditional Chinese customs and traditions. They are very business-minded and entrepreneurship is highly valued and encouraged among the young. Most Chinese Filipinos are urban dwellers. An estimated 50% of the Chinese Filipinos live within Metro Manila, with the rest in the other major cities of the Philippines. In contrast with the Chinese mestizos, few Chinese are plantation owners. This is partly due to the fact that until recently when the Chinese Filipinos became Filipino citizens, the law prohibited the non-citizens, which most Chinese were, from owning land.
As with other Southeast Asian nations, the Chinese community in the Philippines has become a repository of traditional Chinese culture common to unassimilated ethnic minorities throughout the world. Whereas in mainland China many cultural traditions and customs were suppressed during the Cultural Revolution or simply regarded as old-fashioned nowadays, these traditions have remained largely untouched in the Philippines.
Many new cultural twists have evolved within the Chinese community in the Philippines, distinguishing it from other overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia. These cultural variations are highly evident during festivals such as Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival. The Chinese Filipinos have developed unique customs pertaining to weddings, birthdays, and funerary rituals.
Wedding traditions of Chinese Filipinos, regardless of religious persuasion, usually involve identification of the dates of supplication/pamamanhikan (kiu-hun), engagement (ting-hun), and wedding (kan-chhiu) adopted from Filipino customs, through feng shui based on the birthdates of the couple, as well as of their parents and grandparents. Certain customs found among Chinese Filipinos include the following: During supplication (kiu-hun), a solemn tea ceremony within the house of the groom ensues where the couple will be served tea, egg noodles (misua), and given ang-paos (red packets containing money). During the supplication ceremony, pregnant women and recently engaged couples are forbidden from attending the ceremony. Engagement (ting-hun) quickly follows, where the bride enters the ceremonial room walking backward and turned three times before being allowed to see the groom. A welcome drink consisting of red-colored juice is given to the couple, quickly followed by the exchange of gifts for both families and the Wedding tea ceremony, where the bride serves the groom's family, and vice versa. The engagement reception consists of sweet tea soup and misua, both of which symbolizes long-lasting relationship. Before the wedding, the groom is expected to provide the matrimonial bed in the future couple's new home. A baby born under the Chinese sign of the Dragon may be placed in the bed to ensure fertility. He is also tasked to deliver the wedding gown to his bride on the day prior to the wedding to the sister of the bride, as it is considered ill fortune for the groom to see the bride on that day. For the bride, she prepares an initial batch of personal belongings (ke-chheng) to the new home, all wrapped and labeled with the Chinese characters for sang-hi. On the wedding date, the bride wears a red robe emblazoned with the emblem of a dragon prior to wearing the bridal gown, to which a pair of sang-hi (English: marital happiness) coin is sewn. Before leaving her home, the bride then throws a fan bearing the Chinese characters for sang-hi toward her mother to preserve harmony within the bride's family upon her departure. Most of the wedding ceremony then follows Catholic or Protestant traditions. Post-Wedding rituals include the two single brothers or relatives of the bride giving the couple a wa-hoe set, which is a bouquet of flowers with umbrella and sewing kit, for which the bride gives an ang-pao in return. After three days, the couple then visits the bride's family, upon which a pair of sugar cane branch is given, which is a symbol of good luck and vitality among Hokkien people.
Birthday traditions of Chinese Filipino involves large banquet receptions, always featuring noodles and round-shaped desserts. All the relatives of the birthday celebrant are expected to wear red clothing which symbolize respect for the celebrant. Wearing clothes with a darker hue is forbidden and considered bad luck. During the reception, relatives offer ang paos (red packets containing money) to the birthday celebrant, especially if he is still unmarried. For older celebrants, boxes of egg noodles (misua) and eggs on which red paper is placed are given.
Births of babies are not celebrated and they are usually given pet names, which he keeps until he reaches first year of age. The Philippine custom of circumcision is widely practiced within the Chinese Filipino community regardless of religion, albeit at a lesser rate as compared to ethnic Filipinos . First birthdays are celebrated with much pomp and pageantry, and grand receptions are hosted by the child's paternal grandparents.
Funerary traditions of Chinese Filipinos mirror those found in Fujian. A unique tradition of many Chinese Filipino families is the hiring of professional mourners which is alleged to hasten the ascent of a dead relative's soul into Heaven. This belief particularly mirrors the merger of traditional Chinese beliefs with the Catholic religion.
Chinese Filipinos, especially in Metro Manila, are also divided into several social types. These types are not universally accepted as a fact, but are nevertheless recognized by most Chinese Filipinos to be existent. These reflect an underlying generational gap within the community.:
Most of the Chinese mestizos, especially the landed gentry trace their ancestry to the Spanish era. They are the "First Chinese" or Sangley whose descendants nowadays are mostly integrated into Philippine society. Most are from Guangdong province in China, with a minority coming from Fujian. They have embraced a Hispanized Filipino culture since the 17th century. After the end of Spanish rule, their descendants, the Chinese mestizos, managed to invent a cosmopolitan mestizo culture coupled with an extravagant Mestizo de Sangley lifestyle, intermarrying either with ethnic Filipinos or with Spanish mestizos.
The largest group of Chinese in the Philippines are the "Second Chinese," who are descendants of migrants in the first half of the 20th century, between the anti-Manchu 1911 Revolution in China and the Chinese Civil War. This group accounts for most of the "full-blooded" Chinese. They are almost entirely from Fujian province.
The "Third Chinese" are the second largest group of Chinese, the recent immigrants from Mainland China, after the Chinese economic reform of the 1980s. Generally, the "Third Chinese" are the most entrepreneurial and have not totally lost their Chinese identity in its purest form and seen by some "Second Chinese" as a business threat. Meanwhile, continuing immigration from Mainland China further enlarge this group
Aside from their family businesses, Chinese Filipinos are active in Chinese oriented civic organizations related to education, health care, public safety, social welfare and public charity. As most Chinese Filipinos are reluctant to participate in politics and government, they have instead turned to civic organizations as their primary means of contributing to the general welfare of the Chinese community. Beyond the traditional family and clan associations, Chinese Filipinos tend to be active members of numerous alumni associations holding annual reunions for the benefit of their Chinese-Filipino secondary schools.
Outside of secondary schools catering to Chinese Filipinos, some Chinese Filipino businessmen have established charitable foundations that aim to help others and at the same time minimize tax liabilities. Notable ones include the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, Metrobank Foundation, Tan Yan Kee Foundation, Angelo King Foundation, Jollibee Foundation, Alfonso Yuchengco Foundation, Cityland Foundation, etc. Some Chinese-Filipino benefactors have also contributed to the creation of several centers of scholarship in prestigious Philippine Universities, including the John Gokongwei School of Management at Ateneo de Manila, the Yuchengco Center at De La Salle University, and the Ricardo Leong Center of Chinese Studies at Ateneo de Manila. Coincidentally, both Ateneo and La Salle enroll a large number of Chinese-Filipino students. In health care, Chinese Filipinos were instrumental in establishing and building medical centers that cater for the Chinese community such as the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, the Metropolitan Medical Center, Chong Hua Hospital and the St. Luke's Medical Center, Inc., one of Asia's leading health care institutions. In public safety, Teresita Ang See's Kaisa, a Chinese-Filipino civil rights group, organized the Citizens Action Against Crime and the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order at the height of a wave of anti-Chinese kidnapping incidents in the early 1990s. In addition to fighting crime against Chinese, Chinese Filipinos have organized volunteer fire brigades all over the country, reportedly the best in the nation. that cater to the Chinese community. In the arts and culture, the Bahay Tsinoy and the Yuchengco Museum were established by Chinese Filipinos to showcase the arts, culture and history of the Chinese.
Filipinos were initially referred to as hoan-á (番仔) by ethnic Chinese in the Philippines. It is also used in other Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Singapore by Hokkien speaking ethnic Chinese to refer to peoples of Malay ancestry. The term itself means "barbarian" since the Chinese people considered anyone beyond their borders as outsiders. Most older Chinese still use the term, while younger Chinese now use the term hui-li̍p-pin lâng (菲律宾人), which directly means, "Philippine person", or simply "Filipino".
Chinese Filipinos generally perceive the government and authorities to be unsympathetic to the plight of the ethnic Chinese, especially in terms of frequent kidnapping for ransom. While the vast majority of older generation Chinese Filipinos still remember the rabid anti-Chinese taunts and the anti-Chinese raids and searches done by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Immigration, most of the third or fourth generation Chinese Filipinos generally view the Philippine people and government positively, and have largely forgotten about the historical oppression of the ethnic Chinese. They are also most likely to consider themselves as "Filipino" and support the Philippines, rather than China or Taiwan.
Some Chinese Filipinos believe racism still exists toward their community among a minority of Filipinos, who the Chinese refer to as pai-hua (排華) in the local Minnan dialect. Organizations belonging to this category include the Laspip Movement, headed by Adolfo Abadeza, as well as the Kadugong Liping Pilipino, founded by Armando Ducat, Jr..[verification needed]
Chinese mestizos are persons of mixed Chinese and either Spanish or indigenous Filipino ancestry. They are thought to make up as much as 25% of the country's total population. A number of Chinese mestizos have surnames that reflect their heritage, mostly two or three syllables that have Chinese roots (e.g., the full name of a Chinese ancestor) with a Hispanized phonetic spelling.
During the Spanish colonial period, the Spanish authorities encouraged the Chinese male immigrants to convert to Catholicism. Those who converted got baptized and their names Hispanized, and were allowed to intermarry with indigenous women. They and their mestizo offspring became colonial subjects of the Spanish crown, and as such were granted several privileges and afforded numerous opportunities denied to the unconverted, non-citizen Chinese. Starting as traders, they branched out into landleasing, moneylending and later, landholding.
Chinese mestizo men and women were encouraged to marry Spanish and indigenous women and men, by means of dowries, in a policy to mix the races of the Philippines so it would be impossible to expel the Spanish.(p86)
In these days however, blood purity is still of prime concern in most traditional Chinese-Filipino families especially pure-blooded ones. The Chinese believe that a Chinese must only be married to a fellow Chinese since the marriage to a Filipino or any outsider was considered taboo.
Chinese marriage to Filipinos and outsiders posts uncertainty on both parties. The Chinese family structure is patriarchal hence, it is the male that carries the last name of the family which also carries the legacy of the family itself. Male Chinese marriage to a Filipina or outsider is more admissible than vice versa. In the case of the Chinese female marrying a Filipino or outsider, it may cause several unwanted issues especially on the side of the Chinese family.
In some instances, a member of a traditional Chinese-Filipino family may be denied of his or her inheritance and likely to be disowned by his or her family by marrying an outsider without their permission. However, there some are exceptions wherein intermarriage to a Filipino or outsider is acceptable if the Filipino's family is well-off and/or influential.
On the other hand, modern Chinese-Filipino families allow their children to marry Filipinos. However, many of them would still prefer that the Filipino would have some or little Chinese blood.
Like much of Southeast Asia, ethnic Chinese dominate Filipino commerce at every level of society. Chinese Filipinos wield a tremendous economic clout unerringly disproportionate to their small population size over their indigenous Filipino majority counterparts and play a critical role in maintaining the country's economic vitality and prosperity. With their powerful economic prominence, the Chinese virtually make up the country's entire wealthy elite. Chinese Filipinos in the aggregate, represent a disproportionate wealthy, market-dominant minority not only form a distinct ethnic community, they also form, by and large, an economic class: the commercial middle and upper class in contrast to the poorer indigenous Filipino majority working and underclass. Entire posh Chinese enclaves have sprung up in major Filipino cities across the country, literally walled off from the poorer indigenous Filipino masses guarded by heavily armed, private security forces.
Ethnic Chinese have been major players in the Filipino business sector for centuries. Chinese economic dominance of the Filipino economy dates back to the pre-Spanish and American colonial era. Long before Spanish conquest of the country, Chinese merchants carried on trading activities with native communities along the coast of modern Mainland China. By the time the Spanish arrived, Chinese controlled all the trading and commercial activities, serving as retailers, artisans, and providers of food for various Spanish settlements. During the American colonial epoch, ethnic Chinese controlled a large percentage of the retail trade and internal commerce of the country. They predominated the retail trade and owned 75 percent of the 2,500 rice mills scattered along the Filipino islands. Total resources of banking capital held by the Chinese was $27 million in 1937 to a high of $100 million in the estimated aggregate, making them second to the Americans in terms of total foreign capital investment held. Under Spanish rule, Chinese were willing to engage in trade and other business activities. They were responsible for introducing sugar refining devices, new construction techniques, moveable type printing, and bronze making. Chinese also provided fishing, gardening, artisan, and other trading services. Many Chinese were drawn to business as they were prohibited from owning land and saw the only way out of poverty was through business and entrepreneurship, to take charge of their own financial destinies by becoming self-employed as vendors, retailers, traders, collectors, and distributors of goods and services.
Mainly attracted by economic opportunity during the first four decades of the 20th century, American colonization of the Philippines allowed the Chinese to secure their economic clout among their entrepreneurial pursuits. The implementation of a free trade policy between the Philippines and the United States allowed the Chinese to take advantage of a burgeoning Filipino consumer market. As a result, Chinese Filipinos were able to capture a significant market share by expanding their business lines in which they were the major players and ventured into newly flourishing industries such as industrial manufacturing and financial services. The majority of Filipino industrial manufacturing companies that produce the processing of coconut products, flour, food products, textiles, plastic products, footwear, glass, as well as heavy industry products such as metals, steel, industrial chemicals, paper products, paints, leather, garments, sugar refining, timber processing, construction materials, food and beverages, rubber, plastics, semiconductors, and personal computers are owned by the Chinese. In 1965, Chinese Filipinos controlled 32 percent of the top industrial manufacturing firms.
As Chinese Filipino entrepreneurs became more financially prosperous, they often pooled large amounts of seed capital and started joint ventures with Overseas Chinese business moguls and investors from all over the world. Filipino Chinese businesses link up with other ethnic Overseas Chinese businesses and networks concentrate on various industry sectors such as real estate development, engineering, textiles, consumer electronics, financial services, food, semiconductors, and chemicals. Chinese Filipino entrepreneurs are particularly strong adherents to the Confucian paradigm of intrapersonal relationships. Many Chinese Filipino entrepreneurs have a proclivity to reinvest most of their business profits for expansion. A small percentage of the firms were managed by Chinese with entrepreneurial talent, were able to grow their small enterprises into gargantuan conglomerates. The term "Chinoy" is used in Filipino newspapers to refer to individuals with a degree of Chinese parentage who either speak a Chinese dialect or adhere to Chinese customs. Constituting an estimated 1.3 percent of the country's population, ethnic Chinese have a disproportionate impact on the economy and government. Stores and restaurants around the country owned by most of the leading entrepreneurs featured in Manila newspapers are of Chinese extraction. Filipinos of ethnic Chinese origin control an estimated 50 to 60 percent of non-land share capital in the Philippines, and as much as 35 percent of total sales are attributed to the largest public and private firms controlled by ethnic Chinese. Ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs are estimated to control 60 to 70 percent of the Filipino economy. They essentially focus on sectors such as semiconductors and chemicals, real estate, land, and property development, banking, engineering, construction, fiber, textiles, finance, consumer electronics, food, and personal computers. In the Philippines, ethnic Chinese are estimated to control over one-third of the 1000 largest corporations. In the Philippines, Chinese entrepreneurs control 47 of the 68 locally owned public companies. 55 percent of overall Filipino private business is also generated by ethnic Chinese. Chinese owned companies account for 66 percent of the sixty largest commercial entities. Ethnic Chinese also dominate the Filipino telecommunications industry, where one of the current significant players in the industry is taipan John Gokongwei, whose conglomerate company JG Summit Holdings controls 28 wholly owned subsidiaries with interests ranging from food and agro-industrial products, hotels, insurance brokering, financial services, electronic components, textiles and garments, real estate, petrochemicals, power generation, printing services, newspaper, packaging materials, detergent products, and cement. Gokongwei started out in food processing in the 1950s, venturing into textile manufacturing in the early 1970s, and then became active in real estate development and hotel management in the late 1970s. In 1976, Gokongwei established the Manila Midtown Hotels and now controls the Cebu Midtown hotel chain and the Manila Galeria Suites. In addition, he also owns substantial interests in PCI Bank and Far East Bank as well as one of the nation's oldest newspapers, The Manila Times. Gokongwei's eldest daughter became publisher of the newspaper in December 1988 at the age of 28, at which during the same time her father acquired the paper from the Roceses, a Spanish Mestizo family.
Chinese Filipinos control the country's most lucrative corporate sectors such as the Philippines four major airlines, banks, hotels, shopping malls, and major business conglomerates. They also dominate the shipping, textiles, construction, real estate, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and personal computer industries as well as the country's wholesale distribution networks and six out of the ten English-language newspapers in Manila, including the one with the largest circulation. Of the 66 percent remaining part of the economy in the Philippines held by either ethnic Chinese or Filipinos, the Chinese control 35 percent of all total sales. Among the nation's 35 banks, ethnic Chinese on average control 35 percent of total banking equity. The Chinese are also involved in the processing and distribution of pharmaceutical products. More than 1000 firms are involved in this industry, with most being small and medium-sized companies with a total capitalization of 1.2 billion pesos. The Chinese also dominate food processing with approximately 200 firms in this industry and exporting their finished products to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. More than 200 companies are also involved in the production of paper, paper products, fertilizers, cosmetics, rubber products, and plastics. By 1986, Chinese Filipino entrepreneurs controlled 45 percent of the nations top 120 domestic manufacturing companies. These companies are mainly involved in tobacco and cigarettes, soap and cosmetics, textiles, and rubber footwear. Chinese Filipino entrepreneurs are particularly strong adherents to the Confucian paradigm of intrapersonal relationships.
In the secondary industry, 75 percent of the country's 2,500 rice mills were Chinese-owned. Chinese Filipino entrepreneurs were also dominant in wood processing, and accounted for over 10 percent of the capital invested in the lumber industry as also accounted for 40 percent of the industry's annual output and controlled nearly all the sawmills in the nation. Emerging import-substituting light industries would see the rise of active participation of Chinese entrepreneurs and owned several-salt works and a large number of small and medium-sized factories engaged in food processing as well as the production of leather and tobacco goods. By the early 1960s, Chinese presence in the manufacturing sector became significant. Of the businesses that employed 10 or more workers, 35 percent were Chinese-owned, and, in another study of 284 enterprises employing more than 100 workers, 37 percent were likewise Chinese-owned. Of the 163 domestic companies, 80 were Chinese-owned and included the manufacture of coconut oil, food products, tobacco, textiles, plastic products, footwear, glass, and certain types of metals such as tubes and pipes, wire rods, nails, bolts, and containers while the Filipinos dominated sugar, rolling mills, industrial chemicals, fertilizers, cement, galvanizing plants, and tin plates. In terms of industry distribution, Chinese firms account for a third of the manufacturing sector.
In 1940, Chinese Filipinos were estimated to control 70 percent of the country's retail trade and 75 percent of the nation's rice mills. By 1948, the Chinese economic standing began to elevate even further wielding considerable influence as ethnic Chinese held a considerable percentage of the total commercial investment, 55 percent of the retail trade, and 85 percent of the lumber sector. After the end of the Second Sino-Japanese war, Chinese Filipinos controlled 85 percent of the nation's retail trade. Ethnic Chinese also had controlled 40 percent of the importing and the retail trade with controlling interests in banking, oil refining, sugar milling, cement, tobacco, flour milling, glass, dairying, auto manufacturing and electronics. Although the Filipino Hacienderos also have extensive businesses, Filipino Chinese had economic power exploding with the pro-market reforms of the late 1980s and 1990s by the Marcos administration. Today, Filipino Chinese control all of the Philippines's largest and most lucrative department store chains, major supermarkets, and fast-food restaurants, including securing the rights for the world-famous McDonald's franchise and the Jollibee fast food chain which was founded by a Chinese Filipino. Jollibee has since then expanded its operations by setting up subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Brunei, and Indonesia. In the 1980s. ethnic Chinese began to veer their participation in large-scale retailing and ethnic Chinese emerged as one of the largest department store owners in the Philippines. One example is Rustan's, one of the most prestigious department store brands in the Philippines. Filipino business magnates Henry Sy's Shoe Mart and John Gokongwei's Robinson's expanded rapidly, eventually evolving into shopping malls in various parts of Metro-Manila. The Chinese Filipino taipan Lucio Tan began his business career in the cigarette industry and then catapulted himself into the major leagues after venturing into banking in 1977. Tan, whose flagship company Fortune Tobacco controls the largest market share of cigarette distribution in the country is now one richest men in the Philippines. Tan has since then diversified into real estate and property development, hotels (Century Park Sheraton), and controls a majority interest in Philippine Airlines (PAL).
Since the 1970s, Chinese Filipino entrepreneurs have managed to re-establish themselves as the dominant players in the Filipino retail sector and with an estimated 8,500 Chinese-owned retail and wholesale firms. In terms of industry distribution, small and medium size Chinese firms account for half of the retail trade sector, with 49.45 percent of the retail sector alone being controlled by Henry Sy's Shoemart and the remaining share of the retail sector is dominated by a few larger firms that include thousands of small retail subsidiaries.  In addition, there are also roughly 3,000 fast food outlets and restaurants, especially those specializing in Chinese cuisine have attracted foreign investments from Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Chinese Filipino business magnate, Henry Sy built his business empire out of his Shoe Mart department store chain, now has business interests in banking where he is majority owner of Banco de Oro, a commercial bank as well as owning substantial interest in China Banking Corporation, a bank that offers seed capital catering to the needs of Chinese Filipino businessmen. A third of the top 500 companies on the Philippines stock exchange are Chinese-owned. Of the top 1000 firms, Chinese Filipinos owned 36 percent. Among the top 100 companies, 43 percent were owned by Chinese-Filipinos. Between 1978 and 1988, Chinese controlled 146 of the country's 494 top companies. The Chinese Hokkien community tended to run capital intensive businesses such as banks, international shipping, rice mills, dry goods, and general stores while the Cantonese gravitated towards the hotel, restaurant, and laundry enterprises. Chinese Filipinos increased their role in domestic commercial sector acting as an intermediary of connecting producers with the consumer in the exchange of goods. They did it as a tight-knit group in an enclosed system by setting up their own distribution networks, locating major players, geographical coverage, location characteristics, business strategies, staff recruitment, store proliferation, and trade organizations. Chinese retailers controlled a disproportionate share of several local goods such as rice, lumber products, and alcoholic drinks. Some traders also branched into retailing these products into rice milling, logging, saw-milling, distillery, tobacco, coconut oil processing, footwear making, and agricultural processing. The domestic economy began to broaden by Chinese business activities and also brought new forms of entrepreneurship by venturing into new growth areas of the Filipino economy. In the food and beverage industry, San Miguel Corporation, a Spanish Filipino-owned corporation founded in 1851 supplies the country's entire beverage needs. Two Chinese Filipino owned businesses, namely Lucio Tan's breweries and John Gokongwei's Universal Robina, along with a couple of lesser known beverage providers are now competing with other to gain the largest share in the Filipino food and beverage market.
Chinese Filipinos have also dominated the Filipino financial services sector and have been in the banking sector since the early part of the 20th century. The two earliest banks started were China Bank and the Mercantile Bank of China, established in 1920 and 1924 respectively. The majority of the Philippines' principal banks are now Chinese-controlled, including Philippine Savings Bank and most notably Metrobank Group owned by businessman George Ty, the country's largest and most aggressive financial conglomerate. By the mid-1990s ethnic Chinese controlled 40 percent of the national corporate equity. In terms of industry distribution, Chinese firms account for a quarter of the financial services sector. There are also 23 Chinese-owned insurance companies, with some branches overseas and in Hong Kong. The majority of the country's nine principal banks are owned by Chinese Filipinos, such as the Allied Banking Corporation, Banco de Oro group, China Banking Corporation (Chinabank), East West Banking Corporation, Metrobank group, Philippine Trust Company (Philtrust Bank), Rizal Commercial Banking group, Security Bank Corporation (Security Bank), and the United Coconut Planters Bank. Most of these banks comprise a larger part of an umbrella owned family conglomerate with assets exceeding $100 billion pesos. The total combined assets of all the Chinese-Filipino commercial banks account for 25.72 percent of all the total assets in the entire Filipino commercial banking system.
Of the 500 real estate firms in the Philippines, 120 are Chinese-owned and mostly specialize in real estate development and construction and are concentrated in Metropolitan Manila. The Chinese dominated the Filipino real estate and property sectors which for a long time been controlled by the Spanish Filipinos. Initially, ethnic Chinese were not allowed to own land until acquiring Filipino citizenship in the 1970s. Presently, many of the biggest real estate developers in the Philippines are of Chinese lineage. Large projects such as the Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong and the Tagaytay Highlands Golf Club and Resort development in Tagatay City were such joint projects. These partnerships were largely forged by ethnic Chinese tycoons such as the Chinese Indonesian business magnate Liem Sioe Liong, Malaysian businessman Robert Kuok, and Chinese Filipino tycoons Andrew Gotinun, Henry Sy, George Ty, and Lucio Tan.
Chinese Filipinos also pioneered the shipping industry in the Philippines which eventually became a major industry sector as a means of transporting goods cheaply and quickly between the islands. The Chinese are dominant in the shipping industry and in sea transport as sea transport was one of the few methods of transporting goods cheaply and quickly across a country, with the Philippines being an archipelago, comprising more than 1000 islands and inlets. There are 12 Chinese Filipino families engaged in inter-island transport and shipping, particularly with the shipping of food products requiring refrigeration with a capitalization of 10 billion pesos. Taiwanese expatriate investors have participated in various joint ventures, opening up route between Manila and Cebu. Important shipping firms owned by the ethnic Chinese include Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Gothong Lines, Lite Shipping Corporation, Sulpicio Lines which was associated with recent tragedy that lead to deaths of hundreds, and Trans-Asia Shipping Lines. One enterprising and pioneering Chinese Filipino was William Chiongbian, who established William Lines in 1949, which by the end of 1993, was the most profitable inter-island shipping company ranking first in gross revenue generated as well as net income among the country's seven biggest shipping firms. The inter-island shipping industry is dominated by four Chinese-owned shipping lines led by William Chiongbian's William Lines. Likewise, Chinese Filipinos own all of the major airlines of the Philippines, including the flagship carrier Philippine Airlines, AirphilExpress, Cebu Pacific, South East Asian Airlines, Manila Air and Zest Air.
As ethnic Chinese economic might grew, much of the indigenous Filipino majority were gradually driven out into poorer land on the hills, on the outskirts of major Filipino cities or into the mountains. Disenchantment grew among the displaced indigenous Filipinos who felt they were unable compete with ethnic Chinese businesses. Underlying resentment and bitterness from the impoverished Filipino majority has been accumulating as there has been no existence of indigenous Filipino having any substantial business equity in the Philippines. Decades of free market liberalization brought virtually no economic benefit to the indigenous Filipino majority but rather the opposite resulting a subjugated indigenous Filipino majority underclass, where the vast majority still engage in rural peasantry, menial labor, or domestic service and squatting. The Filipino government has dealt with this wealth disparity by establishing socialist and communist dictatorships or authoritarian regimes while pursuing a systematic and ruthless affirmative action campaigns giving privileges to the indigenous Filipino majority during the 1950s and 1960s. The rise of economic nationalism among the impoverished indigenous Filipino majority prompted by the Filipino government resulted the passing of the Retail Trade Nationalization Law of 1954, where ethnic Chinese were barred and pressured to move out of the retail sector restricting engagement to Filipino citizens only. In addition, the Chinese were prevented from owning land by restricting land ownership to Filipinos only. Other restrictions on Chinese economic activities included limiting Chinese involvement in the import-export trade while trying to increase the indigenous Filipino involvement to gain a proportionate presence. In 1960, the Rice and Corn Nationalization Law was passed restricting trading, milling, and warehousing of rice and corn only to Filipinos while barring Chinese involvement, in which they initially had a significant presence. These policies ultimately backfired on the government as the laws had an overall negative impact on the government tax revenue which dropped significantly because the country's biggest taxpayers were Chinese, who eventually took their capital out of the country to invest elsewhere. The increased economic clout held in the hands of the Chinese has triggered suspicion, instability, ethnic hatred, and anti-Chinese hostility among the indigenous ethnic Filipino majority towards the Chinese minority. Such hostility has resulted the kidnapping of hundred's of Chinese by ethnic Filipinos since the 1990s. Many victims, often children are often brutally murdered, even after a ransom is paid. Numerous incidents of crimes such kidnap-for-ransom, extortion and other forms of harassment were committed against the Chinese Filipino community starting in the early 1990s continues to this very day. Thousands of displaced Filipino hill tribes and aborigines continue to live in satellite shantytowns on the outskirts of Manila in economic destitution where two-thirds of the country's ethnic Filipino's live on less than 2 dollars per day in extreme poverty. Such hatred, envy, grievance, insecurity, and resentment is ready at any moment to be catalyzed by the indigenous Filipino majority as many Chinese Filipino's are subject to kidnapping, vandalism, murder, and violence. Anti-Chinese sentiment among the indigenous Filipino majority is deeply rooted in poverty but also feelings of resentment and exploitation are also exhibited among ethnic Filipinos blaming their socioeconomic failures on the Chinese.
Most of the younger generations of pure Chinese Filipinos are descendants of Chinese who migrated during the 1800s onward - this group retains much of Chinese culture, customs, and work ethic (though not necessarily language), whereas almost all Chinese mestizos are descendants of Chinese who migrated even before the Spanish colonial period, and have been integrated and assimilated into the general Philippine society as a whole.
There are four trends that the Chinese Filipinos would probably undertake within a generation or so:
During the 1970s, Fr. Charles McCarthy, an expert in Philippine-Chinese relations, observed that "the peculiarly Chinese content of the Philippine-Chinese subculture is further diluted in succeeding generations", and he made a prediction that "the time will probably come, and it may not be far off, when, in this sense, there will no more 'Chinese' in the Philippines".
Assimilation is defined as the adoption of the cultural norms of the dominant or host culture, while integration is defined as the adoption of the cultural norms of the dominant or host culture while maintaining their culture of origin.
As of the present day, due to the effects of globalization in the Philippines, there has been a marked tendency to assimilate to Filipino lifestyles influenced by the US, among ethnic Chinese. This is especially true for younger Chinese Filipinos living in Metro Manila who are gradually shifting to English as their preferred language, thus identifying more with North American culture, at the same time speaking Chinese among themselves. Similarly, as the cultural divide between Chinese Filipinos and other Filipinos erode, there is a steady increase of intermarriages with ethnic Filipinos, with their children completely identifying with the Filipino culture and way of life. Assimilation is gradually taking place in the Philippines, albeit at a slower rate as compared to Thailand.
On the other hand, the largest Chinese Filipino organization, the Kaisa para sa Kaunlaran openly espouses eventual integration but not assimilation of the Chinese Filipinos with the rest of Philippine society and clamors for maintaining Chinese language education and traditions.
Meanwhile, the general Philippine public is largely neutral regarding the role of the Chinese Filipinos in the Philippines, and many have embraced Chinese Filipinos as fellow Philippine citizens and even encouraged them to assimilate and participate in the formation of the Philippines' destiny.
Separation is defined as the rejection the dominant or host culture in favor of preserving their culture of origin, often characterized by the presence of ethnic enclaves. The current Chinese Filipino community is better described as a "separated community" in reference to the general Philippine society at large, and this is the present status quo.
The recent rapid economic growth of both China and Taiwan as well as the successful business acumen of Overseas Chinese have fueled among many Chinese Filipinos a sense of "Chinese pride" through immersion and regaining interest in Chinese culture, customs, values, and language while remaining in the Philippines.
Despite the community's inherent ethnocentrism - there are no active proponents for political separation, such as autonomy or even independence, from the Philippines, partly due to the small size of the community relative to the general Philippine population, and the scattered distribution of the community throughout the archipelago, with only half residing in Metro Manila.
Many Chinese-Filipino entrepreneurs and professionals have flocked to their ancestral homeland to partake of business and employment opportunities opened up by China's emergence as a global economic superpower.
As above, the fast economic growth of China and the increasing popularity of Chinese culture has also helped fan pro-China patriotism among a majority of Chinese Filipinos who espouse ai guo ai xiang sentiments (love of ancestral country and hometown). Some Chinese Filipinos, especially those belonging to the older generation, still demonstrate ai guo ai xiang by donating money to fund clan halls, school buildings, Buddhist temples, and parks in their hometowns in China.
During the 1990s to the early 2000s, Philippine economic difficulties and more liberal immigration policies in destination countries have led to well-to-do Chinese Filipino families to acquire North American or Australasian passports and send their children abroad to attend prestigious North America or Australasian Universities. Many of these children are opting to remain after graduation to start professional careers in North America or Australasia, like their Chinese brethren from other parts of Asia.
Many Philippine-educated Chinese Filipinos from middle-class families are also migrating to North America and Australasia for economic advantages. Those who have family businesses regularly commute between North America (or Australasia) and the Philippines. In this way, they follow the well-known pattern of other Chinese immigrants to North America who lead "astronaut" lifestyles: family in North America, business in Asia.
With the increase in political stability and economic growth in Asia, this trend is becoming significantly less popular for Chinese Filipinos.
Explorations by early navigators, descriptions of the islands and their peoples, their history and records of the catholic missions, as related in contemporaneous books and manuscripts, showing the political, economic, commercial and religious conditions of those islands from their earliest relations with European nations to the close of the nineteenth century. — From their discovery by Magellan in 1521 to the beginning of the XVII Century; with descriptions of Japan, China and adjacent countries, by Dr. ANTONIO DE MORGA, Alcalde of Criminal Causes, in the Royal Audiencia of Nueva Espana, and Counsel for the Holy Office of the Inquisition.
Explorations by early navigators, descriptions of the islands and their peoples, their history and records of the catholic missions, as related in contemporaneous books and manuscripts, showing the political, economic, commercial and religious conditions of those islands from their earliest relations with European nations to the close of the nineteenth century.
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