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Guess who came to break ground for Rizal shrine
Source: Inquirer
Author: Wilson Y. Lee-Flores
Date: 2000-06-25
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)

came from.

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

Asian taipans.

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

Siong-Que Village.

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

Filipino hero.

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


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