Gems of History

True or False: Most, if not all, Chinese in the Philippines are businessmen

In the minds of many people, there is a prevailing perception that most, if not all, the Chinese in our country are businessmen. But is it true?

Based on the 1903 census, among the 41,035 Chinese in the Philippines, there were 2,931 cooks, 2,508 carpenters, 1,363 shoemakers, 1,355 messengers, 998 servants, 549 bakers, 495 blacksmiths, 357 launderers, 331 kutseros, 327 tailors, 302 stevedores, 284 barbers, 226 sewers, 221 gardeners, 107 tinsmiths and 95 butchers.

In addition, there were 4,707 Chinese laborers in various industries, as well as 374 farmers or farm workers and 62 fishermen.

Even in the business sectors, although there were 13,761 merchants in 1903, there were also 5,954 Chinese storekeepers.

With the above data, can we say that the Chinese in our country are all born businessmen?

First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 15, no. 15 (January 7, 2003): 5.