Kung Hei Fat Choy! Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Today, January 26, 2009, our Chinese brothers and sisters all around the world are celebrating the Chinese New Year or what is known in Mainland China as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival.
Here in General Santos City, a good number of Chinese Families open their homes to their friends starting on the eve of the New Year and wait for the clock to strike 12 before they set loose their fireworks into the sky. And that’s where their culinary feasts begin in their individual homes.
In my travels around Southeast Asia, I have noticed that it is only in the Philippines where the Chinese New Year is not declared as a public holiday considering the large ethno-Chinese population that we have. A major portion of Philippine business is dominated by 2nd and 3rd generation Chinese mestizos now and we once had a lady President, Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino who traces her roots in China. Even our national hero, Jose Rizal has Chinese blood.
In one way or the other, most of us have some traces of Chinese ethnicity and it is quite a shame that we don’t give the Chinese New Year its much deserved place in the country’s calendar of holidays as we should just like the other countries in Asia.
Anyway, here in South Cotabato, the pioneering Chinese of General Santos City arrived in her shores long before it became known as the Municipality of Buayan in the mid-1940s. Most of them set up diverse businesses in the area such as rice and corn trading, livestock, general merchandise, copra trading, hardware, construction, and realty, among others.
As a tribute to them and in celebration of the Chinese New Year, here is the earliest photo taken of the Pioneering Chinese Settlers in GenSan, most who came from Amoy, China, taken sixty years ago in 1949, when then Consul Mih of China visited this part of the Philippines known as Dadiangas, Buayan Municipality.
This picture was taken at the General Santos Park, along the coastline of the city, Silway District. The buildings on the left is where Rey Store is now while the buildings on the right are the ones behind Kimball compound. Consul Mih is the person with the mark X while the one with two X marks is trader Ang Lin Bee. CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO ENLARGE IT.
The rest of the Chinese settlers in the photo above are Go Sek Yu, brothers Rubi Ang (agri-business/realty) and Ang Ling Bee (owns Angkalian Building, among others), Yu Se Chong (Hardware & Sarangani Restaurant at the former ChowKing Pioneer area), Yu Se Peng (agri-business/realty), Tony Diya (Rice Mills), Jose Lao (agri-business), brothers Tan Pi and Rudy Go Huy (realty including the Veranda building, livestock and agri), and Pedro and Seraphin Lim of Lim Bros. Harddware.
The rest are Boo Che Lu (trading), Conrado Du (Rice & Corn trading), Jose Abawag (shipping/ manager of Compania Maritima), Tony Sun (general merchandise), Go Siong (copra), Lu Ten (agri trading), Go Tai Ching (Lucky 7 Hardware) and Jose “Agurang” Catolico, Sr. who was not Chinese but considered then as the “Godfather of the Chinese”.
To all these Chinese pioneers and the others who came right after them like the Chiongbians, the Teng Brothers (Kimball & TSP), Johnny Ang, the Yaphokuns, the Ceds, Fred Ang-Sanidad, Johnny Tan, etc., Bariles Republic offers this post as a salute for your contribution in making General Santos what it is now.
To sha. Shie shie.
Photo is courtesy of Sir Jong Balagtas Ramirez’ WHO IS WHO, DATABANK, Volume IV, 1995. Copies of Volume VIII, 2007 are now available.