10 reasons why Chinoys and even non-Chinoys should visit Bahay Tsinoy

By Stanley Ong See 21 August, 2017

Located at the corner of Anda and Cabildo Streets in Intramuros, Manila is one of the most unique cultural center-cum-museum you will ever find anywhere: Bahay Tsinoy. An audio-visual treat that combines wax figures, Chinese artifacts unearthed in the Philippines, and literary replicas that tell the story of the Chinese and their way of life from the pre-Spanish era through modern times.

I actually only heard about Bahay Tsinoy through my ChinoyTV Online colleagues a few months back and only found the time to visit last weekend. Here are some interesting things I came across when I dropped by:

P100 admission fee with air-conditioning to boot
Housed inside the Kaisa (pronounced as ka-isa, not kay-sa) Angelo King Heritage Center, Bahay Tsinoy: Museum of the Chinese in Philippine Life, is the museum component of the complex that also includes the Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran, Inc., Kaisa-Chinben See Memorial Library, Kaisa Research Center and Data Bank, Awat Keng Auditorium, Benito Cu-Uy-Gam Hall, and Pao Shih Tian and Teh Siu Yong Limpe Seminar Rooms.

Price of admission is only Php100 for adults and Php60 for students.

Open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 1PM to 5PM, there’s a Php100 entrance fee for adults and Php60 for students. The four-story building, including most of the galleries, is well-maintained and air-conditioned; making it an ideal venue to spend a hot or rainy Metro Manila afternoon.

No official guided tours but has conveniently partitioned sections
The first area in the museum is dedicated to the ties and commonalities between China and the Philippines before the Spanish-era. “Early Contacts: Shared Beginnings” describes how the links using land bridges during the Ice Age and sea travel between the Sung (10th century) and Ming (15th century) dynasties helped establish diplomatic and trade relations between the two Asian nations.

Aside from a large-replica of a Chinese junk or trade boat, there are several coins from various dynasties, a 400-plus years-old Selden Map of China, and books dating back to the 10th century that mentions the Philippines or parts of the country.

The Parian/Punta del Parian
The next section deals with the lives of Chinese and Tsinoys during the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines. Together with the locals, the Chinese became the backbone of the Spanish colonial economy, facilitating trade and providing services involving food, goldsmith, construction, and manufacturing.

Punta del Parian, a gate located at the intersection of Real and Muralla Streets, was named after the Parian de Arroceros, the area outside Intramuros where the Chinese lived. The gate still exists today and is opened from 9AM to 5PM.

Together with the locals, the Chinoys formed the backbone of the Spanish colonial economy.
Chinese and Filipino folk artistry are evident in the facade of the San Agustin Church. Two pairs of stone lions guard the entrance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mixed influences of religion, literature
A rather weird portion of Bahay Tsinoy deals with the mixed worship of Catholicism and Buddhism by the Chinese mestizos. Burning incense and lightning candles before the image of the Blessed Virgin made to look like a female buddhist deity is totally different from most Chinoy houses today where the today religions co-exist separately.

Literature and books, through printing, was one of the most significant contributions of the Chinese. The cover and pages of Doctrina Christiana, one of first three books printed using wooden blocks by Keng Yong of Binondo, is prominently displayed.

One of the first three books printed locally was the Doctrina Christiana.

Model of two-tiered homes (bahay na bato)
Like a lot of modern business-minded Chinoys, the houses of Chinese mestizos centuries ago consist of a wholesale or retail (sari-sari store in rural areas) shop at the ground floor and a sala, sleeping quarters, and kitchen at the upper floor. Aside from the impressive two-floor replica of the bahay na bato, a wax figure of a Chinoy trader calculating his sales using an abacus eerily looks too real for comfort.

The rise of the Chinese community 
The end of the 19th century saw the establishment of institutions like the Anglo-Chinese School (today’s Tiong Se Academy, 中西學院) in 1899 to formally educate the Chinese, the Chinese Hospital (now Chinese General Hospital) and Chinese Cemetery in La Loma, Chinese Associations (the Yu Family Association being the oldest one), and the Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, but who’s Jose Ignacio Paua?
The Chinese lineage of the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, and the first President of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo are prominently discussed in the “In Defense of Freedom” section, as well as the financiers of the Philippine revolution like Roman T. Ongpin, Mario Limjap, Telesforo Chuidian, and Luis R. Yangco, but who is Jose Ignacio Paua?

General Paua, also known as Hou A-p’ao, was the only pure blooded Chinese general who fought against the Spaniards during the late 19th century, was a signatory to the Pack of Biak-na-Bato, and even raised a large amount of money for the revolutionaries in the struggle against the American colonizers.

The national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, is a fifth generation Chinoy.

Leaders with Chinese descent, Tsinoys in nation building, 19th century photographs
The second floor contains portraits and descriptions of prominent Chinese-Filipinos who became leaders and nation-builders. Jaime Cardinal Sin, former President Corazon  C. Aquino, former Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee, Jesse M. Robredo, National Artist for Visual Arts Ang Kiukok, Betty Go-Belmonte, and singer Jose Mari Chan are just some of the personalities featured in the contemporary Chinese-Filipino section.

19th century photographs of Binondo, Escolta, and the main commercial thoroughfare of Rosario (now Quintin Paredes Street) crowd the walls of some of the corridors of the second floor. Philanthropic efforts and projects of modern Chinoys in nation building are immortalized through words and images at the fourth floor of Bahay Tsinoy. A multi-language hologram presentation chronicling the evolution of Chinoys from immigrants to modern-day Chinese-Filipinos can also be viewed in this area.

The fourth floor houses word and images depicting Chinoys' involvement in nation building.

Chinese influence in the lives of Filipinos
From kinship terms like ‘ate’ and ‘kuya’, agricultural tools, to the variations of pancit (pian sit or 便食) and other original Chinese food and dishes, there is no denying the amount of influence that Chinoys have on the Filipinos. But at the same time, Chinoys, being the minority and needing to assimilate themselves, also picked up Filipino culture and way of life like practicing Roman Catholicism, saying ‘po’ and ‘opo’, kissing the hand or ‘mano’, and so much more.

Free entrance
As posted on its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/bahaytsinoy) and printed on a paper at the entry/exit gates, admission to Bahay Tsinoy is free on August 27, 2017, from 9AM to 5PM in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran, Inc.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of Kaisa Para sa Kaularan, Inc., admission is free on August 27, 2017, from 9AM to 5PM.

Nowhere on Earth can we visit this one-of-a-kind museum dedicated to documenting, preserving, and presenting the rich and wonderful history of the Chinese and Chinoys in the Philippines. I just wished that some of the details and information (i.e. year of death), as well as images get updated from time to time. The artifacts and galleries are cool but even the National Museum of the Philippines updates its contents periodically.

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Last modified on Monday, 21 August 2017 14:02

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