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Get to know your Chinoy Politicians

With the remnants of the high-stakes national and local elections last May 9 still lingering among Filipinos, it is undeniable that the candidates most likely to win are those who have been present in the Filipino political arena for a long time already. Last names like ‘Aquino’, ‘Cojuangco’, ‘Quezon’ and ‘Lim’ have already imprinted in the minds of Filipinos.

These political families may be public figures who have long since been known by Filipinos, from their background and personality to their advocacies and programs. Nevertheless, here is a fun fact about these families that may not be popular information: they are Filipino citizens but have Chinese traces in their blood.

Go through this list and see for yourselves who among your favorite politicians are actually Filipino Chinese.

1. Sergio Osmeña

Not known to many, the fourth president of the Philippines, Sergio Osmeña is actually Filipino-Chinese. He comes from a well known Filipino-Chinese family in his hometown, Cebu City, where he started his political career as mayor. Later on, he ran for a seat in the senate during the 1960s and won, giving him the title of the country’s ‘First Senator with Chinese Descent’.

Osmeña’s mother, Juana Suico Osmeña, is a Chinese mestiza while his father, Pedro Lee Gotiaoco is a tycoon, philanthropist and a leader among the Filipino Chinese community in Cebu. Their clan is also related to the well-known Gokongwei family as John Gokongwei Jr. is the grandson of Osmena’s father, Pedro Gotiaoco.

2. Corazon Aquino

Who would have known that the first female president of the Philippines was actually of Chinese descent as well? Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco Aquino is the 11th president of the Philippines and is famously known as a prominent figure in the EDSA People Power Revolution which led to the ouster of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

Cory Cojuangco Aquino’s Chinese roots come from Hongjian Village in China. Her great grandfather, Co Yu Hwan, was a villager who went on a voyage across the South China Sea and arrived in the Philippines during Spanish rule. 

Upon settling in the country, Co Yu Hwan adopted the name Jose Cojuangco and started a new life and family. The Cojuangco clan have eventually become one of the most powerful families in the country today with influences in business and politics, to which Cory Aquino entered.

3. Joy Belmonte

Mayor Maria Josefina “Joy” Belmonte is again leading Quezon City as she has secured a second term as its mayor. She is the second female so far to be elected as mayor of the City of Stars, following former Mayor Adelina Rodriguez.

Mayor Joy Belmonte’s mother is Betty Go-Belmonte, whose name may be more known to all as an LRT station situated along Quezon City. More than that, Mayor Joy’s mother Betty Go-Belmonte is a distinguished journalist and is the founder of newspaper Philippine Star. Her journalistic expertise can be traced back to her father, Go Puan Seng who founded The Fukien Times, one of the biggest Filipino-Chinese newspapers in the 1920s. It is through them that Mayor Joy Belmonte’s Chinese roots can be traced from.

4. Bong Go

Bong Go surely makes the list as his last name immediately associates him with his Fil-Chi roots. He rose to prominence serving in President Duterte’s cabinet as Special Assistant to the President and Head of the Presidential Management Staff. Wherever the President was, Bong Go was also most likely to be seen, which highlights his close relationship with the President who is loved by many. 

Bong Go is the son of businessman Desiderio Go and Marichu Tesoro-Go. Their family is engaged in different kinds of businesses from construction supplies to printing services. Bong Go is currently serving as Senator of the country after winning the 2019 elections.

5. Sherwin Gatchalian

Those eyes of senator Sherwin Gatchalian unmistakably identifies him as a Filipino-Chinese. Senator Gatchalian started his political career as mayor of Valenzuela City and then eventually ran for and secured a seat in the Senate.

He is the son of industrialist William Gatchalian and Dee Hua Ting. Senator Gatchalian is no stranger to being called out for his Chinese lineage. During one of his interviews, he was cited as not being a “true Filipino” hence not deserving to have a position in the government.

Gatchalian answered this by saying that “Being Filipino is not about your blood. It’s about where your heart belongs” and this is certainly something that resonates with both politicians and ordinary Chinese Filipinos alike.

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