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The rich heritage of Chinese-Filipinos has deeply impacted the local community. Here are five things you may not know about their history

For centuries, local immigrants from China have forged a path to establish a unique Chinese-Filipino culture in our country. Today, we list some of the most interesting facts about one of the most influential communities in the Philippines: 

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1. Most of the Chinese-Filipino community come from similar provinces

Most Chinese-Filipinos in the country can trace their roots back to either Fujian province or Guangdong province in the southern part of China. As such, many of them also share the same dialect, which is Hokkien. This particular language is spoken in plenty of countries (though in different accents): these include Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia and shows the extent of Chinese immigration across Asian countries. 

See also: Chinese New Year Trivia: Why Is Nian Gao Called Tikoy, Leftover Tikoy Recipes, and More

2. Binondo is the world's first Chinatown

Binondo is the world's first, and therefore the oldest, Chinatown in the world! Those humble streets located at the heart of Manila were established in 1594 and remain to be of cultural significance to local Chinese. Here, one can find historic sites such as the Capitol Theatre (designed by National Artist Juan Nakpil), the 100-year old China Banking Corporation Building, and various Chinese eateries frequented by locals and tourists alike. 

Read more: Binondo Food Trip: Where to Get the Best Chinese Delicacies in Manila's Old Chinatown

3. The Chinese were in the Philippines before Spanish colonisation

Way before the Spaniards "discovered" the Philippines, Chinese traders and settlers were already conducting business in the country. Trade was a common occurrence between both nations by the 12th century when the Chinese brought in items such as silk and porcelain in exchange for local beeswax and sea slugs. Despite this, the Spaniards took it upon themselves to control the Chinese population by limiting residential and occupational freedoms, deportations, and even periodic violence

4. Chinese influence is found in plenty of Filipino food

Jollibee, arguably the world's most famous Filipino franchise, is founded by Chinese-Filipino businessman Tony Tan Caktiong. Other traditional Filipino foods—such as pancit (bihon, mami) and taho, all of which are local staples—have been influenced by the Chinese so much so that their Filipino lexicon had been borrowed from Hokkien words. For example, the word toyo, which is soy sauce in Tagalog, came from the Hokkien word tāu-iû.  

5. The Chinese community in the Philippines is smaller than those in other ASEAN countries

Despite the huge influence that local Chinese have on the Filipino culture, they are a fairly small minority in the country. Nations such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia boast a much bigger Chinese population than the Philippines, in the past and even today. Yet, the Chinese have proven its influence on the Filipino community with massive businesses (such as SM, founded by Chinese-Filipino, Henry Sy), and even in the field of politics (former president Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, and therefore, her son, Benigno Aquino III are descendants of Chinese immigrant Co Yuan Hwan). 


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