Chinese in PH Local History

Facts and myths about Chinese in PH economy  

Excerpted from “Chinese in the Philippine economy: Facts and myths” published in Tulay Monthly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 1, no. 12 (May 14, 1989): 5.

  1. Ninety percent of the Chinese in the Philippines are productive citizens permanently residing in this country. Therefore, their capital and their businesses are part of the native economy. Their profits are re-invested into this country instead of being repatriated to mother companies abroad. Part of their earnings are spent in this country for their own consumer needs since they live here.
  2. There are no Chinese in vital industries like fuel and power generation. We all know who owns the fuel companies in this country and we all know that an increase in the price of fuel has a spiraling effect on all other basic commodities. We also know who owns the power company without which all businesses could grind to a halt.
  3. There are no Chinese in another very vital industry – mass transportation like jeepneys and buses. We all know what a stranglehold jeepneys and buses have on our economy because when they go on massive strike, all other businesses are paralyzed.
  4. The Chinese are “dominant” in the trading business (buy and sell), due to historical experience — that was the only venue opened to them during colonial times. They are successful in this field because they have been there much earlier than native Filipinos – not out of choice but due to deliberate colonial policies.
  5. The Chinese are also successful in such light manufacturing industries as textile, winery, cigar and cigarettes and such businesses as lumber, hardware and flour trading because, again, of historical consequences — they were the pioneers in these fields. Long before others dared to venture into unexplored areas, the Chinese already risked their capital, sacrificed their comforts, poured their sweat and blood as pioneers in these businesses. Now, we begrudge them of their well-earned successes.
  6. The high-profile business magnates like Henry Sy, John Gokongwei and the Gaisanos are all in the fast turn over department store business. They need the publicity to boost their sales. The rest of the Chinese are quietly doing their share in spurring this country to be the next miracle of Asia.
  7. The homogeneity of the Chinese community is a big myth. The Chinese in Manila is vastly different from the Chinese in the provinces and the urban Chinese are just as different from the rural Chinese. Cutthroat competition and rivalry among Chinese businessmen are as keen, if not even keener, than among Filipinos. How can there be “dominance” by people who cannot even agree among themselves, much less work together?
  8. Less than 30 percent of Chinese businessmen are members of the different trade associations or chambers of commerce. The different trade associations are organized mainly to protect its members in case of outside threats (time and again, it has been proven that a minority is never stronger than when it is being threatened). They cannot act as a “cartel” to monopolize a particular trade because they would fight each other belligerently when profit is at stake.
  9. Not all Chinese are in businesses. While Filipinos are scrambling to get US/Canadian/Australian visas, Chinese-Filipino professionals are shining in their fields and serving our own country to the best of their abilities. Many of our best architects, engineers, doctors, nurses, and even educators are Filipinos of Chinese descent.
  10. There are young Chinese Filipinos abroad. They are just like any of our overseas workers who left home to earn precious dollars to support their families, not in China or in Taiwan, but in the Philippines where their homes are.
  11. Jollibee hamburger, Cosmos orange, Sarsi, Blend 45, Mercury Drug, National Book Store, Manila Bulletin, Philippine Star, Daily Globe, and many others are not less Filipino just because they are produced/owned by Filipinos of Chinese descent. This is a lesson we all must learn and learn quickly.

The Philippines has been exhausting all means to entice foreign investments into this country but the domestic capital in the hands of the local Chinese are not fully tapped yet. What is more beneficial than using domestic capital that need not repatriate part of the profits abroad?

The local Chinese never indulged themselves in racist pastimes or they could defend themselves and say that 10 Gokongweis and 10 Henry Sy’s cannot compare with the Spanish Filipinos like the Sorianos-Ayalas-Zobels who own Makati, the Aranetas who own Cubao, the Tuazohs who own a large part of Quezon City, the Halilis of Pampanga, and many others.

We are all Filipinos regardless of our ancestries and cultural heritages. The earlier we learn this lesson, the earlier we can mobilize all sectors of society to work for the greater future of our country.