Bahay Tsinoy (A Museum of the Chinese in Philippine Life)
Museum Hours: Tuesday to Sunday
Entrance Fees: P100 for Adults
P60 for Children/Students
Location: Kaisa-Angelo King Heritage Center
Anda Corner Cabildo Street
Telephone Nos: 527-6083; 526-6796
Museum Highlights: 1) Early Contacts; 2) The Parian; 3) Colonial Culture: Shared Hands; 4) Emergence of the Chinese Community; 5) In Defense of Freedom; 6) Sari-Sari Store and Tool Shed; 7) Mestizo House-Sala; 8) Meztizo House-Bedroom and Kitchen; 9) National Leaders of Chinese Descent; 10) Gallery of Rare Print and Photographs; 10) Martyrs Hall; 12) Porcelain Collection; 13) Tsinoys in Nation Building; and 14) Rare Philippine Shell Collection.
Just a short visit to “Bahay Tsinoy” can change your perspective about life. It teaches a lot about our Chinese brothers and what we can and should learn from them. The “Tsinoys” or those of combined Filipino and Chinese blood demonstrated the value of being industrious and thrifty. The exhibit showcased how from humble beginnings, the Chinese have risen to become the magnates and billionaires they are today.
As I walk along Bahay Tsinoy, I remembered the following heated exchange between Ibarra and the grave-digger -
“Ibarra drew his hand across his forehead. ‘But at least you can tell us where the grave is. You must remember that.’
The grave-digger smiled as he answered quietly, ‘But the corpse is no longer there.’
‘What’s that you’re saying?’
‘Yes,’ continued the grave-digger in a half-jesting tone. ‘I buried a woman in that place a week ago.’
‘Are you crazy?’ cried the servant. ‘It hasn’t been a year since we buried him.’
‘That’s very true, but a good many months ago I dug the body up. The fat curate ordered me to do so and to take it to the cemetery of the Chinamen. But as it was heavy and there was rain that night—‘
He was stopped by the threatening attitude of Ibarra, who had caught him by the arm and was shaking him. ‘Did you do that?’ demanded the youth in an indescribable tone.
‘Don’t be angry, sir,’ stammered the pale and trembling grave-digger. ‘I didn’t bury him among the Chinamen. Better be drowned than lie among Chinamen, I said to myself, so I threw the body into the lake.” (Chapter XIII “Signs of Storm”, The Social Cancer by Charles Derbyshire, Manila Philippine Education Company New York: World Book Company 1912)
Can you imagine that statement?! – “Better be drowned than lie among Chinamen”. This shows that during Spanish times, we look down on the Chinese. Filipinos and Spaniards thought that they are superior to them. We thought low about hard work. In the exhibit, I saw how our Chinese brothers valued hard work.
The rise of our Chinese brothers from persecution, harassment and large scale massacres is epic. Despite all these difficult situations, the Chinese indeed “left their impact and influences on all aspects of Philippine Culture.”
Today we can see those Chinese influences in our daily lives. We should learn from the Tsinoys and one way is to visit the Kaisa Heritage Center in Intramuros, Manila.