A Brief History of the Chinese in the Philippine

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A Brief History of the Chinese in the Philippines

According to The History of the Sung Dynasty or Sung Shi, published in 1343-1374, China already had trade relations with the people in the Philippines as early as the tenth century (AD 982) (Miclat, 2000). By the time of the Sung Dynasty (860-1127), Chinese colonies were already founded in some towns by the coast. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) , colonies were already found in the hinterlands (Agoncillo, 1990).

When the Spanish arrived in Manila in 1571 the resident population of Chinese in the area was around one hundred and fifty. Many of them were traders in Chinese merchant ships. The Chinese said they were seng-li (or xang lai), which meant “we are traders” (Gardner). The Spanish eventually called them Sangley, which is derived from the Hokkien word seng-di or seng-li meaning “business” (Mempin, 2009).

The Chinese established themselves near Spanish communities, taking on important roles as food providers, retail traders and artisans. The Spanish soon became dependent on the Chinese economically; after all, they provided many of the goods shipped to Europe through Mexico by the Manila galleon trade . However, because of cultural differences, there were also mutual feelings of distrust. There came a time when the population of Chinese outnumbered the Spanish, who were afraid that they would revolt (Wickberg, 1964).

Because of this, in 1582, the Spanish required the Chinese to live in a walled compound called the Parian, which soon became the commercial center of the area (Gardner). By the sixteenth century, there was a royal order for all Chinese to be expelled from the Philippines and the Parian , evacuated. However, Governor Dasmariñas knew that the City of Manila, which was the largest Spanish settlement, were dependent on the

Chinese for economic services. Governor Dasmariñas bought some land across the river from the walled city of Intramuros and turned it over to a...
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