Culture Tsinoy Culture

Kaisa: An undertaking of trust

Exactly 22 years ago today, on Jan. 19, 1999, the Kaisa Heritage Center and Bahay Tsinoy, a museum of Chinese in Philippine life, housed in the three-story Kaisa-Angelo King Heritage Center Building, formally opened to the public with the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino as the guest of honor.

The “mother” organization, Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran, administers the day-to-day operation of the Center and the Museum. There is, however, another group – the Kaisa Heritage Foundation, composed of big donors of KHC – that supervises operations and provides maintenance and operational support for the center and museum. The seed money for the purchase of the lot, as well as the initial construction mobilization funds, were advanced by the Angelo King Foundation to make sure that the project could be started as Kaisa launched the fundraising campaign in the Tsinoy community.

Bahay Tsinoy Museum, Tsinoys in Nationa-Building Section

Therefore, the center itself is a product of collective Tsinoy community efforts, with funds raised from all sectors and organizations of various persuasions, as well as individuals from all walks of life. So in truth, KHC is truly owned by the whole Chinese-Filipino community. It is of the community, by the community and for the community. Kaisa, the initiator of the project, is now the caretaker in charge of KHC’s day-to-day operations. We greatly appreciate the trust given to Kaisa by the Tsinoy community.

To signify the ownership, as well as the responsibility of the community to the center, the KHF was organized and a board of trustees was elected and formed. The land and the building were later registered under the name of the KHF. The members of the board came from among KHC donors and the ranks of past Kaisa presidents and incumbent officers elected annually to assist the board in its functions.

Bahay Tsinoy Museum, Kitchen, Bahay na Bato Section

The KHF is also the keeper of raised funds and donations, and provides and allots operational funding for the center. Just like the center, the foundation’s fund is considered as a public and community fund and is managed as well as monitored by the KHF Board of Trustees.

With the help of the late and respected Washington SyCip, one of KHC’s big donors and lifetime trustee of the foundation, the KHF’s finances is audited by accounting firm SGV & Co. through its active partner Julie Mateo.

Kaisa has built many bridges since it was organized in 1987. The KHC with its showcase, the Bahay Tsinoy, is the biggest and the most significant and long-lasting bridge it has erected. The past and present officers and members continue their efforts in maintaining the museum and continuing the myriad, diverse, and far-reaching Kaisa activities. They show, through combined efforts, that Kaisa has not failed the trust the community placed upon the organization.

(Updated from the original article published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest, 19 January-01 February 2016, vol. 28 nos. 15-16).