Filipino-Chinese philanthropy spans more than a millennium


Clockwise from top left: Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong, Andrew Tan, John Gokongwei Jr., Lucio Tan, Henry Sy and Don Carlos Palanca. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

ALTHOUGH numerically small, the Chinese ethnic minority in the Philippines has been so engaged in philanthropy or helping those affected by calamities and the underserved sector.

Most of their charitable efforts had been low-key, with no hype or loud recognition even from the recipients themselves. In recent times, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and the onslaught of Typhoon Odette, through the Chinese Philippine Community Disaster Fund (FCCCF), they have helped many people by providing relief, medical supplies, food, essential shelter – 80 million pesos for calamity-stricken residents in Visayas and Mindanao earlier this year, and 300 million pesos in 2020 and 2021 for Covid-19 charities at national scale.

The Filipino-Chinese business umbrella organization, the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), had donated thousands of classrooms and rural public schools as part of its Barrio Schools operation. for his civic efforts.

Throughout the Philippines, Filipino Chinese volunteer fire brigades share their time and resources to help victims of fires and other disasters, regardless of the victims’ ethnic or socioeconomic background.

Also noteworthy are many private civic institutions in the Chinese Filipino business community, such as:

1. The Lucio Tan LT Group, Inc. conglomerate Tan Yan Kee Foundation, which was established by industrialist and philanthropist Lucio C. Tan in memory of his late father.

2. Metrobank Foundation founded by late banker, philanthropist George SK Ty

3. SM Foundation founded by the late shopping mall magnate, banker Henry Sy, Sr.

4. Gokongwei Brothers Foundation founded by late industrialist, philanthropist John Gokongwei, Jr. with his brothers.

5. Megaworld Foundation founded by real estate tycoon, industrialist Andrew Tan of Alliance Global Group

6. Don Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature or Palanca Awards, which was founded by the heirs of the former Chinese immigrant industrialist, philanthropist, patron of local Chinese language education and president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines -war Carlos Palanca (Chinese name: Tan Guin Lay)

These are just a few examples of philanthropy in the Filipino Chinese community, however, there are many more, even among small and medium family businesses, the majority of whom have preferred to donate to under-the-radar charities. or discreetly.

Philanthropist Lucio Tan is President Emeritus of the FFCCCII, while the late business icons George Ty, Henry Sy and Gokongwei were supporters and also Honorary Advisors of the FFCCCII.

Anna-Marie Harling wrote in the British newspaper “The Guardian” in 2017 that Chinese philanthropy has a long tradition. South Korean Dr. Heesu Jang has also written that Asia has a long tradition of giving, one example being the clan-based charity in China, inspired by Confucianism, which dates back a thousand years. The philosophical basis of the Chinese tradition of philanthropy includes the humanistic moral teachings of Confucianism on benevolence.

Centuries before the Spanish colonizers discovered the Philippines, the first Chinese traders, craftsmen and migrants were already coming harmoniously to our archipelago to engage in internal and external trade (including the famous trans-Pacific galleon trade), pioneer industries and businesses. farming, settling to raise families and undertake social and civic charities.

In all cities and islands, Chinese entrepreneurs have settled for generations in local communities and contributed to philanthropy such as disaster relief, donations to churches and schools, even large donations to the Philippine Revolution. of the 19th century. These Chinese traders and craftsmen also did not forget their ancestral villages in southeastern China, usually in Fujian province and some also in Guangdong province, and they also made donations to social efforts. -civics there, especially in education, temples, village roads or bridges, other causes.

South Korean scholar Dr. Heesu Jang has written that Confucianism brought traditional Chinese culture enriched into basic concepts of community care, from caring for the elderly to educating the young. This welfare provision predates any formal institutionalization of welfare and civil society…In ancient times, Chinese citizens stepped forward to fill this void in social needs, creating the first private form the country’s systematic charity: family kinship organizations.

In his study of ethnic Chinese philanthropy in Southeast Asia, Professor Thomas Menkhoff wrote that traditionally philanthropic virtues such as civic improvement, benevolence, charity, compassion or generosity have always been important in Chinese culture, as evidenced by the teachings of Confucianism, Buddhism and folk religion. The two philosophers Confucius and Mencius considered philanthropy as “the distinguishing characteristic of man, as one of the fundamental constituents of nobility and superiority of character”.


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