Dr. Jose Rizal, his Chinese immigrant forebear Domingo Lamco and other Filipino heroes with Chinese heritage

MANILA, Philippines — “Star For All Seasons” Vilma Santos expressed her desire to take on challenging movie roles similar to her impactful performances in films such as “Sister Stella L,” “Bata, Bata Pano Ka Ginawa” and “Dekada 70.”

During her interview with entertainment columnist and radio host Gorgy Rula on DZRH, Vilma revealed that she already has a lineup of films scheduled for this year.

“Modesty aside, may mga nakalatag naman sa akin ngayon. Pero, I’m still thinking. Nothing is final at this point in time. I’m looking forward to do at least kahit one movie,” she said. 

“Pero, I’m dreaming to do another ano siguro, like ‘Sist er Stella L’, ‘Bata, Bata Paano ka Ginawa’. I’m dreaming to do another ‘Dekada 70’, ‘yung mga ganu’n. Kahit isa lang.”

“Nami-miss ko uli yung mga ganu’ng klaseng pelikula.”

Vilma also shared some advice with Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Best Actor Cedric Juan.

“Ang importante, just love your career, and it will love you back. Every day is a learning process. Hindi ibig sabihin na nanalo na tayo ng award, we are the best. Hindi, eh. Every day is a learning process and you really to have to hone your craft. Hindi ka hihinto, kasi walang katapusan ‘yung matutunan natin,” Vilma said.

“One thing I can share with you, ang labanan diyan, longevity e. Hanggang kailan ka tatagal. Iyun ang pinakaimportante. That’s why you really have to hone your craft and make sure you love your career,” the seasoned actress added.

Vilma’s MMFF entry “When I Met You In Tokyo” and Cedric’s “GomBurZa” are still showing in cinemas nationwide. 

RELATED: Vilma Santos explains Parade of Stars absence, back to work after MMFF Best Actress win

MANILA, Philippines — Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, stands as an icon of intellectual brilliance, patriotism and resilience. Beyond his indelible mark on the nation’s history, Rizal’s Chinese immigrant ancestral roots unveil a remarkable tale of perseverance, economic success and cultural contributions. 

In particular, his Chinese immigrant ancestor, Domingo Lamco, represents a narrative of triumph over adversity that echoes th e broader contributions of the Chinese community to the Philippines.

Throughout Philippine history, Rizal and other Filipino heroes of Chinese heritage have contributed much to the Filipino nation’s quest for freedom, economic development and progress. 

Domingo Lamco, also known by his Chinese name Cua Yi-Lam (“Ke Yi-Nan” in Mandarin), was a trailblazer in the face of oppressive Spanish colonial conditions.

Born in the village of Zhangguo (“Siongque” in Hokkien) in Jinjiang County (now a city), Quanzhou City, Fujian province, Lamco navigated the tumultuous era of Spanish colonization. Segregated in the Parian ghetto along with other Chinese traders and artisans, Lamco overcame hardships and persecution.

Overcoming adversity, Lamco was a “rags-to-riches” entrepreneur and later moved to Laguna province to become the founder of the high-educated, esteemed Mercado family. “Mercado” was an adopted surname by Domingo Lamco for his children and descendants. The Mercado family would later play a significant role in shaping the economic, cultural, and social fabric of the Philippines.

Over the centuries, Filipino-Chinese individuals and organizations, such as the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), with 170 Filipino-Chinese chambers of commerce nationwide from Aparri to Tawi Tawi, have been at the forefront of philanthropy and diverse charities.

Their financial and logistical contributions to education, healthcare, arts and culture, religious faith and social welfare showcase a commitment to Philippine nation-building.

The legacy of Rizal and his Chinese forebear, Domingo Lamco, serves as a testament to the enduring positive impact of Chinese influence on the Philippines. This influence transcends beyond trade and economic modernization of Philippine life, encompassing rich cultural exchange, resilience in the face of adversity, and a shared commitment to nation-building.

Domingo Lamco’s journey from a segregated ghetto trader to the founder of a distinguished “ilustrado” Filipino family underscores the resilience and contributions of the Chinese community.

As the Philippines embraces its multicultural and democratic identity, the intertwined stories of Rizal and his Chinese immigrant forebear Domingo Lamco stand as a symbol of unity in cultural diversity, forging a path toward a shared and progressive Philippine future.

In the long protracted history of the Philippine struggle against colonial rule, woven with threads of courage, sacrifice and resilience, there emerges a distinct and often unfortunately overlooked pattern — the important presence and contributions by Filipino heroes of Chinese heritage.

These champions of freedom and progress came from an ethnic minority that has for many centuries lived and traded in the Philippines since the pre-colonial era. 

Here are only some of the many other Filipino heroes of Chinese heritage:

A first-generation Chinese immigrant from the county of Nan-an,Quanzhou City, Fujian province, he exemplified the spirit of self-determination and public service. His journey from blacksmith entrepreneur in Manila to military general of the Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonizers and then the American colonial invaders from the 1890s to 1900s mirrors the transformative power of dedication to a cause larger than oneself. 

General Paua not only forged armaments for the Filipino revolutionaries but also orchestrated successful fundraising campaigns among his fellow Hokkien-speaking ethnic Chinese traders, artisans and professionals in different regions. In doing so, he became a unique beacon, perhaps the only first-generation immigrant worldwide to rise to the rank of a military general in his adopted homeland.

A 19th-century entrepreneur and civic leader, the son of successful Chinese immigrant trader Simon Ongpin (Chinese name “Ong Yak Pin” from ChingMeng Village, Jinjiang, Quanzhou City, Fujian province), Roman Ongpin etched his name in history by sacrificing personal safety and social status to support the Philippine Revolution.

Enduring persecution and imprisonment, Ongpin became a symbol of resilience and commitment. His legacy lives on in the streets of Binondo, where Calle Sacristia has been renamed in his honor, and the Ong clan association has donated a monument that stands testament to his unwavering dedication.

His descendants also contributed to Philippine progress, the late billionaire tycoon Roberto Ongpin, who was the brilliant Trade and Industry Minister of President Ferdinand E. Marcos in the Martial Law era, and 1986 Edsa Revolution stalwart Jaime Ongpin, who became Finance Secretary of the revolutionary government of Chinese merstiza President Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco Aquino. 

The son of a Chinese immigrant turned self-made entrepreneur, General Vicente Lim embodied the pursuit of excellence and unswerving service to his country. As the first Filipino soldier to graduate from the prestigious West Point military academy, Lim rose to the rank of a military general. In the face of Japanese military invasion during World War II, he fought valiantly, enduring imprisonment and ultimately sacrificing his life. General Vicente Lim stands as a beacon of heroism and moral courage, his story has become an integral part of the Philippines’ struggle for freedom.

He was the first Filipino Roman Catholic saint, the son of a Chinese immigrant and baptized in historic Binondo Church. His life epitomized courage and faith, culminating in martyrdom for his beliefs. 

He was a legendary Bicol hero and fearless World War II martyr, who led the resistance against Japanese military occupation and was executed by the invaders. Vinzons ably led Filipino guerrillas who killed 3,000 Japanese soldiers in the Bicol region. The hero’s grandfather was anti-Qing Dynasty Chinese-language newspaper “Kong Li Po” editor Serafin Vinzons (Chinese name “Sia Hui Tam”) and his father was Gabino Vinzons (Chinese name “Sia Din Long”). 

Vinzons’ legacy lives on at the University of the Philippines (UP), where a building bears his name since he was the brilliant president of the UP Student Council and editor-in-chief of the college newspaper “Philippine Collegian”. He was also youngest delegate elected to the 1935 Philippine Constitutional Convention.

These are just some of the many Filipino heroes of Chinese heritage — along with countless nameless traders, artisans and other ordinary members of the Filipino Chinese community — who have contributed immeasurably to the economic modernization, cultural development and social progress of the Philippines.

As we honor the patriotism of Dr. Jose Rizal, let us also pay tribute to these remarkable heroes, acknowledging their pivotal role in shaping the destiny of a nation.

Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored press release.

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