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Chinese Filipinos or otherwise referred to as Filipino--Chinese (or in Philippine English: Chinoy; Filipino/Tagalog: Tsinoy [tʃɪnoɪ] / Tsinito (masculine) / Tsinita (feminine) / Pilipinong Tsino [tʃɪno] / Pilipinong Intsik [ʔinˈt͡ʃik]; Philippine Hokkien Chinese: 咱儂 / 咱人 / 菲律賓華僑; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Lán-nâng / Lán-lâng / Nán-nâng / Hui-li̍p-pin Hôa-kiâu; Philippine Spanish: Chinito (masculine) / Chinita (feminine) / Sangley / Mestizo de Sangley; Philippine Mandarin simplified Chinese: 菲律宾华人 / 菲律宾华侨 / 华菲人; traditional Chinese: 菲律賓華人 / 菲律賓華僑 / 華菲人; pinyin: Fēilǜbīn huárén / Fēilǜbīn huáqiáo / Huáfēi rén), are Filipino citizens of Chinese descent, mostly born and raised in the Philippines. Chinese Filipinos are one of the largest overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia.[1] In 2013, there were approximately 1.35 million Filipinos with Chinese ancestry.[2] In addition, Sangleys—Filipinos with at least some Chinese ancestry—comprise a substantial proportion of the Philippine population, although the actual figures are not known.[3][4]

Chinese Filpinos are well represented in all levels of Filipino society.[5] Many Chinese Filipinos also play an important role in the Philippine business sector.[5][6][7][8][9]


The term "Chinese Filipino" or "Filipino Chinese" may or may not be hyphenated.[10][11] The website of the organization Kaisa para sa Kaunlaran (Unity for Progress) omits the hyphen, adding that the former is the adjective where the latter is the noun, depending on whichever perspective logic one understands that identity. The Chicago Manual of Style and the APA, among others, also recommend dropping the hyphen. When used as an adjective as a whole, it may take on a hyphenated form or may remain unchanged.[12][13][14]

There are various universally accepted terms used in the Philippines to refer to Chinese Filipinos:Template:Citation needed

  • Chinese (Filipino/Tagalog: Intsik (Colloquial) / Tsino (Formal) / Tsekwa (Derogatory); Philippine Hokkien simplified Chinese: 咱人; traditional Chinese: 咱儂; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Lán-nâng / Lán-lâng / Nán-nâng, Mandarin simplified Chinese: 华人; traditional Chinese: 華人; pinyin: Huárén)—generalized term referring to any and all Chinese people in or outside the Philippines in general regardless of nationality or place of birth.
  • Chinese Filipino, Filipino Chinese or Philippine Chinese (Philippine English: Chinoy; Filipino/Tagalog: Tsinoy / Tsinito (masculine) / Tsinita (feminine) / Intsik; Philippine Hokkien simplified Chinese: 咱人; traditional Chinese: 咱儂; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Lán-nâng / Lán-lâng / Nán-nâng, Mandarin simplified Chinese: 华菲 / 菲律宾华人 / 菲律宾华侨; traditional Chinese: 華菲 / 菲律賓華人 / 菲律賓華僑; pinyin: Huáfēi / Fēilǜbīn huárén / Fēilǜbīn huáqiáo)—refers to people with some level of Han Chinese ethnicity with Philippine nationality and to people of Han Chinese ethnicity with Chinese nationality (either PRC or ROC) or whichever nationality but were born or mainly raised in the Philippines. This also includes Chinese Filipinos who now live and/or were born overseas, but still have close ties to the community in the Philippines.
    • Hokkienese / Fukienese / Fujianese / Fookienese (Philippine Hokkien simplified Chinese: 福建人 / 闽南人; traditional Chinese: 福建儂 / 閩南儂; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Hok-kiàn-lâng / Bân-lâm-lâng, Mandarin simplified Chinese: 福建人 / 闽南人; traditional Chinese: 福建儂 / 閩南儂; pinyin: Fújiànren / Mǐnnánrén)—terms referring to Chinese Filipinos whose predominant ancestry is from Fujian Province in China, especially the Hokkien-speaking region in Southern Fujian. Chinese Filipinos of this background typically have Philippine Hokkien as a heritage language, though just as any Chinese Filipino may also normally speak Philippine English, Filipino/Tagalog or other Philippine languages (such as Visayan languages) and may also code-switch any and all of these languages, such as Taglish, Bislish, Hokaglish, etc.
    • Cantonese (Philippine Hokkien simplified Chinese: 广东人; traditional Chinese: 廣東儂; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Kńg-tang-lâng, Mandarin simplified Chinese: 广东人; traditional Chinese: 廣東儂; pinyin: Guǎngdōngrén)—terms referring to Chinese Filipinos whose ancestry is from Guangdong Province in China, especially the Taishanese or Cantonese-speaking regions.
  • Chinese mestizo (Philippine Spanish: Mestizo de Sangley / Chinito (masculine) / Chinita (feminine); Filipino/Tagalog: Mestisong Tsino / Tsinito (masculine) / Tsinita (feminine); Philippine Hokkien Chinese: 出世仔 / 出世; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Chhut-sì-á / Chhut-sì, Mandarin simplified Chinese: 华菲混血; traditional Chinese: 華菲混血; pinyin: Huáfēi hùnxiě)—refers to people who are of mixed Han Chinese and indigenous Filipino ancestry, a common and historical phenomenon in the Philippines especially families tracing from the Spanish colonial times. Those with 75% Han Chinese ancestry or more are typically not considered to be characteristically mestizo. Many Chinese mestizos are still Chinese Filipinos, though some with more indigenous Filipino ancestry or family or have just had a very long family history of living and assimilating to life in the Philippines may no longer identify as Chinese Filipino.
  • Mainland Chinese, Mainlander (Filipino/Tagalog: Taga-China / Intsik / Taga-Tsina; Philippine Hokkien simplified Chinese: 大陆仔 / 中国人 / 唐山人; traditional Chinese: 大陸仔 / 中國儂 / 唐山儂; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tāi-dio̍k-á / Tiong-kok-lâng / Tn̂g-soaⁿ-lâng, Mandarin simplified Chinese: 中国人; traditional Chinese: 中國人; pinyin: Zhōngguórén)—refers to any PRC citizens from mainland China (PRC), especially those of Han Chinese ethnicity with Chinese nationality that were raised in China (PRC).
  • Taiwanese (Filipino/Tagalog: Taga-Taiwan / Intsik; Philippine Hokkien simplified Chinese: 台湾人 / 台湾仔; traditional Chinese: 台灣儂 / 臺灣儂 / 台灣仔 / 臺灣仔; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tâi-oân-lâng / Tâi-oân-á, Taiwanese Mandarin simplified Chinese: 台湾人; traditional Chinese: 臺灣人 / 台灣人; Hanyu Pinyin: Táiwānrén; Tongyong Pinyin: Táiwanrén; Wade–Giles: Tʽai2-wan1-jen2; Zhuyin Fuhao: ㄊㄞˊ ㄨㄢ ㄖㄣˊ)—refers to ROC citizens from Taiwan (ROC), especially those of Han Chinese ethnicity with Republic of China (Taiwan) nationality that were raised in Taiwan (ROC).
  • Hongkonger (Filipino/Tagalog: Taga-Hong kong / Intsik; Philippine Hokkien simplified Chinese: 香港仔 / 香港人; traditional Chinese: 香港仔 / 香港儂; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Hiong-káng-á / Hiong-káng-lâng, Mandarin Chinese: 香港人; pinyin: Xiānggǎngrén, Cantonese Chinese: 香港人; Jyutping: Hoeng1 gong2 jan4)—refers to people from Hong Kong, especially those of Han Chinese ethnicity with Hong Kong (SAR) residency or Hong Kong British National (Overseas) status that were born or raised in Hong Kong (SAR) or British Hong Kong.
  • Macanese (Filipino/Tagalog: Taga-Macau / Intsik; Philippine Hokkien simplified Chinese: 澳门人 / 澳门仔; traditional Chinese: 澳門儂 / 澳門仔; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Ò-mn̂g-lâng / Ò-mn̂g-á, Mandarin simplified Chinese: 澳门人; traditional Chinese: 澳門人; pinyin: Àoménrén, Cantonese Chinese: 澳門人; Cantonese Yale: Ou mùhn yàhn)—refers to people from Macau, especially those of Han Chinese ethnicity with Macau permanent residency that were born or raised in Macau (SAR) or Portuguese Macau.
  • Tornatrás or Torna atrás—obsolete term referring to people who are of varying mixtures of Han Chinese, Spanish and indigenous Filipino during the Spanish Colonial Period of the Philippines.
  • Sangley—obsolete term referring to people of unmixed Chinese ancestry, especially fresh first generation Chinese migrants, during the Spanish Colonial Period of the Philippines. The mixed equivalents were likewise the above terms, Mestizo de Sangley and Tornatrás.

Other terms being used with reference to China include:

  • 華人 – Hoâ-jîn or Huárén—a generic term for referring to Chinese people, without implication as to nationality
  • 華僑 – Hoâ-kiâo or Huáqiáo—Overseas Chinese, usually China-born Chinese who have emigrated elsewhere
  • 華裔 – Hoâ-è or Huáyì—People of Chinese ancestry who were born in, residents of and citizens of another country

"Indigenous Filipino" or simply "Filipino", is used in this article to refer to the Austronesian inhabitants prior to the Spanish Conquest of the islands. During the Spanish Colonial Period, the term Indio was used.Template:Citation needed

The Filipino Chinese has always been one of the largest ethnic groups in the country with Chinese immigrants comprising the largest group of immigrant settlers in the Philippines.Template:Citation needed 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 (27% of the population-including Chinese mestizos).Template:Citation needed Today, most Filipino Chinese are locally born.Template:Citation needed The rate of intermarriage between Chinese settlers and indigenous Filipinos is among the highest in Southeast Asia, exceeded only by Thailand.Template:Citation needed However, intermarriages occurred mostly during the Spanish colonial period because Chinese immigrants to the Philippines up to the 19th century were predominantly male.Template:Citation needed It was only in the 20th century that Chinese women and children came in comparable numbers.Template:Citation needed 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 or Chinese mestizos.Template:Citation needed Generally, Chinese mestizos is a term referring to people with one Chinese parent.

By this definition, the ethnically Filipino Chinese comprise 1.8% (1.5 million) of the population.[15] This figure however does not include the Chinese mestizos who since Spanish times have formed a part of the middle class in Philippine societyTemplate:Citation needed nor does it include Chinese immigrants from the People's Republic of China since 1949.


Early interactions

Ethnic Han Chinese sailed around the Philippine Islands from the 9th century onward and frequently interacted with the local Austronesian people.Template:Citation needed Chinese and Austronesian interactions initially commenced as bartering and items.Template:Citation needed This is evidenced by a collection of Chinese artifacts found throughout Philippine waters, dating back to the 10th century.Template:Citation neededSince Song dynasty times in China and precolonial times in the Philippines, evidence of trade contact can already be observed in the Chinese ceramics found in archaeological sites, like in Santa Ana, Manila.[16]

Spanish colonial attitudes (16th century – 1898)


A Chinese mestiza in a photograph by Francisco Van Camp, c. 1875. Template:Citation needed
Sangleys of different social classes in the Spanish era, as depicted in the Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica de las Yslas Filipinas (1734)
Mestizos Sangley y Chino (Sangley Chinese-Filipino Mestizos), c. 1841 Tipos del País Watercolor by Justiniano Asuncion

When the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, there was already a significant population of migrants from China all of whom were male due to the relationship between the barangays (city-states) of the island of Luzon and the Ming dynasty.Template:Citation needed

The first encounter of the Spanish authorities with China immigrants was not entirely pleasant – several Chinese pirates under the leadership of Limahong, who proceeded to besiege the newly established Spanish capital in Manila in 1574.Template:Citation needed He tried to capture the city of Manila in vain and was subsequently beaten by the combined Spanish and native forces under the leadership of Juan de Salcedo in 1575. Almost simultaneously, the Chinese imperial admiral Homolcong arrived in Manila where he was well received. On his departure he took with him two priests, who became the first Catholic missionaries to China from the Philippines. This visit was followed by the arrival of Chinese ships in Manila in May 1603 bearing Chinese officials with the official seal of the Ming Empire. This led to suspicion on the part of the Spaniards that the Chinese had sent a fleet to try to conquer the nearly defenseless islands. However, seeing the city as strongly defended as ever, the Chinese made no hostile moves.Template:Citation needed They returned to China without showing any particular motive for the journey and without either side mentioning the apparent motive.Template:Citation needed Fortifications of Manila were started, with a Chinese settler in Manila named Engcang, who offered his services to the governor.Template:Citation needed He was refused and a plan to massacre the Spaniards quickly spread among the Chinese inhabitants of Manila. The revolt was quickly crushed by the Spaniards, ending in a large-scale massacre of the non-Catholic Sangley in Manila. Throughout the Spanish Colonial Period, the China citizens who were mostly of mixed Arab, Iranian and Tanka trader descent called Sangley outnumbered the Spanish colonizers by ten to one due to extensive intermarriage with the native Filipinos, and at least on two occasions tried to seize power, but their revolts were quickly put down by joint forces composed of indigenous Filipinos, Japanese and Spanish.[17]Template:Rp

Following the mostly unpleasant initial interaction with the Spaniards, most of the mixed raced Arab and Iranian Sangley in Manila and in the rest of the Philippines started to focus on retail trade and service industry in order to avoid massacres and forced deportations to China. The Spanish authorities started restricting 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 small businesses or acted as skilled artisans to the Spanish colonial authorities. Most of the Chinese who arrived during the early Spanish period were Cantonese from "Canton, Nyngo, Chincheo, and Macau", who worked as stevedores and porters, as well as those skilled in the mechanical arts. From the mid-19th century, the Hokkienese migrants from Fujian would surpass and vastly outnumber the Cantonese migrants.Template:Citation needed

The Spanish authorities differentiated the Chinese immigrants into two groups: Parían (unconverted) and Binondo (converted).Template:Citation needed Many immigrants converted to Catholicism and due to the lack of Chinese women, 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.Template:Citation needed The Chinese population originally occupied the Binondo area although eventually they spread all over the islands, and became traders, moneylenders and landowners.[18]

French Illustration of a Chinese mestizo couple c.1846 by Jean Mallat de Bassilan

Chinese mestizos as Filipinos

During the Philippine Revolution of 1898, Mestizos de Sangley (Chinese mestizos) would eventually refer to themselves as Filipino,Template:Citation needed which during that time referred to Spaniards born in the Philippines. The Chinese mestizos would later fan the flames of the Philippine Revolution.Template:Citation needed Many leaders of the Philippine Revolution themselves have substantial Chinese ancestry. These include Emilio Aguinaldo, Andrés Bonifacio, Marcelo del Pilar, Antonio Luna, José Rizal and Manuel Tinio.[19]

Chinese mestizos in the Visayas

Sometime in the year 1750, an adventurous young man named Wo Sing Lok, also known as “Sin Lok” arrived in Manila, Philippines. The 12-year-old traveler came from Amoy, the old name for Xiamen, an island known in ancient times as “Gateway to China”—near the mouth of Jiulong “Nine Dragon” River in the southern part of Fujian Province.

Earlier in Manila, immigrants from China were herded to stay in the Chinese trading center called "Parian". After the Sangley Revolt of 1603, this was destroyed and burned by the Spanish authorities. Three decades later, Chinese traders built a new and bigger Parian near Intramuros.

For fear of a Chinese uprising similar to that in Manila, the Spanish authorities implementing the royal decree of Gov. Gen. Juan de Vargas dated July 17, 1679, rounded up the Chinese in Iloilo and hamletted them in the parian (now Avanceña Street). It compelled all local unmarried Chinese to live in the Parian and all married Chinese to stay in Binondo. Similar Chinese enclaves or "Parian" were later established in Camarines Sur, Cebu and Iloilo.[20]

Sin Lok together with the progenitors of the Lacson, Sayson, Ditching, Layson, Ganzon, Sanson and other families who fled Southern China during the reign of the despotic Qing dynasty (1644–1912) in the 18th century and arrived in Maynilad; finally, decided to sail farther south and landed at the port of Batiano river to settle permanently in “Parian” near La Villa Rica de Arevalo in Iloilo.[21][22]

Binondo Church, the main church of the district of Binondo

American Colonial Era (1898–1946)

During the American colonial period, the Chinese Exclusion Act in the United States was also put into effect in the Philippines[23] Nevertheless, the Chinese were able to settle in the Philippines with the help of other Chinese Filipinos, despite strict American law enforcement, usually through "adopting" relatives from Mainland or by assuming entirely new identities with new names.

Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila (1949)

The privileged position of the Chinese as middlemen of the economy under Spanish colonial rule[24] quickly fell, as the Americans favored the principalía (educated elite) formed by Chinese mestizos and Spanish mestizos. As American rule in the Philippines started, events in Mainland China starting from the Taiping Rebellion, Chinese Civil War and Boxer Rebellion led to the fall of the Qing Dynasty, which led thousands of Chinese from Fujian Province in China to migrate en masse to the Philippines to avoid poverty, worsening famine and political persecution. This group eventually formed the bulk of the current population of unmixed Chinese Filipinos.[19]

Arm-tag of the Wha-Chi Battalion or Squadron 48

Formation of the Filipino Chinese identity (1946–1975)

Beginning in World War II, Chinese soldiers and guerrillas joined in the fight against the Japanese Imperial Forces during the Japanese Occupation in the Philippines (1941–1945).Template:Citation needed On 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.Template:Citation needed Chinese Filipinos were integrated in the U.S. Armed Forces of the First & Second Filipino Infantry Regiments of the United States Army.Template:Citation needed After the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942, when Chinese Filipinos was joined the soldiers is a military unit of the Philippine Commonwealth Army under the U.S. military command is a ground arm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was started the battles between the Japanese Counter-Insurgencies and Allied Liberators from 1942 to 1945 to fought against the Japanese Imperial forces. Some Chinese-Filipinos joined the soldiers were integrated of the 11th, 14th, 15th, 66th & 121st Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Armed Forces in the PhilippinesTemplate:Citation needed – Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL) under the military unit of the Philippine Commonwealth Army started the Liberation in Northern Luzon and aided the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Abra, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya and attacking Imperial Japanese forces. Many Chinese-Filipinos joined the guerrilla movement of the Philippine-Chinese Anti-Japanese guerrilla resistance fighter unit or Wa Chi Movement,Template:Citation needed the Ampaw Unit under by Colonel Chua Sy Tiao Template:Citation needed and the Chinese-Filipino 48th Squadron since 1942 to 1946 to attacking Japanese forces.Template:Citation needed Thousands of Chinese Filipino soldiers and guerrillas died of heroism in the Philippines from 1941 to 1945 during World War II.Template:Citation needed 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.Template:Citation needed The new-found unity between the ethnic Chinese migrants and the indigenous Filipinos against a common enemy – the Japanese, served as a catalyst in the formation of a Chinese Filipino identity who started to regard the Philippines as their one of their homes.[25]

Chinese as aliens under the Marcos Regime (1975–1986)

Under the Administration of Ferdinand Marcos, Chinese Filipino who have citizenship referred only to those who arrived in the country before World War II, called "lao cao". Those who arrived after the war were later called the "jiu qiao". They were residents who came from China via Hong Kong in the 1950s to 1980s.[26]

Chinese schools in the Philippines, which were governed by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China (Taiwan), were transferred under the jurisdiction of the Philippine government's Department of Education. Virtually all Chinese schools were ordered closed or else to limit the time allotted 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.Template:Citation needed Marcos' policies eventually led to the formal assimilation of the Chinese Filipinos into mainstream Filipino society,[27] the majority were granted citizenship, under the administration of Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos.[28]

Following the February 1986 People Power Revolution (EDSA 1), the Chinese Filipinos quickly gained national spotlight as Cory Aquino, a Kapampangan Chinese Filipino mestiza of Chinese ancestry from the influential Cojuanco family took up the Presidency.[29]

Return of "Democracy" (1986–2000)

Corazon Aquino, of Kapampangan main ancestry, is the third Philippine president to have partial Chinese ancestry.Template:Citation needed

Despite getting better protections, crimes against Chinese Filipinos were still present, the same way as crimes against other ethnic groups in the Philippines, as the country was still battling the lingering economic effects of the more than 2-decade Marcos Regime.Template:Citation needed[30][31] All these led to the formation of the first Chinese Filipino organization, Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (Unity for Progress) by Teresita Ang-See[n 1] which called for mutual understanding between the ethnic Chinese and the native Filipinos. Aquino encouraged free press and cultural harmony, a process which led to the burgeoning of the Chinese-language media[32] During this time, the third wave of Chinese migrants came. They are known as the "xin qiao", tourists or temporary visitors with fake papers, fake permanent residencies or fake Philippine passports that started coming starting the 1990s during the administration of Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada.[33]

21st century (2001–present)

More Chinese-Filipinos were given citizenship during the 21st century. Chinese influence in the country increased during the pro-Chinese presidency of Gloria Arroyo.[34] Businesses by the Filipino Chinese improved under Benigno Aquino's presidency, while mainland Chinese migration into the Philippines decreased due to Aquino's pro-Filipino and US approach in handling disputes with communist China.[35] "Xin qiao" Chinese migration from mainland China into the Philippines intensified from 2016 up to the present,[36] due to controversial pro-Chinese policies by the Rodrigo Duterte presidency, prioritizing Chinese POGO businesses.[37]

The Filipino-Chinese community have expressed concern over the ongoing disputes between China and the Philippines, which majority preferring peaceful approaches to the dispute to safeguard their own private businesses.[38][39]


File:Chinese Filipino Ethnicity.jpg
Ethnicity of Chinese Filipinos, including Chinese mestizos

Virtually most all Chinese Filipinos in the Philippines belong to either Hokkien or Cantonese-speaking groups of the Han Chinese ethnicity. Many Chinese Filipinos are either third, fourth or second generation or in general natural-born Philippine citizens who can still look back to their Chinese roots and have Chinese relatives both in China as well as in other Southeast Asian or Australasian or North American countries.

Hokkien (Fujianese/Hokkienese/Fukienese/Fookienese) people

Chinese Filipinos who have roots as Hokkien people (福建人/閩南人) predominantly have ancestors who came from Southern Fujian and usually speak or at least have Philippine Hokkien as heritage language. They form the bulk of Chinese settlers in the Philippines during or after the Spanish Colonial Period, and settled or spread primarily from Metro Manila and key cities in Luzon such as Angeles, Baguio, Dagupan, Ilagan, Laoag, Lucena, Tarlac and Vigan, as well as in major Visayan and Mindanao cities such as Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, Dumaguete, General Santos, Iligan, Metro Iloilo, Ormoc, Tacloban, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga.

Hokkien peoples, also known in Template:Lang-en or in Philippine Hokkien Template:Zh or in Mandarin Template:Zh, form 98.7% of all unmixed ethnic Chinese in the Philippines. Of the Hokkien peoples, about 75% are from Quanzhou Prefecture (especially around Jinjiang City), 23% are from Zhangzhou Prefecture and 2% are from Xiamen City.[40] Hokkien peoples started migrating to the Philippines in large numbers either earlier or from around the early 1800s and continue to the present, eventually outnumbering the Cantonese who had always formed the majority Chinese group in the country centuries before.

According to a study of around 30,000 gravestones in the Manila Chinese Cemetery which writes the birthplace or family ancestral origins of those buried there, 66.46% were from Jinjiang City (Quanzhou), 17.63% from Nan'an, Fujian (Quanzhou), 8.12% from Xiamen in general, 2.96% from Hui'an County (Quanzhou), 1.55% from Longxi County (now part of Longhai City, Zhangzhou), 1.24% from Enming (Siming District, Xiamen), 1.17% from Quanzhou in general, 1.12% from Tong'an District (Xiamen), 0.85% from Shishi City (Quanzhou), 0.58% from Yongchun County (Quanzhou) and 0.54% from Anxi County (Quanzhou).[41]

The Hokkien-descended Chinese Filipinos currently dominate the light industry and heavy industry, as well as the entrepreneurial and real estate sectors of the Philippine economy. Many younger Hokkien-descended Chinese Filipinos are also entering the fields of banking, computer science, engineering, finance and medicine.

To date, most emigrants and permanent residents from Mainland China, as well as the vast majority of Taiwanese people in the Philippines are also of Hokkien background.


Linguistically related to the Hokkien people are the Teochew (Philippine Hokkien Template:Zh or in Mandarin Template:Zh).

They migrated in large numbers to the Philippines during the Spanish Period by the thousands to the main Luzon island of Philippines,[42] but later on were eventually absorbed by intermarriage into the mainstream Hokkien.

The Teochews are often mistaken for being Hokkien.

Cantonese people

Chinese Filipinos who have roots as Cantonese people (廣府人, Yale Gwóngfúyàhn) have ancestors who came from Guangdong Province and speak or at least have Cantonese or Taishanese as heritage language. They settled down in Metro Manila, as well as in major cities of Luzon such as Angeles, Naga and Olongapo. Many also settled in the provinces of Northern Luzon (e.g., Benguet, Cagayan, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte).

The Cantonese people (Philippine Hokkien Template:Zh, Mandarin Template:Zh) form roughly 1.2% of the unmixed ethnic Chinese population of the Philippines, with large numbers of descendants originally from the peasant villages of Taishan, Macau and nearby areas transiting from Guangzhou (Canton). Many are not as economically prosperous as the Hokkien Chinese Filipinos. Barred from owning land during the Spanish Colonial Period, most Cantonese were into the service industry, working as artisans, barbers, herbal physicians, porters (cargadores / coulis), soap makers and tailors. They also had no qualms in intermarrying with other local Filipinos and most of their descendants are now assimilated as Chinese mestizos, rather than identifying as Chinese Filipino. During the early 1800s, Chinese migration from Cantonese-speaking areas in China to the Philippines trickled to almost zero, as migrants from Hokkien-speaking areas gradually increased, explaining the gradual decrease of the Cantonese demographic. Presently, they are into small-scale entrepreneurship and in education.


There are also some ethnic Chinese from neighboring Asian countries and territories, most notably from Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong who are naturalized Philippine citizens and have since formed part of the Chinese Filipino community. Many of them are also Hokkien speakers, with a sizeable number of Cantonese and Teochew speakers.

Temporary resident Chinese businessmen and envoys include people from Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities and provinces throughout China.


Dialect PopulationTemplate:Citation needed[43][44]
Hokkienese 1,044,000
Cantonese 13,000
Mandarin 550
Chinese mestizo* 486,000
  • The figure above denotes first-generation Chinese mestizos – namely, those with one Chinese and one Filipino parent. This figure does not include those who have less than 50% Chinese ancestry, who are mostly classified as "Filipino".

The exact number of all Filipinos with some Chinese ancestry is unknown. Various estimates have been given from the start of the Spanish Colonial Period up to the present ranging from as low as 1% to as large as 18–27%. The National Statistics Office does not conduct surveys of ethnicity.[45]

According to a research report by historian Austin Craig who was commissioned by the United States in 1915 to ascertain the total number of the various races of the Philippines, the pure Chinese, referred to as Sangley, number around 20,000 (as of 1918), and that around one-third of the population of Luzon have partial Chinese ancestry. This comes with a footnote about the widespread concealing and de-emphasising of the exact number of Chinese in the Philippines.[46]

Another source dating from the Spanish Colonial Period shows the growth of the Chinese and the Chinese mestizo population to nearly 10% of the Philippine population by 1894.

Race Population (1810) Population (1850) Population (1894)
Malay (i.e., indigenous Filipino) 2,395,677 4,725,000 6,768,000
mestizo de sangley (i.e., Chinese mestizo) 120,621 240,000 500,000
sangley (i.e., Unmixed Chinese) 7,000 25,000 100,000
Peninsular (i.e., Spaniard) 4,000 10,000 35,000
Total 2,527,298 5,000,000 7,403,000

Template:Citation needed


File:Chinese Filipino Language.jpg
Languages spoken by Chinese Filipinos at home

The vast majority (74.5%) of Filipino Chinese speak Filipino as their native language. The majority of Filipino Chinese (77%) still retain the ability to understand and speak Hokkien as a second or third language.[47]

The use of Hokkien as first language is seemingly confined to the older generation, as well as in Chinese Filipino families living in traditional Chinese Filipino centers, such as Binondo chinatown in Manila and Caloocan. In part due to the increasing adoption of Philippine nationality during the Marcos era, most Chinese Filipinos born from the 1970s up to the mid-1990s tend to use English and Filipino(Tagalog) or other Philippine regional languages, which they also frequently code-switch together as Taglish or even together with Hokkien as Hokaglish. Among the younger generation (born mid-1990s onward), the preferred language is often English besides also, of course, knowing Filipino (Tagalog) or other Philippine regional languages. Recent arrivals from Mainland China or Taiwan, despite coming from traditionally Hokkien-speaking areas, typically now use Mandarin among themselves.

Unlike other Overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia which featured a multiplicity of dialect groups, Filipino Chinese descend overwhelmingly from Hokkien-speaking regions in Southern Fujian. Hence, Hokkien remains the main heritage language among Chinese Filipinos. Mandarin, however, is perceived as the prestigious Chinese language, which is taught in Chinese Filipino schools and used in all official and formal functions within the Chinese Filipino community, despite the fact that very few Chinese Filipinos are conversant in Mandarin or have it as heritage language.[47]

For the Chinese mestizos, Spanish used to be the important prestige language and the preferred first language at the turn of the century especially during the Spanish colonial era. Starting from the American period, the use of Spanish gradually decreased and is now completely replaced by either English or Filipino.[48]

Hokkien / Fukien / Fookien (Philippine Hokkien)


Since most Chinese Filipinos in the Philippines trace their ancestry to Southern Fujian in Fujian Province of Mainland China, the Hokkien Chinese language, specifically the Philippine Hokkien dialect, is the heritage language of most Chinese Filipinos. Currently, it is typically the elderlies and older generations such as those of the Silent generation, Baby boomer generation and some from Generation X who typically speak Philippine Hokkien as their first or second or third language, especially as first or second generation Chinese Filipinos, whereas the younger generations such as some from Generation X and most Millennials and Generation Z youth sparsely use it as either a third or second or rarely first language, due to it only being used or heard within family households and never being taught at schools anymore. As a result, most of the youth can only understand by ear or do not know it at all anymore and instead mostly uses both English and Filipino (Tagalog) or other Philippine languages.

The variant of Hokkien spoken in the Philippines, Philippine Hokkien, is locally called as Lannang-ue (Philippine Hokkien Template:Zh). Philippine Hokkien is mutually intelligible to a certain degree with other Hokkien variants in mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, etc and is particularly close to the variant spoken in Quanzhou, especially around Jinjiang. Its unique features include its conservative nature that preserve old vocabulary and pronunciations, the presence of a few loanwords from Philippine Spanish or Filipino and frequent code-switching with Philippine English, Filipino/Tagalog and other Philippine languages (such as Visayan languages), excessive use of shortenings and colloquial words (e.g., "pīⁿ-chhù" [病厝]: literally, "sick-house", instead of the Taiwanese Hokkien term "pīⁿ-īⁿ" [病院] to refer to "hospital" or "chhia-thâu" [車頭]: literally, "car-head", instead of the Taiwanese Hokkien term "su-ki" [司機] to refer to a "driver") and use of vocabulary terms from various variants of Hokkien, such as from the Quanzhou, Amoy(Xiamen) and Zhangzhou dialects of the Hokkien language.



Mandarin is the medium of instruction of Chinese (Mandarin) subjects in Chinese Filipino schools in the Philippines. However, since the language is rarely used outside of the classroom, most Chinese Filipinos would be hard-pressed to converse in Mandarin, much less read books with Chinese characters.

As a result of longstanding influence from the ROC Ministry of Education of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Council of the Republic of China (Taiwan) since the early 1900s up to 2000, the Mandarin variant (known in many schools in Hokkien as "kok-gí" [國音]) taught and spoken in many older Chinese Filipino schools in the Philippines closely mirrors that of Taiwanese Mandarin, with Traditional Chinese characters and the Zhuyin (known in many schools in Hokkien as "kok-im" [國音]) phonetic system being taught, though in recent decades Simplified Chinese characters and Pinyin phonetic system was also introduced from China and Singapore. Some Chinese Filipino schools now also teach Mandarin in Simplified characters with the Pinyin system, modeled after those in China and Singapore. Some schools teach both or either of the systems.


Template:Main ArticleDue to the relatively small population of Chinese Filipinos who are of Cantonese ancestry, most of them, especially the younger generations, never learned Cantonese or Taishanese and largely also just use English and Filipino (Tagalog) or other Philippine languages.


Template:Main Article Just as many Filipinos, the vast majority of Chinese Filipinos who grew up in the Philippines are fluent in English, especially that of Philippine English (which descends from American English) and are usually natively bilingual or even multilingual as taught in schools in the Philippines since both English and Filipino are required subjects in all levels of all schools in the Philippines as English serves as an important formal prestige language in Philippine society. Due to this, around 30% of all Chinese Filipinos, mostly those belonging to the younger generations, use English as their preferred first language. Others have it as their second language or third language or natively together with Filipino or other Philippine languages.

Filipino and other Philippine languages

Template:Main Article Naturally as part of life in the Philippines, the majority of Chinese Filipinos born and/or raised or have lived long enough in the Philippines are usually at least natively bilingual or multilingual. Together with English above, Chinese Filipinos normally speak Filipino (Tagalog) and/or the Philippine language of the region they live in, such as Visayan languages (i.e. Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, etc.) in the Visayas and Mindanao. Many Chinese Filipinos, especially those living in the provinces, speak the regional language of their province as their first language, if not English or Filipino. Just as many Filipinos, Chinese Filipinos also frequently code-switch either with both Filipino/Tagalog and English, known as Taglish or with other regional provincial languages, such as Cebuano Bisaya and English, known as Bislish. This frequent code-switching has also produced another trilingual mix with the above Philippine Hokkien, known as Hokaglish which mixes Hokkien, Tagalog and English, though in other provinces, their equivalent dominant regional language is mixed instead of Tagalog or also along with Tagalog in a quadrilingual mix, due to the normalcy of code-switching and multilingualism as part of Philippine society.


Template:Main Article During the Spanish colonial period and subsequent few decades before its replacement by English, Spanish used to be the formal prestige language of Philippine society and hence, Sangley Chinese (Spanish-era unmixed Chinese), Chinese mestizos (Spanish-era mixed Chinese Filipinos) and Tornatras (Spanish-era mixed Chinese-Spanish or Chinese-Spanish-Native) mestizos also learned to speak Spanish throughout the Spanish colonial period to the early to mid 20th century when its role was eventually eclipsed by English and later largely dissipated from mainstream Philippine society. Most of the elites of Philippine society during the Spanish colonial era and American colonial era was made up of both Spanish mestizos and Chinese mestizos, which later intermixed together to an unknown degree and now frequently treated as one group known as Filipino mestizos. Due to this history in the Philippines, many of the older generation Chinese Filipinos (mainly those born before WWII), whether pure or mixed, can also understand some Spanish, due to its importance in commerce and industry.


File:Chinese Filipino Religious Persuasion.jpg
Religions of Chinese Filipinos

Chinese Filipinos are unique in Southeast Asia in being overwhelmingly Christian (83%).[47] but many families, especially Chinese Filipinos in the older generations still practice traditional Chinese religions. Almost all Chinese Filipinos, including the Chinese mestizos but excluding recent migrants from either Mainland China or Taiwan, had or will have their marriages in a Christian church.[47]

Sto. Cristo de Longos, by Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila

Roman Catholicism

Template:See also Majority (70%) of Christian Filipino Chinese are Roman Catholics.[47] Many Catholic Filipino Chinese still tend to practice the traditional Chinese religions side by side with Catholicism, due to the recent openness of the Church in accommodating Chinese beliefs such as ancestor veneration.

Unique to the Catholicism of Filipino Chinese is the religious syncretism that is found in Filipino Chinese homes. Many have altars bearing Catholic images such as the Santo Niño (Child Jesus) as well as statues of the Buddha and Taoist gods. It is not unheard of to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary using joss sticks and otherwise traditional offerings, much as one would have done for Guan Yin or Mazu.[49]


St. Stephen's Church in Manila in 1923, an Anglican church and school for Filipino Chinese

Approximately 13% of all Christian Filipino Chinese are Protestants.[50]

Many Filipino Chinese schools are founded by Protestant missionaries and churches.

Filipino Chinese comprise a large percentage of membership in some of the largest evangelical churches in the Philippines, many of which are also founded by Filipino Chinese, such as the Christian Gospel Center, Christ's Commission Fellowship, United Evangelical Church of the Philippines and the Youth Gospel Center.[51]

In contrast to Roman Catholicism, Protestantism forbids traditional Chinese practices such as ancestor veneration, but allows the use of meaning or context substitution for some practices that are not directly contradicted in the Bible (e.g., celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with moon cakes denoting the moon as God's creation and the unity of families, rather than the traditional Chinese belief in Chang'e). Many also had ancestors already practicing Protestantism while still in China.

Unlike ethnic Filipino-dominated Protestant churches in the Philippines which have very close ties with North American organizations, most Protestant Filipino Chinese churches instead sought alliance and membership with the Chinese Congress on World Evangelization, an organization of Overseas Chinese Christian churches throughout Asia.[52]

Chinese traditional religions and practices

A small number of Filipino Chinese (2%) continue to practise traditional Chinese religions solely.[53] Mahayana Buddhism, specifically, Chinese Pure Land Buddhism,[54] Taoism[55] and ancestral worship (including Confucianism)[56] are the traditional Chinese beliefs that continue to have adherents among the Filipino Chinese.

Buddhist and Taoist temples can be found where the Chinese live, especially in urban areas like Manila.[n 2] Veneration of the Guanyin (觀音), known locally as Kuan-im either in its pure form or seen a representation of the Virgin Mary is practised by many Filipino Chinese. Filipino Chinese community also established indigenous religious denominations like Bell Church (钟教), which is a syncretic religion with ecumenical and interfaith in orientation.[57] There are several prominent Chinese temples like Seng Guan Temple (Buddhist) in Manila, Cebu Taoist Temple in Cebu City and Lon Wa Buddhist Temple in Davao City.

Around half (40%) of all Filipino Chinese regardless of religion still claim to practise ancestral worship.[47] The Chinese, especially the older generations, 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.


There are very few Filipino Muslim Chinese, most of whom live in either Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago and have intermarried or assimilated with their Moro neighbors. Many of them have attained prominent positions as political leaders. They include Datu Piang, Abdusakur Tan and Michael Mastura, among such others.

Others are also members of the Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah's Witnesses or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some younger generations of Filipino Chinese also profess to be atheists.Template:Citation needed


There are 150 Chinese schools that exist throughout the Philippines, slightly more than half of which operate in Metro Manila.[58] Filipino Chinese schools have an international reputation for producing award-winning students in the fields of science and mathematics, most of whom reap international awards in mathematics, computer programming, and robotics olympiads.[59]


The first school founded specifically for Chinese in the Philippines, the Anglo-Chinese school (now known as Tiong Se Academy) was opened in 1899 inside the Chinese Embassy grounds. The first curriculum called for rote memorization of the four major Confucian texts Four Books and Five Classics, as well as Western science and technology. This was followed suit by the establishment of other Chinese schools, such as Hua Siong College of Iloilo established in Iloilo in 1912, the Chinese Patriotic School established in Manila in 1912 and also the first school for Cantonese Chinese, Saint Stephen's High School established in Manila in 1915 and was the first sectarian school for the Chinese and Chinese National School in Cebu in 1915.[58]

Burgeoning of Chinese schools throughout the Philippines as well as in Manila occurred from the 1920s until the 1970s, with a brief interlude during World War II, when all Chinese schools were ordered closed by the Japanese, and their students were forcibly integrated with Japanese-sponsored Philippine public education. After World War II, the Philippines and the Republic of China signed the Sino-Philippine Treaty of Amity, which provided for the direct control of the Republic of China (Taiwan)'s Ministry of Education over Chinese schools throughout the archipelago.

Such situation continued until 1973, when amendments made to the Philippine Constitution effectively transferred all Chinese schools to the authority of the Republic of the Philippines' Department of Education.[58] With this, the medium of instruction was shifted from Mandarin Chinese to English. Teaching hours relegated to Chinese language and arts, which featured prominently in the pre-1973 Chinese schools, were reduced. Lessons in Chinese geography and history, which were previously subjects in their own right, were integrated with the Chinese language subjects, whereas, the teaching of Filipino and Philippine history, civics and culture became new required subjects.

The changes in Chinese education initiated with the 1973 Philippine Constitution led to the large shifting of mother tongues and assimilation of the Chinese Filipinos to general Philippine society. The older generation Filipino Chinese who were educated in the old curriculum typically used Chinese (e.g., Hokkien and Cantonese) at home, while most younger generation Filipino Chinese are more comfortable conversing in either English or Filipino admixed with Chinese.


Filipino Chinese schools typically feature curriculum prescribed by the Philippine Department of Education. The limited time spent in Chinese instruction consists largely of language arts.

The three core Chinese subjects are 華語 (Mandarin: Huáyŭ, Hokkien: Hoâ-gí; English: Chinese Grammar), 綜合 (Mandarin: Zōnghé, Hokkien: Chong-ha'p; English: Chinese Composition) and 數學 (Mandarin: Shùxué, Hokkien: Sòha'k; English: Chinese Mathematics). Other schools may add other subjects such as 毛筆 (Mandarin: Máobĭ, Hokkien: Mô-pit; English: Chinese calligraphy). Chinese history, geography and culture are integrated in all the three core Chinese subjects – they stood as independent subjects of their own before 1973. All Chinese subjects are taught in Mandarin Chinese and in some schools, students are prohibited from speaking English, Filipino or even Hokkien during Chinese classes.

Schools and Universities

Many Chinese Filipino schools are sectarian, being founded by either Roman Catholic or Protestant Chinese missions. These include Grace Christian College (Protestant-Baptist), Hope Christian High School (Protestant-Evangelical), Immaculate Conception Academy (Roman Catholic-Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception), Jubilee Christian Academy (Protestant-Evangelical), LIGHT Christian Academy (Protestant-Evangelical), Makati Hope Academy (Protestant-Evangelical), MGC-New Life Christian Academy (Protestant-Evangelical), Saint Peter the Apostle School (Roman Catholic-Archdiocese of Manila), Saint Jude Catholic School (Roman Catholic-Society of Divine Word), Saint Stephen's High School (Protestant-Episcopalian), Ateneo de Iloilo, Ateneo de Cebu and Xavier School (Roman Catholic-Society of Jesus).

Major non-sectarian schools include Chiang Kai Shek College, Manila Patriotic School, Philippine Chen Kuang High School, Philippine Chung Hua School, Philippine Cultural College – the oldest Filipino Chinese secondary school in the Philippines, and Tiong Se Academy – the oldest Filipino Chinese school in the Philippines.

Chiang Kai Shek College is the only college in the Philippines accredited by both the Philippine Department of Education and the Republic of China (Taiwan) Ministry of Education.

Most Filipino Chinese attend Filipino Chinese schools until Secondary level and then transfer to non-Chinese colleges and universities to complete their tertiary degree, due to the dearth of Chinese language tertiary institutions.

Name format

Template:Main Many Chinese who lived during the Spanish naming edict of 1849 eventually adopted Spanish name formats, along with a Spanish given name (e.g., Florentino Cu y Chua).Template:Citation needed Some adopted their entire Chinese name as a surname for the entire clan (e.g., Jose Antonio Chuidian from Shiu Tien or Chuy Dian; Alberto Cojuangco from 許寰哥, Khó-hoân-ko). Chinese mestizos, as well as some Chinese who chose to completely assimilate into the Filipino or Spanish culture, adopted Spanish surnames.Template:Citation needed

Newer Chinese migrants who came during the American Colonial Period use a combination of an adopted Spanish (or rarely, English) name together with their Chinese name (e.g., Carlos Palanca Tan Quin Lay or Vicente Go Tam Co).Template:Citation needed This trend was to continue up to the late 1970s.

As both exposure to North American media as well as the number of Chinese Filipino educated in English increased, the use of English names among Chinese Filipino, both common and unusual, started to increase as well. Popular names among the second generation Chinese community included English names ending in "-son" or other Chinese-sounding suffixes, such as Anderson, Emerson, Patrickson, Washington, among such others. For parents who are already third and fourth generation Chinese Filipino, English names reflecting American popular trends are given, such as Ethan, Austin and Aidan.

It is thus not unusual to find a young Chinese Filipino named Chase Tan whose father's name is Emerson Tan and whose grandfather's name was Elpidio Tan Keng Kui, reflecting the depth of immersion into the English language as well as into the Philippine society as a whole.Template:Citation needed


Chinese Filipinos whose ancestors came to the Philippines from 1898 onward usually have single syllable Chinese surnames. On the other hand, most Chinese ancestors came to the Philippines prior to 1898 usually have multiple syllable Chinese surnames such as Gokongwei, Ongpin, Pempengco, Yuchengco, Teehankee and Yaptinchay among such others. These were originally full Chinese names which were transliterated in Spanish orthography and adopted as surnames.

Common Chinese Filipino surnames are: Ong/Wong (Wang, 王), Lee/Dy/Sy (Li, 李), Chan/Tan (Chen, 陈), Lao/Lew (Liu, 刘), Tiong/Chong (Zhang, 张), Yung/Yana/Auyong/Awyoung (Yang, 杨), Ng/Uy/Wee (Huang, 黄), Tiu/Chiu/Chio/Chu (Zhao, 赵).

There are also multiple syllable Chinese surnames that are Spanish transliterations of Hokkien words. Surnames like Tuazon (Eldest Grandson, 大孫), Dizon (Second Grandson, 二孫), Samson/Sanson (Third Grandson, 三孫), Sison (Fourth Grandson, 四孫), Gozon/Goson/Gozum (Fifth Grandson, 五孫), Lacson (Sixth Grandson, 六孫) are examples of transliterations of designations that use the Hokkien suffix -son (孫) used as surnames for some Chinese Filipinos who trace their ancestry from Chinese immigrants to the Philippines during the Spanish Colonial Period. The surname "Son/Sun" (孫) is listed in the classic Chinese text Hundred Family Surnames, perhaps shedding light on the Hokkien suffix -son used here as a surname alongside some sort of accompanying enumeration scheme.

Many also took on Spanish or Filipino surnames (e.g. Bautista, De la Cruz, De la Rosa, De los Santos, Garcia, Gatchalian, Mercado, Palanca, Robredo, Sanchez, Tagle, Torres, etc.) upon naturalization. Today, it can be difficult to identify who are Filipino Chinese based on surnames alone.

A phenomenon common among Chinese migrants in the Philippines dating from the 1900s would be purchasing of surnames, particularly during the American Colonial Period, when the Chinese Exclusion Act was applied to the Philippines. Such law led new Chinese migrants to 'purchase' the surnames of Filipinos and thus pass off as long time Filipino residents of Chinese descent or as ethnic Filipinos. Many also 'purchased' the Alien Landing Certificates of other Chinese who have gone back to China and assumed his surname and/or identity. Sometimes, younger Chinese migrants would circumvent the Act through adoption – wherein a Chinese with Philippine nationality adopts a relative or a stranger as his own children, thereby giving the adoptee automatic Filipino citizenship – and a new surname.Template:Citation needed

On the other hand, most Chinese Filipino whose ancestors came to the Philippines prior to 1898 use a Hispanicized surname (see below).

Hispanicized surnames

Chinese Filipino, 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 Angseeco (from ang/see/co/kho) Aliangan (from liang/gan), Angkeko (from ang/ke/co/kho), Chuacuco, Chuatoco, Chuateco, Ciacho (from Sia), Sinco, Cinco (from Go), Cojuangco, Corong, Cuyegkeng, Dioquino, Dytoc, Dy-Cok, Dypiangco, Dysangco, Dytioco, Gueco, Gokongwei, Gundayao, Kimpo/Quimpo, King/Quing, Landicho, Lanting, Limcuando, Ongpin, Pempengco, Quebengco, Siopongco, Sycip, Tambengco, Tambunting, Tanbonliong, Tantoco, Tiolengco, Tiongson, Yuchengco, Tanciangco, Yuipco, Yupangco, Licauco, Limcaco, Ongpauco, Tancangco, Tanchanco, Teehankee, Uytengsu and Yaptinchay among such others. These were originally full Chinese names which were transliterated into Spanish and adopted as surnames.[60]

There are also multiple syllable Chinese surnames that are Spanish transliterations of Hokkien words. Surnames like Tuazon (Eldest Grandson, 大孫), Dizon (Second Grandson, 二孫), Samson/Sanson (Third Grandson, 三孫), Sison (Fourth Grandson, 四孫), Gozon (Fifth Grandson, 五孫), Lacson (Sixth Grandson, 六孫) are examples of transliterations of designations that use the Hokkien suffix -son (孫) used as surnames for some Filipino Chinese who trace their ancestry from Chinese immigrants to the Philippines during the Spanish Colonial Period. The surname "Son/Sun" (孫) is listed in the classic Chinese text Hundred Family Surnames, perhaps shedding light on the Hokkien suffix -son used here as a surname alongside some sort of accompanying enumeration scheme.

The Chinese who survived the massacre in Manila in the 1700s fled to other parts of the Philippines and to hide their identity, some have had their surnames modified by changing/replacing/adding letters or syllables to the original Chinese surname so as to make it sound like a native surname, while some also adopted two-syllable Chinese surnames ending in “son” or “zon” and "co" such as: Yanson = Yan = 燕孫, Ganzon = Gan = 颜孫(Hokkien), Guanzon = Guan/Kwan = 关孫 (Cantonese), Tiongson/Tiongzon = Tiong = 钟孫 (Hokkien), Cuayson/Cuayzon = 邱孫 (Hokkien), Yuson = Yu = 余孫, Tingson/Tingzon = Ting = 陈孫 (Hokchew), Siason = Sia = 谢孫 (Hokkien).[61]

Many Filipinos who have Hispanicized Chinese surnames are no longer full Chinese, but are Chinese mestizos.



Lumpia (Hokkien: 潤餅), a spring roll of Chinese origin.

Traditional Tsinoy cuisine, as Filipino Chinese home-based dishes are locally known, make use of recipes that are traditionally found in China's Fujian Province and fuse them with locally available ingredients and recipes. These include unique foods such as hokkien chha-peng (Fujianese-style fried rice), si-nit mi-soa (birthday noodles), pansit canton (Fujianese-style e-fu noodles), hong ma or humba (braised pork belly), sibut (four-herb chicken soup), hototay (Fujianese egg drop soup), kiampeng (Fujianese beef fried rice), machang (glutinous rice with adobo) and taho (a dessert made of soft tofu, arnibal syrup and pearl sago).

However, most Chinese restaurants in the Philippines, as in other places, feature Cantonese, Shanghainese and Northern Chinese cuisines, rather than traditional Fujianese fare.


With the increasing number of Chinese with Philippine nationality, the number of political candidates of Chinese-Filipino descent also started to increase. The most significant change within Filipino Chinese political life would be the citizenship decree promulgated by former President Ferdinand Marcos which opened the gates for thousands of Filipino Chinese to formally adopt Philippine citizenship.

Filipino Chinese political participation largely began with the People Power Revolution of 1986 which toppled the Marcos dictatorship and ushered in the Aquino presidency. The Chinese have been known to vote in blocs in favor of political candidates who are favorable to the Chinese community.

Important Philippine political leaders with Chinese ancestry include the current and former presidents Rodrigo Duterte, Benigno Aquino III, Cory Aquino, Sergio Osmeña, Manuel Quezon and Ferdinand Marcos, former senators Nikki Coseteng, Alfredo Lim and Roseller Lim, as well as several governors, congressmen and mayors throughout the Philippines. Many ambassadors and recent appointees to the presidential cabinet are also Filipino Chinese like Arthur Yap and Bong Go.

The late Cardinal Jaime Sin and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle also have Chinese ancestry.

Society and culture

The dragon dance is still a popular tradition among Chinese Filipinos.
Welcome Arch, Manila Chinatown, Ongpin-Binondo, Manila, Filipino-Chinese Bridge of Friendship
Davao Chinatown in Davao City is the biggest Chinatown in the Philippines and the only one in Mindanao.


The Filipino Chinese are mostly business ownersTemplate:According to whom 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.

Filipino Chinese 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 Filipino Chinese are urban dwellers. An estimated 50% of the Filipino Chinese live within Metro Manila, with the rest in the other major cities of the Philippines. In contrast with the Chinese mestizos, few Chinese are plantation owners. This is partly due to the fact that until recently when the Filipino Chinese became Filipino citizens, the law prohibited the non-citizens, which most Chinese were, from owning land.


As with other Southeast Asian nations, the Chinese community in the Philippines has become a repository of traditional Chinese culture common to unassimilated ethnic minorities throughout the world. Whereas in mainland China many cultural traditions and customs were suppressed during the Cultural Revolution or simply regarded as old-fashioned nowadays, 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 Filipino Chinese have developed unique customs pertaining to weddings, birthdays and funerary rituals.

Wedding traditions of Filipino Chinese, regardless of religious persuasion, usually involve identification of the dates of supplication/pamamanhikan (kiu-hun), engagement (ting-hun) and wedding (kan-chhiu) adopted from Filipino customs, through feng shui based on the birthdates of the couple, as well as of their parents and grandparents. Certain customs found among Filipino Chinese include the following: During supplication (kiu-hun), a solemn tea ceremony within the house of the groom ensues where the couple will be served tea, egg noodles (misua) and given ang-paos (red packets containing money). During the supplication ceremony, pregnant women and recently engaged couples are forbidden from attending the ceremony. Engagement (ting-hun) quickly follows, where the bride enters the ceremonial room walking backward and turned three times before being allowed to see the groom. A welcome drink consisting of red-colored juice is given to the couple, quickly followed by the exchange of gifts for both families and the Wedding tea ceremony, where the bride serves the groom's family and vice versa. The engagement reception consists of sweet tea soup and misua, both of which symbolizes long-lasting relationship. Before the wedding, the groom is expected to provide the matrimonial bed in the future couple's new home. A baby born under the Chinese sign of the Dragon may be placed in the bed to ensure fertility. He is also tasked to deliver the wedding gown to his bride on the day prior to the wedding to the sister of the bride, as it is considered ill fortune for the groom to see the bride on that day. For the bride, she prepares an initial batch of personal belongings (ke-chheng) to the new home, all wrapped and labeled with the Chinese characters for sang-hi. On the wedding date, the bride wears a red robe emblazoned with the emblem of a dragon prior to wearing the bridal gown, to which a pair of sang-hi (English: marital happiness) coin is sewn. Before leaving her home, the bride then throws a fan bearing the Chinese characters for sang-hi toward her mother to preserve harmony within the bride's family upon her departure. Most of the wedding ceremony then follows Catholic or Protestant traditions. Post-Wedding rituals include the two single brothers or relatives of the bride giving the couple a wa-hoe set, which is a bouquet of flowers with umbrella and sewing kit, for which the bride gives an ang-pao in return. After three days, the couple then visits the bride's family, upon which a pair of sugar cane branch is given, which is a symbol of good luck and vitality among Hokkien people.[62]

Birthday traditions of Filipino Chinese involves large banquet receptions, always featuring noodles[63] and round-shaped desserts. All the relatives of the birthday celebrant are expected to wear red clothing which symbolize respect for the celebrant. Wearing clothes with a darker hue is forbidden and considered bad luck. During the reception, relatives offer ang paos (red packets containing money) to the birthday celebrant, especially if he is still unmarried. For older celebrants, boxes of egg noodles (misua) and eggs on which red paper is placed are given.

Births of babies are not celebrated and they are usually given pet names, which he keeps until he reaches first year of age. The Philippine custom of circumcision is widely practiced within the Filipino Chinese community regardless of religion, albeit at a lesser rate as compared to ethnic Filipinos .Template:Citation needed First birthdays are celebrated with much pomp and pageantry, and grand receptions are hosted by the child's paternal grandparents.

Funerary traditions of Filipino Chinese mirror those found in Fujian. A unique tradition of many Filipino Chinese families is the hiring of professional mourners which is alleged to hasten the ascent of a dead relative's soul into Heaven. This belief particularly mirrors the merger of traditional Chinese beliefs with the Catholic religion.[64]

Subculture according to Acculturation

Filipino Chinese, especially in Metro Manila, are also divided into several social types. These types are not universally accepted as a fact, but are nevertheless recognized by most Filipino Chinese to be existent. These reflect an underlying generational gap within the community.:[65]

  • Culturally pure Chinese—Consists of Filipino Chinese who speaks fluent Hokkien and heavily accented Filipino and/or English. Characterized as the "traditional shop-keeper image", they hardly socialize outside the Chinese community and insist on promoting Chinese language and values over others and acculturation as opposed to assimilation into the general Philippine community. Most of the older generation and many of the younger ones belong to this category.
  • Binondo/Camanava Chinese—Consists of Filipino Chinese who speaks fluent Hokkien and good Filipino and/or English. Their social contacts are largely Chinese, but also maintain contacts with some Filipinos. Most of them own light or heavy industry manufacturing plants or are into large-scale entrepreneurial trading and real estate. Most tycoons such as Henry Sy, Lucio Tan and John Gokongwei would fall into this category, as well as most Filipino Chinese residing in Binondo district of Manila, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela, hence the term.
  • Greenhills/Quezon City Chinese—Consists of Filipino Chinese who prefer to speak English (or Taglish) as their first language, but poor or passable Hokkien and Mandarin. Most belong to the younger generation of Manila-based Chinese. Culturally, they are influenced by Western/Filipino thought and culture. Many enter the banking, computer science, engineering, finance and medical professions. Many live in the Greenhills area and in the La Loma, New Manila, Sta. Mesa Heights and Corinthian Garden districts of Quezon City, hence the term.
  • Probinsyanong Chinese—Consists of Filipino Chinese who largely reside outside of Metro Manila. They speak Tagalog, Cebuano or a Philippine language, but are fluent in English and mostly poor in Hokkien. They are known by other Chinese as the probinsyanong Intsik.

Subculture according to Period of arrivals

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 integrated into Philippine society. Most are from Guangdong province in China, with a minority coming from Fujian. They have embraced a Hispanized Filipino culture since the 17th century. After the end of Spanish rule, their descendants, the Chinese mestizos, managed to invent a cosmopolitan mestizo cultureTemplate:Citation needed coupled with an extravagant Mestizo de Sangley lifestyle, intermarrying either with ethnic Filipinos or with Spanish mestizos.

The largest group of Chinese 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. They are almost entirely from Fujian Province.

The "Third Chinese" are the second largest group of Chinese, 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 seen by some "Second Chinese" as a business threat. Meanwhile, continuing immigration from Mainland China further enlarge this group[66]

Civic organizations

Aside from their family businesses, Filipino Chinese are active in Chinese-oriented civic organizations related to education, health care, public safety, social welfare and public charity. As most Filipino Chinese 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 community. Beyond the traditional family and clan associations, Filipino Chinese tend to be active members of numerous alumni associations holding annual reunions for the benefit of their Chinese-Filipino secondary schools.[67] Outside of secondary schools catering to Filipino Chinese, some Filipino Chinese businessmen have established charitable foundations that aim to help others and at the same time minimize tax liabilities. Notable ones include the Gokongwei Brothers Foundation, Metrobank Foundation, Tan Yan 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, Filipino Chinese were instrumental in establishing and building medical centers that cater for the Chinese community such as the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center, the Metropolitan Medical Center, Chong Hua Hospital and the St. Luke's Medical Center, Inc.,Template:Citation needed 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.[68] In addition to fighting crime against Chinese, Filipino Chinese have organized volunteer fire brigades all over the country, reportedly the best in the nation.[69] that cater to the Chinese community. In the arts and culture, the Bahay Tsinoy and the Yuchengco Museum were established by Filipino Chinese to showcase the arts, culture and history of the Chinese.[70]

Ethnic Chinese Filipino perception of Non-Chinese Filipinos

Non-Chinese Filipinos were initially referred to as huan-á (番仔) by ethnic Chinese Filipinos in the Philippines. It is also used in other Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia by Hokkien-speaking ethnic Chinese to refer to peoples of Malay ancestry.[71] In Taiwan, it is also used but it has become a taboo term with negative stigma since it was used to refer to indigenous Taiwanese aboriginals[72] and the Japanese during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan.[73] The term itself in mainland China originally just meant "foreigner" but at times may also have been considered derogatory[71] since it could negatively connote to "barbarian/outsider" by some who had negative views on certain neighboring non-Chinese peoples that certain groups historically lived with since for centuries this was the term predominantly used to refer to non-Chinese people, but today, it does not necessarily carry its original connotations, depending on the speaker's perceptions and culture of how they grew up to learn to perceive the term, since in the Philippines, its present usage now mostly just plainly refers to any non-Chinese Filipinos.[74] When speaking Hokkien, most older Chinese Filipinos still use the term, while younger Chinese Filipinos may sometimes instead use the term Hui-li̍p-pin lâng (菲律賓儂), which directly means, "Philippine person" or simply "Filipino".

Some Chinese Filipinos perceive the government and authorities to be unsympathetic to the plight of the ethnic Chinese, especially in terms of frequent kidnapping for ransom during the late 1990s.[75] Currently, most of the third or fourth generation Chinese Filipinos generally view the non-Chinese Filipino people and government positively, and have largely forgotten about the historical oppression of the ethnic Chinese. They are also most likely to consider themselves as just being "Filipino" and focus on the Philippines, rather than on just being "Chinese" and being associated with China (PRC) or Taiwan (ROC).

Some Chinese Filipinos believe racism still exists toward their community among a minority of non-Chinese Filipinos, who the Chinese Filipinos refer to as "pâi-huâ" (排華) in Philippine Hokkien. Organizations belonging to this category include the Laspip Movement, headed by Adolfo Abadeza, as well as the Kadugong Liping Pilipino, founded by Armando "Jun" Ducat Jr. that stirred tensions around the late 1990s.[76][77][78][79] During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, some Chinese Filipinos have also voiced concerns about sinophobic sentiments that some non-Chinese Filipinos may carry against ethnic Chinese, especially those from mainland China due to being the site of the first coronavirus outbreak, that may sometimes extend and generalize on Chinese Filipinos.[80] Chinese Filipino organizations have discouraged the Filipino public from being discriminatory, particularly against Chinese nationals amid the global spread of COVID-19.[81]


Chinese mestizos are persons of mixed Chinese and either Spanish or indigenous Filipino ancestry. They are thought to make up as much as 25% of the country's total 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.

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 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 to the unconverted, non-citizen Chinese. Starting as traders, they branched out into landleasing, moneylending and later, landholding.

Chinese mestizo men and women were encouraged to marry Spanish and indigenous women and men,Template:Citation needed by means of dowries,Template:Citation needed in a policy to mix the races of the Philippines so it would be impossible to expel the Spanish.[82]Template:Rp

In these days however, blood purity is still of prime concern in most traditional Chinese Filipino families especially pure-blooded ones. The Chinese believe that a Chinese must only be married to a fellow Chinese since the marriage to a Filipino or any outsider was considered taboo.

Chinese marriage to Filipinos and outsiders posts uncertainty on both parties. The Chinese family structure is patriarchal hence, it is the male that carries the last name of the family which also carries the legacy of the family itself. Male Chinese marriage to a Filipina or any outsider is more admissible than vice versa. In the case of the Chinese female marrying a Filipino or any outsider, it may cause several unwanted issues especially on the side of the Chinese family.

In some instances, a member of a traditional Chinese Filipino family may be denied of his or her inheritance and likely to be disowned by his or her family by marrying an outsider without their consent. However, there are exceptions in which intermarriage to a Filipino or any outsider is permissible provided the aforementioned's family is well-off and/or influential.

On the other hand, modern Chinese Filipino families allow their children to marry a Filipino or any outsider. However, many of them would still prefer that the Filipino or any outsider would have some or little Chinese blood.

Trade and industry


Ethnic Chinese stockbrokers dominate the Manila Stock Exchange and control more than half of the nations stock market.[83][84][85][86] The Manila Stock Exchange is now teeming with thousands of prospering Filipino Chinese dominated stock brokerage firms.[6][87]

Like much of Southeast Asia, ethnic Chinese dominate Philippine commerce at every level of society.[5][88][89] Filipino Chinese wield a tremendous economic clout unerringly disproportionate to their small population size over their indigenous Filipino majority counterparts and play a critical role in maintaining the country's economic vitality and prosperity.[7][90] With their powerful economic prominence, the Chinese virtually make up the country's entire wealthy elite.[87][91][92] Filipino Chinese in the aggregate, represent a disproportionate wealthy, market-dominant minority not only form a distinct ethnic community, they also form, by and large, an economic class: the commercial middle and upper class in contrast to the poorer indigenous Filipino majority working and underclass.[5][92] Entire posh Chinese enclaves have sprung up in major Filipino cities across the country, literally walled off from the poorer indigenous Filipino masses guarded by heavily armed, private security forces.[5]

Ethnic Chinese have been major players in the Filipino business sector and dominated the economy of the Philippines for centuries long before the pre-Spanish and American colonial eras.[93] Long before the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, Chinese merchants carried on trading activities with native communities along the coast of modern Mainland China. By the time the Spanish arrived, Chinese controlled all the trading and commercial activities, serving as retailers, artisans, and providers of food for various Spanish settlements.[8] During the American colonial epoch, ethnic Chinese controlled a large percentage of the retail trade and internal commerce of the country. They predominated the retail trade and owned 75 percent of the 2,500 rice mills scattered along the Filipino islands.[94] Total resources of banking capital held by the Chinese was $27 million in 1937 to a high of $100 million in the estimated aggregate, making them second to the Americans in terms of total foreign capital investment held.[8] Under Spanish rule, Chinese were willing to engage in trade and other business activities. They were responsible for introducing sugar refining devices, new construction techniques, moveable type printing, and bronze making. Chinese also provided fishing, gardening, artisan, and other trading services. Many Chinese were drawn to business as they were prohibited from owning land and saw the only way out of poverty was through business and entrepreneurship, to take charge of their own financial destinies by becoming self-employed as vendors, retailers, traders, collectors, and distributors of goods and services.[95] Mainly attracted by the economic opportunity during the first four decades of the 20th century, American colonization of the Philippines allowed the Chinese to secure their economic clout among their entrepreneurial pursuits. The implementation of a free trade policy between the Philippines and the United States allowed the Chinese to take advantage of a burgeoning Filipino consumer market. As a result, Filipino Chinese were able to capture a significant market share by expanding their business lines in which they were the major players and ventured into then newly flourishing industries such as industrial manufacturing and financial services.[96]

Ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs are estimated to control 60 to 70 percent of the Philippine economy.[6][97][98][99][100][101][102][103][104][105] Filipino Chinese, comprising 1 of the population, control many of the Philippines' largest and most lucrative department store chains, supermarkets, hotels, shopping malls, airlines and fast-food restaurants in addition to all the major financial services corporations, banks and stock brokerage firms, and they dominate the nation's wholesale distribution networks, shipping, banking, construction, textiles, real estate, personal computer, semiconductors, pharmaceutical, media, and industrial manufacturing industries.[6][87][106] The Chinese are also involved in the processing and distribution of pharmaceutical products. More than 1000 firms are involved in this industry, with most being small and medium-sized companies with a total capitalization of 1.2 billion pesos.[107] Filipino Chinese also control six out of the ten English-language newspapers in Manila, including the one with the largest daily circulation.[87] Stores and restaurants around the country are owned by most of the leading entrepreneurs of Chinese extraction are regularly featured in Manila newspapers which attracted great public interest and were used to illustrate the Chinese community's strong economic influence.[108][109] Of the 66 percent remaining part of the economy in the Philippines held by either ethnic Chinese or Filipinos, the Chinese control 35 percent of all total sales.[110] Filipinos of Chinese origin control an estimated 50 to 60 percent of non-land share capital in the Philippines, and as much as 35 percent of total sales are attributed to the largest public and private firms controlled by ethnic Chinese.[111] They essentially focus on sectors such as semiconductors and chemicals, real estate, land and property development, banking, engineering, construction, fiber, textiles, finance, consumer electronics, food, and personal computers.[112] A third of the top 500 companies on the Philippines stock exchange are Chinese-owned.[113] Of the top 1000 firms, Filipino Chinese owned 36 percent. Among the top 100 companies, 43 percent were owned by Chinese Filipinos.[113] Between 1978 and 1988, Chinese controlled 146 of the country's 494 top companies.[114] Ethnic Chinese are estimated to control over one-third of the 1000 largest corporations and Chinese entrepreneurs control 47 of the 68 locally owned public companies.[115][116] 55 percent of overall Filipino private business is also generated by ethnic Chinese.[117] Chinese owned companies account for 66 percent of the sixty largest commercial entities.[118][119] In 2015, the top four wealthiest people in the Philippines (and ten out of the top fifteen) were ethnic Chinese.[106]

As Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs became more financially prosperous, they often pooled large amounts of seed capital and started joint ventures with Overseas Chinese business moguls and investors from all over the world. Filipino Chinese businesses link up with other ethnic Overseas Chinese businesses and networks concentrate on various industry sectors such as real estate development, engineering, textiles, consumer electronics, financial services, food, semiconductors and chemicals.[120] Many Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs are particularly strong adherents to the Confucian paradigm of intrapersonal relationships when doing business with each other.[121] Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs are particularly strong adherents to the Confucian paradigm of intrapersonal relationships. The spectacular growth of the Filipino Chinese business tycoons have allowed many Filipino Chinese corporations to start joint ventures with increasing numbers of expatriate Mainland Chinese investors.[122] Many Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs have a proclivity to reinvest most of their business profits for expansion. A small percentage of the firms were managed by Chinese with entrepreneurial talent, were able to grow their small enterprises into gargantuan conglomerates.[90] The term "Chinoy" is used in Filipino newspapers to refer to individuals with a degree of Chinese parentage who either speak a Chinese dialect or adhere to Chinese customs. Ethnic Chinese also dominate the Filipino telecommunications industry, where one of the current significant players in the industry is taipan John Gokongwei, whose conglomerate company JG Summit Holdings controls 28 wholly owned subsidiaries with interests ranging from food and agro-industrial products, hotels, insurance brokering, financial services, electronic components, textiles and garments, real estate, petrochemicals, power generation, printing services, newspaper, packaging materials, detergent products and cement.[123] Gokongwei started out in food processing in the 1950s, venturing into textile manufacturing in the early 1970s and then became active in real estate development and hotel management in the late 1970s. In 1976, Gokongwei established the Manila Midtown Hotels and now controls the Cebu Midtown hotel chain and the Manila Galeria Suites. In addition, he also owns substantial interests in PCI Bank and Far East Bank as well as one of the nation's oldest newspapers, The Manila Times.[124][125] Gokongwei's eldest daughter became publisher of the newspaper in December 1988 at the age of 28, at which during the same time her father acquired the paper from the Roceses, a Spanish Mestizo family.[126]

The Filipino fast food chain, Jollibee, which makes Filipino style burgers was founded by a Chinese Filipino entrepreneur and continues to remains as one of the most famous fast food outlets in the Philippines.[127]

In 1940, Filipino Chinese were estimated to control 70 percent of the country's retail trade and 75 percent of the nation's rice mills.[128] By 1948, the Chinese economic standing began to elevate even further wielding considerable influence as ethnic Chinese held a considerable percentage of the total commercial investment, 55 percent of the retail trade, and 85 percent of the lumber sector.[129] After the end of the Second Sino-Japanese war, Filipino Chinese controlled 85 percent of the nation's retail trade.[130] Ethnic Chinese also had controlled 40 percent of the importing and the retail trade with controlling interests in banking, oil refining, sugar milling, cement, tobacco, flour milling, glass, dairying, auto manufacturing and electronics.[131] Although the Filipino Hacienderos also have extensive businesses, Filipino Chinese had economic power exploding with the pro-market reforms of the late 1980s and 1990s by the Marcos administration. Today, Filipino Chinese control all of the Philippines's largest and most lucrative department store chains, major supermarkets, and fast-food restaurants.[6][87] In the fast-food industry, ethnic Chinese have been responsible for franchising Chowking, Greenwich Pizza, Mang Inasal, Red Ribbon and the Mainland China-based Yonghe Dawang (永和大王) as well as securing the rights for McDonald's (franchised by George Ty) and the Jollibee fast food chain which was founded by a Filipino Chinese.[127][132][133] The popularity of Jollibee has since then led to the expansion of its operations by setting up subsidiaries in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Guam, Brunei, and Indonesia.[123][134][135] In the 1980s. the Chinese began to veer their participation in large-scale retailing and ethnic Chinese emerged as one of the largest department store owners in the Philippines. One example is Rustan's, one of the most prestigious department store brands in the Philippines.[136] Filipino business magnates Henry Sy's Shoe Mart and John Gokongwei's Robinson's expanded rapidly, eventually evolving into shopping malls in various parts of Metro-Manila.[137] The Filipino Chinese taipan Lucio Tan began his business career in the cigarette industry and then catapulted himself into the major leagues after venturing into banking in 1977. Tan, whose flagship company Fortune Tobacco controls the largest market share of cigarette distribution in the country is now one richest men in the Philippines.[137] Tan has since then diversified into real estate and property development, hotels (Century Park Sheraton), and controls a majority interest in Philippine Airlines (PAL).[138] Since the 1970s, Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs have managed to re-establish themselves as the dominant players in the Filipino retail sector and with an estimated 8500 Chinese-owned retail and wholesale firms.[7][139] Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs control two-thirds of the sales of the country's sixty-seven biggest commercial retail outlets.[140] In terms of industry distribution, small and medium size Chinese firms account for half of the retail trade sector, with 49.45 percent of the retail sector alone being controlled by Henry Sy's Shoemart and the remaining share of the retail sector is dominated by a few larger firms that include thousands of small retail subsidiaries.[114][139][141] In addition, there are also roughly 3,000 fast food outlets and restaurants, especially those specializing in Chinese cuisine have attracted foreign investments from Hong Kong and Taiwan.[139][141] The Filipino Chinese business magnate, Henry Sy built his business empire out of his Shoe Mart department store chain, now has business interests in banking where he is majority owner of Banco de Oro, a commercial bank as well as owning a substantial interest in China Banking Corporation, a bank that offers seed capital catering to the needs of Chinese Filipino businessmen.[142] The Chinese Hokkien community tended to run capital intensive businesses such as banks, international shipping, rice mills, dry goods, and general stores while the Cantonese gravitated towards the hotel, restaurant, and laundry enterprises.[143][144] Filipino Chinese increased their role in domestic commercial sector acting as an intermediary of connecting producers with the consumer in the exchange of goods. They did it as a tight-knit group in an enclosed system by setting up their own distribution networks, locating major players, geographical coverage, location characteristics, business strategies, staff recruitment, store proliferation, and trade organizations.[144] Chinese retailers controlled a disproportionate share of several local goods such as rice, lumber products, and alcoholic drinks.[144] Some traders also branched into retailing these products into rice milling, logging, saw-milling, distillery, tobacco, coconut oil processing, footwear making, and agricultural processing. The domestic economy began to broaden by Chinese business activities and also brought new forms of entrepreneurship by venturing into new growth areas of the Filipino economy.[144] In the food and beverage industry, San Miguel Corporation, a Spanish Filipino-owned corporation founded in 1851 supplies the country's entire beverage needs. Two Chinese Filipino owned businesses, namely Lucio Tan's breweries and John Gokongwei's Universal Robina, along with a couple of lesser known beverage providers are now competing with other to gain the largest share in the Filipino food and beverage market.[91]

In terms of industry distribution, ethnic Chinese firms account for a third of the Filipino industrial manufacturing sector.[114] In the secondary industry, 75 percent of the country's 2,500 rice mills were Chinese-owned. Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs were also dominant in wood processing, and accounted for over 10 percent of the capital invested in the lumber industry and controlled 85 percent of it as well as accounting for 40 percent of the industry's annual output and controlled nearly all the sawmills in the nation.[145] Emerging import-substituting light industries would see the rise of active participation of Chinese entrepreneurs and owned several-salt works and a large number of small and medium-sized factories engaged in food processing as well as the production of leather and tobacco goods. The Chinese also dominate food processing with approximately 200 firms in this industry and exporting their finished products to Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. More than 200 companies are also involved in the production of paper, paper products, fertilizers, cosmetics, rubber products and plastics.[107] By the early 1960s, Chinese presence in the manufacturing sector became significant. Of the businesses that employed 10 or more workers, 35 percent were Chinese-owned and, in another study of 284 enterprises employing more than 100 workers, 37 percent were likewise Chinese-owned. Of the 163 domestic companies, 80 were Chinese-owned and included the manufacturing of coconut oil, food products, tobacco, textiles, plastic products, footwear, glass and certain types of metals such as tubes and pipes, wire rods, nails, bolts and containers while the Filipinos dominated sugar, rolling mills, industrial chemicals, fertilizers, cement, galvanizing plants and tin plates.[146] In 1965, Chinese Filipinos controlled 32 percent of the top industrial manufacturing firms.[136][147][148] Of the 259 manufacturing corporations belonging to the top 1000 in the country, Chinese owned 33.6% of the top manufacturing firms as well as 43.2% of the top commercial manufacturing firms in 1980.[114] By 1986, Chinese Filipino entrepreneurs controlled 45 percent of the nations top 120 domestic manufacturing companies.[94][136][149][150] These companies are mainly involved in tobacco and cigarettes, soap and cosmetics, textiles and rubber footwear.[121] The majority of Filipino industrial manufacturing companies that produce the processing of coconut products, flour, food products, textiles, plastic products, footwear, glass, as well as heavy industry products such as metals, steel, industrial chemicals, paper products, paints, leather, garments, sugar refining, timber processing, construction materials, food and beverages, rubber, plastics, semiconductors and personal computers are owned by the Chinese.[7][94][121][151]

From small trade cooperatives clustered by hometown pawn brokers, Filipino Chinese would go on to establish and incorporate the largest banking institutions in the country. Filipino Chinese have dominated the Philippine financial services sector and have been in the banking sector since the early part of the 20th century. The two earliest banks started were China Bank and the Mercantile Bank of China, established in 1920 and 1924 respectively.[152] The majority of the Philippines' principal banks are now Chinese-controlled, including Philippine Savings Bank and most notably Metrobank Group owned by businessman George Ty, the country's largest and most aggressive financial conglomerate.[87] All the smaller private commercial banks established in the 1950s and 1960s are owned and controlled by Chinese Filipinos.[153] The only exception of a non-Chinese owned bank was the Spanish Filipino Lopez-owned Philippine Commercial International Bank, which was taken over by Henry Sy Sr.'s investment company SM Investments Corporation during the mid 2000s and reemerged as a subsidiary of Banco de Oro in 2007. By 1970, the five largest banks, holding almost 50 percent of all assets in the banking industry China Banking Corporation, Citibank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Equitable PCI Bank and the government-owned Philippine National Bank were under Chinese control.[94] By 1995, Chinese-Filipino banks had captured an even greater share of the Philippine's financial services sector after the government-owned Philippine National Bank was partially privatized where four of the top five banks were substantially controlled by Chinese shareholders with the Filipino Chinese banks claiming 48 percent of all bank assets and over 60 percent of all those held by private domestic commercial banks.[94] By the mid-1990s ethnic Chinese controlled 40 percent of the national corporate equity.[141] In terms of industry distribution, Chinese firms account for a quarter of the financial services sector.[114] The majority of the country's nine principal banks are majority owned by Filipino Chinese shareholders, such as the Allied Banking Corporation, Banco de Oro group, China Banking Corporation (Chinabank), East West Banking Corporation, Metrobank group, Philippine Trust Company (Philtrust Bank), Rizal Commercial Banking group, Security Bank Corporation (Security Bank) and the United Coconut Planters Bank.[141] Most of these banks comprise a larger part of an umbrella owned family conglomerate with assets exceeding $100 billion pesos.[139] The total combined assets of all the Chinese-Filipino commercial banks account for 25.72 percent of all the total assets in the entire Philippine commercial banking system.[7] Among the nation's 35 banks, ethnic Chinese on average control 35 percent of total banking equity.[154] There are also 23 Chinese-owned insurance companies, with some branches overseas and in Hong Kong.[152]

Of the 500 real estate firms in the Philippines, 120 are Chinese-owned and mostly specialize in real estate development and construction and are concentrated in Metropolitan Manila.[155] The Chinese dominated the Philippine real estate and property sectors which for a long time been controlled by the Spanish Filipinos. Initially, ethnic Chinese were not allowed to own land until acquiring Filipino citizenship in the 1970s. Presently, many of the biggest real estate developers in the Philippines are of Chinese lineage. Large projects such as the Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong and the Tagaytay Highlands Golf Club and Resort development in Tagatay City were such joint projects. These partnerships were largely forged by ethnic Chinese tycoons such as the Chinese Indonesian business magnate Liem Sioe Liong, Malaysian businessman Robert Kuok and Filipino Chinese tycoons Andrew Gotinun, Henry Sy, George Ty and Lucio Tan.[91]

Filipino Chinese also pioneered the shipping industry in the Philippines which eventually became a major industry sector as a means of transporting goods cheaply and quickly between the islands. The Chinese are dominant in the shipping industry and in sea transport as sea transport was one of the few efficient methods of transporting goods cheaply and quickly across a country, with the Philippines being an archipelago, comprising more than 1000 islands and inlets.[146] There are 12 Filipino Chinese families engaged in inter-island transport and shipping, particularly with the shipping of food products requiring refrigeration with a capitalization of 10 billion pesos. Taiwanese expatriate investors have participated in various joint ventures, opening up route between Manila and Cebu.[107] Important shipping firms owned by the ethnic Chinese include Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Gothong Lines, Lite Shipping Corporation, Sulpicio Lines which was associated with recent tragedy that lead to deaths of hundreds and Trans-Asia Shipping Lines.[156] One enterprising and pioneering Chinese Filipino was William Chiongbian, who established William Lines in 1949, which by the end of 1993, was the most profitable inter-island shipping company ranking first in gross revenue generated as well as net income among the country's seven biggest shipping firms.[146] The inter-island shipping industry is dominated by four Chinese-owned shipping lines led by William Chiongbian's William Lines.[7] Likewise, Filipino Chinese own all of the major airlines of the Philippines, including the flagship carrier Philippine Airlines, AirphilExpress, Cebu Pacific, South East Asian Airlines, Manila Air and Zest Air.[7]

As ethnic Chinese economic might grew, much of the indigenous Filipino majority were gradually driven out into poorer land on the hills, on the outskirts of major Filipino cities or into the mountains.[88] Disenchantment grew among the displaced indigenous Filipinos who felt they were unable compete with ethnic Chinese businesses.[157] Underlying resentment and bitterness from the impoverished Filipino majority has been accumulating as there has been no existence of indigenous Filipino having any substantial business equity in the Philippines.[88] Decades of free market liberalization brought virtually no economic benefit to the indigenous Filipino majority but rather the opposite resulting a subjugated indigenous Filipino majority underclass, where the vast majority still engage in rural peasantry, menial labor or domestic service and squatting.[87][88] The Filipino government has dealt with this wealth disparity by establishing socialist and communist dictatorships or authoritarian regimes while pursuing a systematic and ruthless affirmative action campaigns giving privileges to the indigenous Filipino majority during the 1950s and 1960s.[157][158] The rise of economic nationalism among the impoverished indigenous Filipino majority prompted by the Filipino government resulted the passing of the Retail Trade Nationalization Law of 1954, where ethnic Chinese were barred and pressured to move out of the retail sector restricting engagement to Filipino citizens only.[158] In addition, the Chinese were prevented from owning land by restricting land ownership to Filipinos only. Other restrictions on Chinese economic activities included limiting Chinese involvement in the import-export trade while trying to increase the indigenous Filipino involvement to gain a proportionate presence. In 1960, the Rice and Corn Nationalization Law was passed restricting trading, milling and warehousing of rice and corn only to Filipinos while barring Chinese involvement, in which they initially had a significant presence.[157][158][159][160] These policies ultimately backfired on the government as the laws had an overall negative impact on the government tax revenue which dropped significantly because the country's biggest share of taxpayers were Chinese, who eventually took their capital out of the country to invest elsewhere.[157][158] The increased economic clout held in the hands of the Chinese has triggered suspicion, instability, ethnic hatred, and anti-Chinese hostility among the indigenous ethnic Filipino majority towards the Chinese minority.[89] Such hostility has resulted in the kidnapping of hundreds of Chinese by ethnic Filipinos since the 1990s.[89] Many victims, often children are often brutally murdered, even after a ransom is paid.[88][89] 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 continues to this very day.[32][89] Thousands of displaced Filipino hill tribes and aborigines continue to live in satellite shantytowns on the outskirts of Manila in economic destitution where two-thirds of the country's indigenous Filipino's live on less than 2 dollars per day in extreme poverty.[88] Such hatred, envy, grievance, insecurity and resentment is ready at any moment to be catalyzed by the indigenous Filipino majority as many Chinese Filipino's are subject to kidnapping, vandalism, murder and violence.[161] Anti-Chinese sentiment among the indigenous Filipino majority is deeply rooted in poverty but also feelings of resentment and exploitation are also exhibited among ethnic Filipinos blaming their socioeconomic failures on the Chinese.[89][161][162]

Future trends

Most of the younger generations of pure Chinese Filipinos are descendants of Chinese who migrated during the 1800s onward – this group retains much of Chinese culture, customs, and work ethic (though not necessarily language), whereas almost all Chinese mestizos are descendants of Chinese who migrated even before the Spanish colonial period and have been integrated and assimilated into the general Philippine society as a whole.

There are four trends that the Filipino Chinese would probably undertake within a generation or so:

  • assimilation and integration, as in the case of Chinese Thais who eventually lost their genuine Chinese heritage and adopted Thai culture and language as their own
  • separation, where the Filipino Chinese community can be clearly distinguished from the other ethnic groups in the Philippines; reminiscent of most Chinese Malaysians
  • returning to the ancestral land, which is the current phenomenon of overseas Chinese returning to China
  • emigration to North America and Australasia, as in the case of some Chinese Malaysians and many Chinese Vietnamese (Hoa people)

During the 1970s, Fr. Charles McCarthy, an expert in Philippine-Chinese relations, observed that "the peculiarly Chinese content of the Philippine-Chinese subculture is further diluted in succeeding generations" and he made a prediction that "the time will probably come and it may not be far off, when, in this sense, there will no more 'Chinese' in the Philippines". This view is still controversial however, with the constant adoption of new cultures by Filipinos contradicting this thought.

Integration and assimilation

Assimilation is defined as the adoption of the cultural norms of the dominant or host culture, while integration is defined as the adoption of the cultural norms of the dominant or host culture while maintaining their culture of origin.

As of the present day, due to the effects of globalization in the Philippines, there has been a marked tendency to assimilate to Filipino lifestyles influenced by the US, among ethnic Chinese. This is especially true for younger Filipino Chinese living in Metro Manila[163] who are gradually shifting to English as their preferred language, thus identifying more with Western culture, at the same time speaking Chinese among themselves. Similarly, as the cultural divide between Filipino Chinese and other Filipinos erode, there is a steady increase of intermarriages with ethnic Filipinos, with their children completely identifying with the Filipino culture and way of life. Assimilation is gradually taking place in the Philippines, albeit at a slower rate as compared to Thailand.[164]

On the other hand, the largest Filipino Chinese organization, the Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran openly espouses eventual integration but not assimilation of the Filipino Chinese with the rest of Philippine society and clamors for maintaining Chinese language education and traditions.

Meanwhile, the general Philippine public is largely neutral regarding the role of the Filipino Chinese in the Philippines, and many have embraced Filipino Chinese as fellow Filipino citizens and even encouraged them to assimilate and participate in the formation of the Philippines' destiny.


Separation is defined as the rejection of the dominant or host culture in favor of preserving their culture of origin, often characterized by the presence of ethnic enclaves.

The recent rapid economic growth of both China and Taiwan as well as the successful business acumen of Overseas Chinese have fueled among many Filipino Chinese a sense of pride through immersion and regaining interest in Chinese culture, customs, values and language while remaining in the Philippines.Template:Citation needed

Despite the community's inherent ethnocentrism – there are no active proponents for political separation, such as autonomy or even independence, from the Philippines, partly due to the small size of the community relative to the general Philippine population, and the scattered distribution of the community throughout the archipelago, with only half residing in Metro Manila.

Returning to the ancestral land

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.[165]

As above, the fast economic growth of China and the increasing popularity of Chinese culture has also helped fan pro-China patriotism among a majority of Filipino Chinese who espouse 愛國愛鄉 (ài guó ài xiāng) sentiments (love of ancestral country and hometown). Some Filipino Chinese, especially those belonging to the older generation, still demonstrate ài guó ài xiāng by donating money to fund clan halls, school buildings, Buddhist temples and parks in their hometowns in China.

Emigration to North America and Australasia

During the 1990s to the early 2000s, Philippine economic difficulties and more liberal immigration policies in destination countries have led to well-to-do Filipino Chinese families to acquire North American or Australasian passports and send their children abroad to attend prestigious North America or Australasian Universities.[166] Many of these children are opting to remain after graduation to start professional careers in North America or Australasia, like their Chinese brethren from other parts of Asia.

Many Philippine-educated Filipino Chinese from middle-class families are also migrating to North America and Australasia for economic advantages. Those who have family businesses regularly commute between North America (or Australasia) 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.[167]

With the increase in political stability and economic growth in Asia, this trend is becoming significantly less popular for Filipino Chinese.

Notable people

Template:See also

See also


Template:Clear right


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Further reading

  • Amyot, Jacques, S.J. The Chinese Community of Manila: A Study of Adaptation of Chinese Familism to the Philippine Environment. Philippine Studies Program, Research Series No. 2, University of Chicago Department of Anthropology (mimeographed), 1960.

External links

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Template:Ethnic groups in the Philippines Template:Overseas Chinese2
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