|Guess who came
to break ground for
|Author: Wilson Y. Lee-Flores
JINJIANG CITY, Fujian--In the afternoon of May 19
this year, crowds of civilians in south China
witnessed an escorted convoy of about 100
limousines, vehicles and tourist buses with top
Filipino government and business tycoons.
The convoy traveled one-and-a-half hours from
Xiamen City to the rural farming village of
Siong-Que (also called "Zhang Guo" in Mandarin) in
Jinjiang of Fujian province.
It was an unprecedented event for the mainly
agricultural region, where Filipino national hero Dr.
Jose Rizal's forebear Don Domingo Lamco (Chinese
name: Cua Yi-Lam) came from.
The only other event of similar significance that
happened in south Fujian was the 1988
homecoming of former President Corazon
Cojuangco Aquino to her ancestral Hong-Chiam
Village, where the "rags-to-riches" empire-builder
Jose Cojuangco (Chinese name: Co Guioc Juang)
Hometown of Asia's taipans
The rugged countryside of Fujian province is the
ancestral place of most Filipino entrepreneurs,
philanthropists and statesmen of Chinese heritage,
as well as majority of Taiwanese and Southeast
In fact, the "Taiwanese" dialect of Taiwan's richest
billionaires like Y.C. Wang of Formosa Plastics or
Stan Shih of Acer Computers is actually the
Hokkien or Min dialect of this region.
Malaysian taipan Robert Kuok Hock-Nien of the
Shangri-La Group, Indonesian Liem Sioe Liong of
Salim Group/First Pacific and many others also
trace their roots here.
Domingo Lamco was a "rags-to-riches"
entrepreneur from Fujian, whose hard work,
frugality and discipline established the prominent
Mercado-Rizal clan of Laguna.
Singaporean Chiew Chee-Phoong, senior editor of
Yazhou Zhoukan magazine in Hong Kong, once told
the INQUIRER: "Business people with ancestral
roots in Fujian are perhaps the world's greatest
Due to pressing domestic problems, President
Estrada had opted to cut short his China state
visit by one day and canceled his Shanghai
appointments, but he took the chartered Philippine
Airlines flight to Fujian province for his scheduled
visit to national hero Dr. Jose Rizal's ancestral
Press Secretary Ricardo "Dong" Puno Jr. told this
writer that President Estrada would never cancel
the visit to Rizal's ancestral village. The
appointments Mr. Estrada canceled were: a visit to
the Shanghai Stock Exchange (the biggest stock
exchange building in Asia), witnessing the signing
of three business agreements and a luncheon
reception to be hosted by George S.K. Ty of
Metrobank for the Shanghai business elite at the
Grand Hyatt Hotel.
For years, there were unverified reports of Rizal's
roots in south China. Last year, this writer and
businessman Manuel Chua of Tulay Foundation
verified Chinese records with the 1913 biography
by American historian Dr. Austin Craig and invited
five Rizal clan descendants to make a historic
homecoming to Siong-Que Village on April 2, 1999.
This year, prominent philanthropists and
entrepreneurs formed the Philippine Organizing
Committee for the Rizal Shrine Project in China,
and had unanimously elected Federation of
Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and
Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) president Lucio Tan and
industrialist Domingo Chua as the leaders.
The Filipino businessmen will help build a
one-hectare Rizal Park with a bronze monument,
but Jinjiang City reportedly hopes to spend more of
its own money to expand it to a 20-hectare park
complete with a new museum.
If completed, it may become the biggest Rizal
Shrine project overseas, enhancing Philippine
international prestige and honoring the greatest
John Gokongwei Jr. said: "It is a meaningful and
noble project." Young industrialist George Siy said:
"This project is a great honor for the Philippines
and will make Rizal a truly universal Asian hero."
When philanthropist Alfonso Yuchengco of Rizal
Commercial Banking Corp. served as ambassador to
Japan, he reportedly erected a bust memorial of
Rizal in Hibiya Park near the Imperial Hotel in
The national hero reportedly stayed in a hotel in
this area that used to stand on the property where
the park now stands.
Isamu Morimoto revealed an interesting anecdote
that Ambassador Yuchengco had changed the
direction of the Rizal bust three times due to the
ancient Chinese tradition of "feng-shui" or
Yuchengco had also visited his ancestral Ao-Khi
Village in Lamoa county of Fujian province. Energy
Secretary Mario Tiaoqui told this writer that he
was also a member of the Yu clan from Ao-Khi