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Friday, June 5, 2015, 14:37

Chinese make a social impact

By ZHANG YAN in Manila

From relief to education efforts, business leaders set up programs to help philippine communities.

 Chinese make a social impact
Firemen fight a blaze that gutted a slipper factory, killing 72 people, in northern Metro Manila on May 13. Members of the Filipino-Chinese business community donated money to each victim’s family as part of their ongoing charitable work

The massive fire that hit the Kentex slipper factory in Valenzuela in northern Metro Manila on May 13 caused shocks throughout the Philippines, and across the world. Killing 72, it was the third biggest industrial disaster the country has ever witnessed.

Seven days after the tragedy, Angel Ngu, president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc (FFCCCII), came to the site and donated 10,000 pesos ($225) to each victim’s family on behalf of the Chinese-Filipino community.

Chinese make a social impact
Angel Ngu, president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc.(ZHANG YAN / CHINADAILY Asia Weekly)
“It is one of the FFCCCII’s missions,” Ngu, whose Chinese name is Zhang Zhaohe, tells China Daily Asia Weekly, referring to the federation’s major goal to provide relief efforts.

The largest organization of Chinese-Filipino businesspeople in the country, he says, has six foundations to offer relief support during natural disasters and calamities, in coordination with the local government.

Such a move highlights the efforts of the Chinese-Filipino community to play a larger role in Philippine society beyond just being businesspeople, which is what many Filipinos imagine them to be.

There are an estimated 1.5 million Chinese-Filipinos residing in the Philippines, or 1.5 percent of the country’s population. Known locally as Tsinoy, most of them were born and raised in the archipelago.

Over the past centuries in the Philippines, the Tsinoys have cemented their reputation as outstanding businesspeople.

By the 16th century, Chinese-Filipino trade relations had become “a way of life” in the coastal areas of the archipelago, as explained by the text on the wall of the Bahay Tsinoy: Museum of Chinese in Philippine life in Central Manila. The pictures and artifacts on display in this museum show the richness of the Chinese-Filipino heritage in the Philippines.

Chinese-Filipino businesspeople play an important role in the country’s economic development, Ngu says, noting that among the top 10 wealthiest people in the archipelago, eight are of Chinese descent.

“It’s not because we are smarter. What we learned from our parents is the practice of hard work and frugality,” he says.

But despite their “great influence” in the Philippine economy, Ngu admits that they have “little influence” on politics.

Ngu says he has launched a legal study center focusing on improving the community’s political influence. He says many of the current representatives of Philippine Congress graduated from Chinese schools.

“They are different from the earlier politicians,” Ngu says. “Chinese-Filipinos are represented in all levels of Philippine society and are integrated politically and economically.”

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