|Cardinal Sin • José Rizal • General Manuel Tinio
Corazon Aquino • Amy Chua
Wesley So• Chris Tiu
(1.3% of the Philippine population)
|Regions with significant populations|
(Metro Cebu, Metro Manila, Angeles, Batangas, Bacolod, Davao, Iligan, Iloilo, Lucena, Sulu, Tarlac, Vigan, Zamboanga)
|Related ethnic groups|
A Filipino Chinese (simplified Chinese: 华菲; traditional Chinese: 華菲; pinyin: Huáfēi; Hokkien: Huâ-hui; Cantonese: Wàhfèi; Tagalog/Filipino: "Tsinoy" (pronounced [tʃɪnoɪ]) derived from two words: "Tsino" (meaning "Chinese") and "Pinoy" (the slang word for "Filipino") is a Filipino of Chinese ethnicity but born/raised in the Philippines.
Many, if not all people in the Philippines, including Chinese Filipinos themselves, use and accept the term "Filipino Chinese"/"Filipino-Chinese". However, this is inconsistent with US English usage, on which Philippine English is largely based. Despite its inconsistency with American English, the term remains to be the officially accepted reference in the Philippines.
The term "Filipino Chinese" 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. For instance, when hyphenated, "Chinese-Filipino community," "Chinese-Filipino Catholic," or "Chinese-Filipino student." Chicago style, on the other hand, explicitly advises against using the hyphen even when "Chinese Filipino" is used as an adjective. For instance, "Chinese Filipino student" and "Chinese Filipino community", but "Chinese-Filipino Catholic" or "Chinese-Filipino Buddhist" given that three consecutive words are capitalized and that Filipino in that sense is linked to Chinese rather than being an adjective to Catholic or Buddhist.
Different terminologies are used to refer to Chinese Filipinos, as follows:
There are also a variety of Chinese terms in use:
Philippine Nationals of Chinese descent
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term Mestizo de Sangley was used to classify persons of mixed Chinese and indigenous Filipino ancestry; both are now out of date in terms of usage.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" is used in this article to refer to the original 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 Filipino 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 (22% 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/Chinese mestizos (as was the case with the ancestors of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal). Generally, Chinese mestizos is a term referring to people with a partial Chinese ancestry.
By this definition, the ethnically Chinese Filipinos comprise 1.3% (1.1 million) of the population. This figure however does not include the Chinese mestizos who since Spanish times have formed the middle class in Philippine society nor does it include Chinese immigrants from the People's Republic of China since 1949.
Most Chinese in the Philippines belong to either the Fujianese or Cantonese dialect groups of the Han Chinese ethnicity. Most unmixed Chinese in the Philippines come from the province of Fujian in China and are thus called Fujianese, or Hoklo. They speak the Lan-lang (Philippine) variant of the Minnan Chinese dialect, which is further subdivided into several sub-dialects. The most common Minnan (Southern Fujianese) dialect in the Philippines is the Xiamen dialect, which is mutually intelligible with the Quanzhou dialect, another common dialect in the Philippines. The rest of the unmixed Chinese in the Philippines are mostly of Cantonese origin, with large numbers of descendants originally from the Taishan city of Guangdong province in Southern China. They speak the Cantonese dialect group/language, although many are raised to speak only the Minnan dialect. Most are not as economically prosperous as their Fujianese cousins in Philippine society. Some ghettoes of the Cantonese people are found in Santa Mesa, Manila and in Tondo. There are also a minority of Cantonese who have Portuguese ancestry - they are the Macanese from Macau. Other non-resident Chinese in the Philippines, such as expatriates and envoys are of Beijing, Shanghainese, and Hunanese origin.
Chinese mestizos are persons of mixed Chinese and either indigenous Malay or Spanish (or both) ancestry. They make up 20% of the country's total population (those who are pure blooded or at least 50% Chinese make up at least 2% of the 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. The Chinese mestizos may also be known as Tsinoys (alternatively spelled as "Chinoy"), although this term may also refer to the full-blooded Chinese Filipinos; and/or Chinito, a term that largely denotes physical characteristics (referring to slanted eyes) rather than ethnic origin or cultural orientation. During Spanish times, they were legally classified as Mestizo de Sangley which was printed on their cedulas or community tax certificates.
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 Malay 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 both the unconverted Chinese or the indigenous Filipinos. With their colonial privileges, the Chinese mestizos became much more successful economically than the indigenous population. Starting as traders, they branched out into land leasing, money lending and later landholding.
Today, most of the mestizos in the Philippines trace their ancestry to these Chinese immigrants and not Spanish settlers despite their Spanish-sounding names. This was due in part to Spanish policies imposing racial segregation on the residents of the colony but most importantly, this was due to the tendency of Chinese Mestizos to preserve and protect their culture and Chinese identity. There are also a number of Filipinos in today's society who claim themselves to be Chinese mestizos.
Most of the Chinese in the Philippines trace their ancestry to the southern part of Fujian province. The Lan-lang variant of Min Nan, also known as Hokkien or Lán-lâng-oē (咱人話; "our people's language"), is the lingua franca of the Chinese Filipino community. The rest are descendants of migrants from Guangdong, Hong Kong, or Taiwan. The other Chinese dialects that can be heard in the Chinese-Filipino communities are Mandarin Chinese (which is taught in Chinese schools in the Philippines and spoken in varying degrees of fluency by Chinese Filipinos), Taiwanese (which is mutually intelligible with the Quanzhou and Xiamen dialects), and Cantonese. The vast majority of the Chinese in the Philippines are also fluent in English as well as Tagalog, and for those residing outside of Metro Manila, the local language of the region, like Ilokano, Cebuano (Cebu, Davao, Iligan, and Zamboanga), and Chabacano.
The Chinese in the Philippines are mostly business owners 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. They are practically everywhere. 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 Chinese from owning land.
As with other Southeast Asian nations, the Chinese community in the Philippines has become a repository of traditional Chinese culture. Whereas in Mainland China many cultural traditions and customs have been suppressed by the Cultural Revolution or simply regarded as old-fashioned and obsolete, 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 funerary and wedding customs as well.
While the older generation practiced the ancient customs of imperial and feudal China, the younger generation have adapted to more modern lifestyles. Traditional customs such as ancestor worship are still practiced today through family shrines and clans associations.
The Chinese Filipinos are unique in Southeast Asia in being overwhelmingly Christian. Almost all Chinese Filipinos, including the Chinese Mestizo but excluding the recent immigrants, had or will have their marriages in a Christian church. This proves that the majority of Chinese Filipinos have been baptized in a Christian church, with Catholics forming the largest group.
However, many of Chinese-Filipino Catholics still tend to practice the traditional Chinese religions side by side with Catholicism, although a small number of people practising solely traditional Chinese religions do exist as well. Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism and ancestor worship (including Confucianism) are the traditional Chinese beliefs that continue to have adherents among the Chinese Filipinos. Some may even have Jesus Christ as well as Buddha statues or Taoist gods in their altars. It is not unheard of to venerate the blessed Virgin Mary using joss sticks and Buddhist offerings, much as one would have done for Mazu. Buddhist-Taoist temples can be found where the Chinese live, especially in urban areas like Manila, and the Chinese 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. Some Chinese-Filipino Catholics do have problems with this religious duality, but due to Christian proselytization, the elderly vastly outnumber the young in the Chinese temples in the Philippines.
A comparatively large number of Chinese Filipinos are also Protestants. Chinese Filipinos comprise a large percentage of membership in some of the largest evangelical churches in the Philippines like Christ's Commission Fellowship and Greenhills Christian Fellowship. The United Evangelical Church of the Philippines, was founded by Chinese Filipinos, and they form the majority of worshippers.
Aside from their family businesses, Chinese Filipinos are active in 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-Filipino community and to the betterment of Philippine society. 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 to benefit Philippine society. Notable ones include the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, Metrobank Foundation, Tan Ya 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 renowned medical centers in the country including the Chinese General Hospital, the Metropolitan Hospital, the Angelo King Medical Center at De La Salle University's Health Sciences Campus, Chong-Hua Hospital and the St. Luke's Medical Center, 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, Chinese Filipinos have organized volunteer fire brigades all over the country, reportedly the best in the nation. 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 Chinese Filipinos and the Philippines.
Most Chinese Filipinos today have single syllable Chinese surnames, the most common of which are Tan (陳),Poa/Pua (潘), Ong (王), Lim (林), Go/Ngo (吳), Ng/Uy/Wee (黃), Gao/Kao (高), Chua/Cua (蔡), Sy/See/Si (施), Co (許) and Lee/Dy (李). 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, Cojuangco, Ongpin, Quebengco, Tambengco, Tanbonliong, Tantoco, Yuchengco, Dyloco, Dytoc, and Yupangco, 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 translations of hokkien words. Surnames like Tuazon (Eldest Grandson), Dizon (Second Grandson), Samson (Third Grandson), Singson (Fourth Grandson), Gozon (Fifth Grandson), Lacson (Sixth Grandson) are examples of Hokkien words with Spanish translations used as surnames for some Chinese Filipinos who trace their ancestry from Chinese immigrants to the Philippines during the Spanish Colonial Period also. In contrast, more recent immigrants have single syllable Chinese surnames. Many Chinese mestizos (as well as Spanish-Chinese and Tornatras) have also either inherited or took on Spanish or indigenous surnames, such as Martines, Madrigal, Santos, Quetula, Delos Reyes, Portillo or Zarate. A lot of Chinese Filipinos also took on Filipino surnames the moment they were naturalized. Today, it is difficult to identify who are Chinese Filipinos based on surnames alone. To determine who Chinese Filipinos are, one should know their background and family history and culture.
Presence of peoples from the Chinese mainland in the Philippines has been evident since during the Ice Age, when a land bridge enabled many people from southern China to settle in the Philippines, bringing the ancestors of most Filipinos. But they are not to be confused for the later Sinitic-speaking peoples (ethnic Chinese) who came long after the land bridge submerged. These ethnic Chinese sailed down and frequently interacted and even created settlements including CALABARZON region such as Rizal which carried on trade with the Arab traders long before the Spanish conquest. As evidenced by a collection of priceless Chinese artifacts found in the Philippines, dating back right up to the 10th century.
Prehistoric evidence attest to the fact that many datus and rajahs (indigenous rulers) in the Philippines were of mixed Filipino and Chinese ancestry. They formed the group which is to be called Principalia during the Spanish period, and were given privileges by the Spanish colonial authorities.
The arrival of the Spaniards to the Philippines attracted many Chinese male immigrants from China, and maritime trade flourished during the Spanish occupation. The Spanish authorities restricted 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 retail trades or acted as skilled artisans to the Spanish colonial authorities. Many of the Chinese who arrived during the Spanish period were Cantonese, who worked as stevedores and porters, but there were also Fujianese, who entered the retail trades. The Chinese revolted fourteen times, against Spanish abuses, but their revolts were quickly put down by joint forces of the indigenous Filipinos, Mexicans, and the Spaniards. As it were, the Chinese rulers at the time forbade their Chinese subjects from emigrating and made the crime of leaving China punishable by death upon their return. To the Chinese rulers, those who had abandoned their homeland to settle in foreign lands were considered traitors who ceased to be Chinese. In addition, the Spanish authorities decided to segregate the Chinese immigrants into two groups: Parían (unconverted) and Binondo (converted). The massacres and expulsions targeted the unconverted while sparing the converted Chinese. To avoid this grim fate, most Chinese male immigrants converted to Catholicism, 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 and were classified as blanco or white, together with the mixed-race Spanish mestizos and pure-blooded Spanish Filipinos. The Chinese mestizos were largely confined to the Binondo area. However, they eventually spread all over the islands, and became traders, moneylenders and landowners.
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, despite strict American law enforcement. During World War II, the Japanese massacred many unmixed Chinese. Following World War II and the fall of the Chinese mainland to communism, many Chinese migrated from Fujian province in China to the Philippines. This group formed the bulk of the current population of Chinese Filipinos.
Beginning World War II, Chinese Filipino soldiers and guerrillas joined in the fight against the Japanese Imperial Forces during the Japanese Occupation in the Philippines (1941–1945). In 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. The Chinese Filipinos was joined 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 military unit of the Philippine Commonwealth Army and Philippine Constabulary was started the battles between the Filipino Recaptures and Allied Liberators from 1942 to 1945 to fought against the Japanese Imperial forces. Many Chinese-Filipinos was joined the guerrilla movement of the Philippine-Chinese Anti-Japanese guerrilla resistance fighter unit or Wa Chi Movement 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. Over hundreds of thousands of the Chinese Filipino soldiers and guerrillas were attacked by Japanese Imperial Forces during the liberation of the Philippines. 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.
After independence, successive Philippine presidents have had ambivalent attitudes about the Chinese Filipinos. Presidents Ramon Magsaysay and Carlos P. Garcia promoted the Filipino First policies, and put in tough government directives to hinder the ownership of businesses by Chinese Filipinos who were still citizens of the Republic of China. During the Martial Law Period, Chinese language schools were ordered closed or else to limit the time alloted 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' policy 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 mestiza, eventually became president. She encouraged free press and cultural harmony, a process which led to the burgeoning of the Chinese language media. Mild racist riots occurred during 1992 when several Filipinos, led by Armando Ducat, Jr., a businessman, campaigned for 'kicking-out the Chinese-Filipinos instead of the Americans', referring to the formal closure of the American military bases in the Philippines, and during 1998, when a Chinese mestizo, Senator Alfredo Lim, entered the candidacy for president. Also, 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 and lasting to this day. Senior members of the Philippine Military were allegedly involved.
Most of the Chinese Filipinos are descendants of Chinese who migrated three or four generations ago. In the case of most Chinese mestizos, this can be as far back as five, six, or up to eight generations ago. Unlike in Malaysia and Indonesia where intermarriage is uncommon and people can generally be classified ethnically just by physical appearance, the Philippine definition of who is Chinese Filipino and who is Chinese mestizo can be based on one's language usage and cultural values. A full-blooded Chinese who can no longer speak Chinese and no longer practice Chinese culture or beliefs is more often than not identified as a Chinese mestizo. By the same token, a Chinese mestizo who still speaks fluent Chinese and practices Chinese culture might be reintegrated into the Chinese-Filipino culture. As "mestizo" often evokes a person of higher social strata, there is also a tendency to not identify those in the lower class as "mestizo" even if they are in fact of mixed descent.
The Chinese in the Philippines cannot be simplistically classified. But generally, some observers claim they can be classified into three types, based on when their ancestors first arrived. 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 either the Chinese mestizos or have integrated into the indigenous population. The largest group of Chinese Filipinos 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. The "Third Chinese" are 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 therefore are paradoxically misunderstood or feared by the "Second Chinese". Because the "Third Chinese" are recent arrivals from mainland China where Mao's Cultural Revolution suppressed traditional Chinese culture, the "Second Chinese" view them with disdain for their uncouth manners and ignorant ways of traditional Chinese culture which was kept alive by the "Second Chinese" for nearly four generations in the Philippines. On the other hand, the "First Chinese" or Sangley had largely intermarried and assimilated into a Hispanized Catholic 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.
As of the present day, due to the effects of globalization in the Philippines, there has been a marked tendency to acculturate to North American lifestyles, without losing Chinese culture and identity. This is especially true for younger Chinese Filipinos living in wealthy suburbs like Greenhills, San Juan, 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. There is also a renewed tendency and interest to study and practice the use of Chinese language. More and more Chinese mestizos tend also to reintegrate into Chinese societies by attending Chinese schools, learning to speak Chinese and adopting Chinese customs. Although at a slower pace than Thailand, assimilation is gradually taking place in the Philippines but integration without losing Chinese culture is advantageous for the Philippines and for the Chinese Filipino business community.
With the onset of globalization since the 1990s, increasing numbers of well-to-do Chinese Filipino families are acquiring North American passports and sending their children abroad to attend prestigious North America Universities. Many are opting to remain after graduation to start professional careers in North America. Philippine-educated Chinese Filipinos from middle-class families are also migrating en masse to North America and Australasia. Those who have family businesses regularly commute between North America 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. Furthermore, 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. It is unclear how globalization would affect Chinese Filipinos. If they remain in the Philippines, they would become part of the ever expanding Chinese community in the country. Unlike the earlier generations, they would not likely intermarry/assimilate with other indigenous people becasuse of the gender balance and the natural tendency of Chinese Filipinos to preserve and protect their culture, roots and identity etc. If they migrate to North America or Australasia, they would be joining rapidly growing Asian communities in the multicultural cities of San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Vancouver , Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne, etc.
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