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Meeting with a Filipino descendant of Confucius

I had lunch with a Filipino descendant of the revered Chinese philosopher Confucius last week. She was a friend and classmate of my sister so I could not relate the ordinariness of the occasion compared to what we were to talk about – she is a 75th descendant of Confucius and she is Filipina. The truth is I have heard about it in small talk in Manila parties but I thought it was a canard. A Filipino descended from Confucius?

I am a skeptic. It was unbelievable that it would finally be verified in conversation with Jing Consunji (that is her name and it is a derivation from Confucius.) She is a vegetarian and after we made our orders, I put the question pointblank to her : How did you know? Are you really descended from Confucius? She is a charming and intelligent girl and I am sure she saw through my skepticism. This is her story: She went to the hometown of Confucius, visited temple after temple where the Chinese keep records of births, deaths and marriages. She said she was lucky she had a good interpreter.

After much walking and talking, it was indeed established that she was a descendant of Confucius and it was written in stone. She herself could not believe it. After all, he is one of the greatest Chinese thinkers and regarded as a saint by the Chinese because of his profound teachings that shaped the Chinese mind. 

But the Confucius family were more than thinkers, they were also hard working and by the time Mao had assumed the leadership of China, the family was regarded as aristocrat, wealthy and ground breaking. Unbelievable because of the many things I read and learn about Philippine-Chinese relations, I did not know about this very important fact. 

When I hear bits and pieces about it I am an unbeliever. Hmm. How could that happen? So when my sister Laura called up to say that she was inviting Jing, I quickly dropped all my other appointments. Seeing is believing especially because it never entered my mind that our relations with the Chinese were that close. And so too with most Filipinos.

(There is a Confucius Institute at the Ateneo de Manila University. Cynthia Liang was with the Chinese directors who came with the Dr. Tan on how they could help with the rehabilitation of drug addicts. They would help Pagcor organize the health centers including the rehabilitation of addicts in their communities.

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Meeting Jing was timely with our politics in turmoil. We have a lot to learn from the many books (you can google them) written about him. I have yet to read one written by a Filipino Chinese although I have found out that my colleague Wilson Flores wrote a column on Confucius and his Filipino descendants. 

A reader’s review of a book on Confucius gives a summary of his teachings as it relates to government. 

“So often we're told he is the sage that teaches religious virtues, and so he did, but predominantly, he taught people how to be good statesmen, how government should work, and petitioned for years for the opportunity to implement his ideas of good government. He encouraged people to act like gentlemen (or ladies), that it was something that you are based on your actions, not your nobility of birth, but your nobility of character. I enjoyed it!”

Jing wanted to show me a documentary video she made of her great ancestor but it would not have been in time for the writing of this column. I will write of it at another time.

Confucius shared his wisdom about five centuries before Jesus taught his golden rule. Our government ideals owe it to Confucius as some things came from his ideas from thousands of years ago. Confucius bequeathed many sayings but like Jesus Christ they summed up the rule of life on the Golden Rule. “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.”

The Golden Rule (can be considered as a law of reciprocity in some religions). It is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. It is a maxim of altruism seen in many human religions and human cultures.

It was in the reign of Emperor Wu during the Han Dynasty that it was promoted to being the state ideology. Since then, it became the orthodox doctrine of Chinese society. And Confucius was glorified as a Saint instead of an ordinary man.

His teachings and philosophy have also deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese thought and life.

He emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of society among his many quotes these are my choices for my readers.

“Ask yourself constantly, What is the right thing to do?”

“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.”

“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.”

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

“To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.”

From Daniel K. Gardner’s Confucianism: A Very Short Introduction we get a succinct summary of his importance.

“First formulated in the sixth century BCE, the teachings of Confucius came to dominate Chinese society, politics, economics, and ethics. In this Very Short Gardner explores the major ideas of the Confucian tradition, showing their profound impact on life in China over the last 26 centuries.”

 

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