Historical friendship between Chinese and Filipinos
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - September 8, 2019 - 12:00am

It is only now in my old age that I am discovering the history of Chinese-Filipino friendship. Thanks to TULAY, a magazine which publishes stories of the historical friendship with the peoples of our two countries. These experiences were shared with onslaught of colonialism in our region.

It publishes articles that should be read by a wider audience. By chance the copy I got had the cover story of Filipinos, Chinese: Fellow Patriots in the Philippine Revolution.

Other colonized countries in our region looked up to us for defying Spanish rule and American aggression. The Philippines was bought and sold like carcass between the Spaniards and the Americans without Filipino participation.

I have drawn excerpts from the article for a glimpse of the cooperation between Filipino and Chinese revolutionaries against Western colonial powers.

“China’s reformists were inspired by Filipino revolutionaries who fought not one, but two, Western powers. Contacts were made between China’s leader of its revolution Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his Filipino counterpart Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, promising mutual aid and support.”

“Filipino compatriots of Chinese descent joined hands with Filipinos supplying manpower, cash and goods to sustain Aguinaldo’s army in defying Spanish rule and American aggression.”

This Tulay article by Teresita Ang See is a summary of a longer paper, “Shared History, Shared Destiny: The ethnic Chinese, China revolutionists and the Philippine revolution.”

Here are some excerpts from the article.

“Two peoples of this region Filipinos and Chinese were among the earliest in Asia to aspire for freedom: while Philippine revolutionists struggled to unshackle our nation from colonial rule in the late 19th century, the Chinese likewise struggled to unshackle theirs from the ravages of imperial dynastic rule during the same period.”

“Vignettes from Philippine and Chinese sources highlight this period of shared historical ties that bound two peoples in their struggles for the common cause of freedom from colonial and imperial rule.

The fervor of the reform movements of Liang Qi Chao and Kang Yu Wei, followed by the frenzy of the revolution led by Sun Yat-sen had significant impact, especially on Southeast Asia, including the Philippines. The ideals of independence from colonial rule were planted by reformists and revolutionists and gained support from the Chinese overseas, wherever they were.

Financial and logistical support for Sun Yat-sen and the revolution gathered momentum, especially in Southeast Asia. On the other hand, Chinese revolutionists looked up to and were inspired by the Filipino revolutionists whom they lauded for daring to fight two white foreign colonialists.

The list of Chinese who directly participated in the Philippine revolution more than 100 years ago and stood shoulder to shoulder with other revolutionists included more than just Gen. Jose Ignacio Paua, the only pure-blooded Chinese general in Aguinaldo’s army.

In General Jose Paua’s biography, an article written by Shi Gong which appeared under the biographies section of Singapore Nan-An Village Associations’ 1977 journal, mentioned there were 3,000 Chinese revolutionists recruited and led by Paua. Aguinaldo himself said the Chinese who supported the Philippine revolution were many and those who directly joined the ranks of soldiers were also numerous. Filipino revolutionists considered the Chinese as allies in the common fight for freedom.

One of the 13 martyrs of Cavite was Francisco Osorio, son of a prominent Chinese merchant. Historian Rafael Guerrero noted: “Calmly, Chino Osorio did not weep even up to his execution.”

Philippine Revolutionary Records (PRR) mentioned the list of Filipino revolutionists implicated or captured by the Spaniards, which includes 160 names of Binondo residents (like Gregorio Sy Quia, father-in-law of the late President Elpidio Quirino); the organization of a regiment in Binondo; ammunitions discovered in the Binondo cemetery; police discovered in inconspicuous and inaccessible back rooms of small native and Chinese shops bolos being made and insurgent uniforms manufactured.

Moreover, in the list of those who gave monthly contributions to the revolutionary coffers were unmistakable Chinese names: Tan-Cao, Tao-Chien, Loa Tico, Tan Dianco, Loa-Siengco, Yu-Dongco, Lao-Chichon. Other Chinese-sounding names in the list were Angguico, Guison, Guason, Quionson, who may be pure Chinese or at the very least, mestizos. Material resources: Supplying materials needed by the revolutionists appeared to be the more prevalent form of assistance given by the Chinese.

 The book Republic or Empire: American Resistance to the Philippines Warby Daniel Schirmer, revealed that William McKinley’s final decision to colonize the Philippines was actually motivated by America’s ambition to conquer China, to use the Philippines as jumping board to penetrate the great supermarket that is China, invade its territory, and eventually conquer China.

 This illustrates even more clearly how closely intertwined are the destinies of the Philippines and China. The Philippines and China shared common fates, fought common enemies, and aspired for common development goals and were in fact “tied together in one umbilical cord,” to use a Filipino expression.

In June 1898, Philippine representative to Japan Mariano Ponce met Sun in Yokohama and asked him to help the Philippine revolutionists acquire military arms. Sun agreed and helped procure two shipments of arms.

But the first shipment in the vessel Nonubiki Maru hit reefs off Zhejiang province and sank in July 1899. The second procurement, in January 1900, likewise failed: the interventions by the governments of Japan and the US prevented the shipment from leaving Japan. Meanwhile, in an agreement with Ponce, Sun would send members of his revolutionary party to the Philippines to help fight against the American invading army.”

The Chinese reformist Liang was among the first to translate Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios” to Chinese.

The author earnestly exhorted the Chinese people to use the Filipinos as a model in struggling for independence and freedom. The Chinese revolutionists expressed a common admiration for the Filipinos’ resilience and strong spirit to fight.

For four centuries, the Spaniards, British, Americans, Japanese unfurled imperialist ambitions to conquer our country. The Chinese, who came to Philippine shores looking only for a chance to better their lives, suffered as the Filipinos suffered, under colonial rule.

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