Ties that bind: The Filipino-Chinese culture

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According to Meah Ang See, managing director of the Bahay Tsinoy Museum, trade relations between the Philippines and China began in the 10th century.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — As the country prepares to celebrate the Chinese New Year on Monday (February 8), the Filipino-Chinese culture is again brought into the spotlight.

On Friday (February 5), CNN Philippines anchor Mitzi Borromeo sat down with Eng Bee Tin's Jerrick Chua and Ambassador Francis Chua, founding chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to talk about the Filipino-Chinese culture, and to learn of how deep the ties that bind us go.

According to Meah Ang See, managing director of the Bahay Tsinoy Museum, trade relations between the Philippines and China began in the 10th century.

Though not as sophisticated as the system that exists today, both countries traded goods between each other.

That relationship blossomed when Chinese traders moved to the country and established homes, businesses, and families here.

Chua, who manages Eng Bee Tin, one of the more popular food shops in the country, said Binondo – where Chinatown is located – is home.

"Binondo is home to me. I grew up here; my whole family grew up here."

Chua's great grandfather, Chua Chiu Hong, established Eng Bee Tin in Ongpin, Manila.

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He said, ube hopia, one of Eng Bee Tin's signature products, has become so popular that a similar version was being sold in China.

Ambassador Chua has experiences similar to Jerrick Chua.

He, too, was born to a family who had settled in the country after leaving China.

It was his grandfather who migrated and established a business in the country, and it was from his family that Chua learned.

He said, "I grew up in Nueva Ecija. My father had a store there."

He was encouraged to learn the trade by his family.

Since the school he went to was near his father's store, he would go there once classes were over and help out.

It was his time at his father's store where Chua learned the difference between selling and service.

He said, "Selling is a one-time thing. But when you give a service to a client, that's the business you are in."

The relationship between Filipinos and Chinese has always been good, according to See.

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She said, "Before the Spanish came, trade relations were very good. There was an exchange of culture, there was an exchange of ideas, there was an exchange between the traders and the natives."

She added, "The Chinese community, though, in the Philippines owes so much to the Filipinos themselves.

Because the community would never have survived; it would never have succeeded if the host country did not let it."

See explained, during the Spanish period, the successes of the Chinese were minimal because there was constant oppression.

In modern times, she said, the successes of the Filipino-Chinese do not go to China.

She said, "Because we are not China Chinese, we are Filipinos. So all the successes of these Chinese businessmen come back to the Philippines."

All of this has happened because the country has supported them and allowed them to succeed, See said.