Wilson Lee Flores
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Wilson Lee Flores is a multi-awarded writer and journalist and currently president of The Anvil Business Club, a Chinese-Filipino business organization. He is also a real estate entrepreneur.
Wilson Lee Flores was born to a wealthy ethnic Chinese family in the Philippines, but lost his privileged life when his father died before he was seven. He spent his childhood in Tondo, Manila where his late father prominent lumber businessman Lee Tek Hong operated a sawmill before his death. His father had also lost a bitter legal battle for control of various family businesses before his death. His father used to manage the family's various sawmills such as Alaska Lumber Co., Uno Lumber Co., New Uno Lumber Co., General Sawmill, Lee Tay & Lee Chay, Inc. and others.
Wilson Lee Flores' ancestors have a long history of political activism and social idealism which inspire his writings. The family surname Li is pronounced as "Lee" in Mandarin and "Dy" or "Dee" in the Hokkien or south Fujian dialect. His forebears were overseas Chinese who supported Dr. Sun Yat Sen's 1911 revolution against the corrupt Manchu regime of the Ching Dynasty in China. His forebears and kins also actively resisted Japanese military hegemony in Asia during World War II.
His paternal great-great-grandfather Dy Han Kia was the third-generation overseas Chinese of his clan to sojourn from China's Fujian province to then Spanish-ruled Philippines, but it was Dy Han Kia who became a famed lumber merchant with four companies in 19th century Manila and he was a philanthropist.
His grandfather Lee Tay was a prominent sawmill businessman in Manila in the American colonial era with the firm Lee Tay & Lee Chay, which had the old Chinese trade name "Guan Hoc" which meant "wellspring of fortune" and which was the name given by the pioneer Dy Han Kia. In the early 20th century, Lee Tay sent his cousins to manage new affiliate lumber enterprises in San Pablo City of Laguna province, in Cabanatuan City of Nueva Ecija province and in Santa Cruz town of Laguna province.
His grandfather's two activist cousins Dy Hoc Siu and Dy Hoc Khe became martyrs executed by Japanese military invaders to the Philippines during World War II. Dy Hoc Siu was a leader of the committee campaigning for boycott of Japanese trade in the Philippines under the nationwide league oppositing Japanese militarism called "Khong Tiak Hue" or "Resist the Enemy League" led by his cousin lumber tycoon Dee C. Chuan. Dy Hoc Siu was also the sawmill production manager of the grandfather and father of Wilson Lee Flores, and there is now a memorial to him and nine other martyrs built by the Chinese community inside the Manila Chinese Cemetery.
His grandfather's cousin and close friend was the activist tycoon Dee C. Chuan who became the Philippine "Lumber King" of the American era, founder of China Bank in 1920, 9-term president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, president of a nationwide league opposing Japanese militarism, vice-chairman of the Southeast Asian Chinese coalition which supported China's war against Japan which had Singapore's "Rubber King" Tan Kah Kee as chairman. Dee was founder of two biggest Chinese newspapers in the Philippines then named Chinese Commercial News and Fookien Times. Dee C. Chuan once led the Chinese minority in a legal battle (case known as Yu Cong Eng versus Trinidad) opposing a discriminatory Philippine law called the Bookkeping Act, which was won in a 1926 U.S. Supreme Court decision penned by Chief Justice William H. Taft. Taft was also once the first civil governor of America's Philippine colony and also former United States President. Dee C. Chuan once supported Fujian province rebellion against the Kuomintang regime of President Chiang Kai Shek, the ill-fasted rebellion was led by anti-Japanese war hero General Tsai Ting Kai of the 19th Route Army.
A first cousin of Wilson Lee Flores' great-grandfather, lumber tycoon Dy Pac, was also imprisoned by Japanese military invaders for his resistance to their hegemony in Asia during World War II. A younger brother of Flores' great-grandfather, Dee Tian, was also an activist tycoon and Buddhist philanthropist.
Wilson Lee Flores' mother, top educator Mary C. Young Siu-Tin, was once the editors' choice among regional nominations by readers for "Asian of the Century" of Asiaweek magazine as an exemplar of Asia's unheralded heroic Asian women. She had served as outstanding principal and elementary school teacher in numerous schools throughout the Philippines, and also before 1949 in Fujian province, southeastern China. She used to als write poems published in major Chinese newspapers like Manila's Great China Press.
Wilson Lee Flores spent his two years preparatory schooling at Chiang Kai Shek College in Manila, where he won in a watercolor painting competition. After his father's death, he later spent his elementary and high school years at Grace Christian High School, a Chinese Christian school in the suburbs of Quezon City, Metro Manila. While in Grace, Wilson Lee Flores was the Features Editor of the student publication “Grace Journal” and had been a finalist winner at the Metro Manila Secondary Schools Journalism Competition. When he was in fourth year, he won in the school's General Information and Bible contests.
He studied AB Management Economics (where one of his economics professors was future Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) and later shifted to BS Legal Management at the prestigious Ateneo de Manila University, where he became founding president of Celadon, a multi-awarded Filipino-Chinese students' organization and was also managing editor and columnist of the Ateneo's Guidon, the college newspaper.
He also wrote for the Filipino-language student newspaper, Matanglawin, the literary journal Heights, for Icarus newsletter of the Political Society of the Ateneo, was editor of his Spanish language class' newsletter, La Herencia, was among the finalists of the Asiaweek Short Story Competition with his story, The Three Deaths of Madame Hoang, about an ethnic Chinese family in Saigon forced to become refugees. He also studied the Spanish language at Instituto Cervantes. As a college student, his English poems on various themes were published in the "Caracoa" literary journal of the Philippine Literary Arts Council. His Filipino poems were published in "Midweek" magazine and also in the "Matanglawin" college newspaper.
The first articles of Flores outside school newspapers were two political and opinion pieces published by the Catholic Church-owned "Veritas" which came out after the 1983 assassination of former opposition Senator Ninoy Aquino.
Flores had written the weekly "Roots of Philippine Business" columns for the Manila Chronicle while still in college in the mid-1980s, and all of these were translated into the Chinese language and published first by Chinese Commercial News and later by the World News. His political analysis article on the presidency of Corazon C. Aquino at Manila Chronicle was later published in former University of the Philippines President Dr. Jose Abueva's book on this political leader.
He later wrote business features for the Business Star newspaper and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. In the 1990s, he was also Philippine correspondent for the Hong Kong-based Chinese-language Forbes magazine affiliated with the U.S. business magazine.
In 2001, he moved to the Philippine Star in the Business Life section, with his Monday column, Bull Market, Bull Sheet. On Sundays, his Philippine Star column deals with diverse topics from humor, movie reviews, social or political commentaries to interviews.
He is also Philippines correspondent for Yazhou Zhoukan magazine, the Hong Kong-based international Chinese-language newsweekly and affiliated with the Ming Pao newspaper group. He is member of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) and in October 2006 was elected director of the Philippine Chinese Columnists Association (PCCA).
He proposed building a Rizal Monument in honor of the Philippine national hero's ancestral hometown in Jinjiang City, Fujian China. He also made a genealogical research tracing Jose Rizal's ancestors to Fujian, China.
He is also Director of Unyon ng Mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL), he once spearheaded the country’s biggest poetry reading project held in Marikina City Hall. He advocates popularizing reading among the public
On November 10, 2006, he won his record sixth Catholic Mass Media Award (CMMA) at rites presided by President Gloria M. Arroyo and Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, he won "Best Entertainment Column" for his film reviews which have critical socio-political and cultural commentaries. In the year 2005, he won the “Best Opinion Column” category for his essays on social/political issues and the “Best Entertaiment Column” category in the Catholic Mass Media Awards. In the previous years 2003 and 2004, he also won two CMMA awards for “Best Business Column” and one CMMA award for “Best Opinion Column.” While a college student at the Ateneo, he had also won three Palanca literary awards.
Many of his columns advocate sweeping political, social, economic, cultural and moral reforms. In his 2005 CMMA acceptance speech, he said: "I believe the Philippines is not hopeless, but it is our many corrupt politicians in the Philippines who are hopeless!"