Roman Ongpin

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Roman Ongpin y Tanbensiang (28 February 1847-10 Dec 1912) was a Chinese businessman, philanthropist, nationalist, and civic citizen in the late 19th century who also secretly supported the Philippine Revolution. He and his son Alfonso Ongpin ran an artist's supply store El 82 in Binondo, Manila.

Early Life

Don Roman was born in Binondo, Manila. His father Simon Ongpin (1819-1892) was a new immigrant from Fujian, China, who established himself in the candle industry. His mother was [[Sinforosa Tanbensiang (1825-1881). The young Roman was formally educated and received his training in business from his father.


He displayed early on his leadership qualities when he was appointed "primer teniente de mestizos" of Binondo from 1883 to 1885. At the age of 35 he established the art supplies store El 82 on 1 March 1882 at Rosario Street, Binondo, Manila. It was so named to honor the year of his father's death and the year of its founding. The store pioneered the concept of fixed prices and attracted a luminary circle of clients, including Antonio and Juan Luna, Pedro Paterno, Mariano Limjap, Pascual Poblete and others. The store sold paints, varnishes, art supplies and other tools, and became a popular meeting place and source of propaganda updates.

In catering to the needs of artist, Roman Ongpin, like his son Alfonso, became an art patron. On the outside he supported the Spanish colonial administration, but he secretly ran supplies and ammunition to the revolutionaries. When his store burned down on February 6, 1898 he donated the insurance proceeds to General Emilio Aguinaldo. The store on Rosario Street was moved to Calle Colon.

He continued his unwaverying support to the Filipino cause even during the American colonial regime, such that he he was caught and put in prison from December 6, 1900 to March 23,1901. A year before he died, he was able to build a 5-storey building designed by architect Arcadio Arellano on Juan Luna Street.

He risked his life, business and fortune by being a true supporter of the Philippine revolution. He was also a supporter of numerous causes, including the La Proteccion de la Infancian, Gota de Leche, and the Casa Asilo de Invalidos Filipinos por la Guerra. He supported the fiery nationalist Isabelo de los Reyes, becoming the first treasurer of Union Obrera de Filipinas.

Family Life

Don Roman married Pascuala Domingo, the granddaughter of the country's first artist Damian Domingo. They had nineteen children, among which were Victoriano, Eustaquia, Leonila, Lorenza, Ramon, Alfonso, Constancio, and Celedonia.


Don Roman died on 10 December 1912 and true to his wishes he was buried in his favorite barong tagalog.A monument to him stands on the street named after him beside Binondo Church. He is buried in the family mausoleum in Cementerio del Norte, with his tombstone designed by Emilio Alvero with the motifs of the sampagita and ilang-ilang. In 1915 the city of Manila honored him by naming Calle Sacristia after him.


  • Manuel, E. Arsenio. "Dictionary of Philippine Biography, Vol. 1." Quezon City: Filipiniana, 1955.
  • Quirino, Carlos. Who’s who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995.
  • Valdes, Cynthia Ongpin. "At My Grandfather's Knee: A Portrait of Alfonso T. Ongpin." Metro Manila: Mission View Publishing, 2006.

External Links

  • Señor Enrique's blog [[1]]