Famous Chinoys NOT in the Fields of Business, Medicine, or Law

Image from Interaksyon

The notion that children must be steered towards careers in business, medicine, and law isn’t uncommon among Chinese-Filipino families. Those fields, the “traditional” fields, supposedly give one more financial security and opportunities. 

Is the standard for success in life really just about making the most money, however? Certainly, being financially-independent is very crucial. But is it everything?

However, a lot of Chinoys have also chosen different paths, and some have become known in their areas. Here are some of them: 


1) Mel Tiangco 

Image from GMA Network

Mel Tiangco serves as one of the most important and notable anchors for GMA Network. She is perhaps most notable for her role as anchor in 24 Oras, where she has worked alongside equally-recognizable Mike Enriquez. 

Fun fact: before GMA Network, Tiangco worked in ABS-CBN as anchor of TV Patrol from 1987 to 1995. 


2) Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

Image from CBCP News

Although not a “career” per se, Cdl. Tagle’s role as a prelate of the Catholic Church is definitely a road not often taken. From being Bishop of the Diocese of Imus, to Archbishop of Manila, and now Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in the Vatican, Cdl. Tagle has with him a diverse set of experiences. 

Fun fact: His middle name makes him more recognizable as a Chinoy: Gokim


3) Alfredo Lim†

Alfredo Lim. Photo: Alfredo Lim Official Facebook Page.

Former Mayor of Manila, Alfredo Lim originally served first as a policeman. Lim finished a master’s degree in national security administration, after which he went for a Doctorate of Philosophy in criminology. Lim’s political career spans several areas: not only did he serve three terms as Mayor of Manila, but he was also a senator, a Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, and a Director of the National Bureau of Investigation. 

Fun fact: In his younger school years, Lim attended four different high schools. 


4) Jesse Robredo†

Image from Thinking Pinoy

Former Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, Robredo drew his Chinese ancestry from his paternal grandfather. Before that position, he first served as Mayor of Naga City at the young age of 29, a position which he held from 1988-1998 and again from 2001-2010. In 2012, Robredo passed away after the plane he was aboard suffered engine failure and crashed. 

Fun fact: Robredo had a Minnan Chinese name: Lim Pieng Ti


5) Ye Fei (Sixto Mercado Tiongco)†

Image: Public Domain

Born to a Chinese father and Filipino mother, Ye Fei was Commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy in the People’s Republic of China. Though Philippine-born, his father brought him to China for schooling in 1919 at the age of four. There, he grew up and eventually joined the Chinese Communist Party. 

Fun fact: After he left the Philippines, he didn’t return until 70 years later. In that visit, he had reunions with his siblings, who were born after he left. 


6) James Yap

Left: James Yap. Photo courtesy of James Yap.

A professional basketball player, James Yap showed potential in sports from a very young age. In the late 1990s, he became one of the most promising in basketball in the Iloilo/Negros region, after which, in college, he played under the University of the East. Yap joined the Philippine Basketball Association in 2004 in a career that has had its ups and downs. 

Fun fact: Yap is 6 feet and 3 inches tall. 


7) Gretchen Ho 

Image: Gretchen Ho

Known best for her dynamic volleyball skills, Ho graduated high school from the Immaculate Conception Academy in San Juan City and college from the Ateneo de Manila University, playing for the Ateneo Lady Eagles. In this time of pandemic, Ho started a campaign named Donate a Bike, Save a Job. The campaign has also helped typhoon victims from Naga and Cagayan. 


As society continues to lean towards inclusion career-wise, with young Chinoys frequenting a more diverse set of fields in college, their presence in wider Philippine society will be more felt.


The author of this article: 

An accomplished young Chinese Filipino writer and media personality, Aaron S. Medina is associated with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program, the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, and CHiNOY TV. He has a passion for truth, justice, and Pokémon, too! Follow him on Facebook:

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