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Narratives of Kinship and Ethnicity across the South China Sea The Manila Muslim Five-Surname Association  BY Oded Abt 

This paper explores family narratives, foundation myths and ritual traditions of Chinese lineages of Muslim descent, that formed a multi-surname association in Manila. It examines their reciprocal cultural exchange with kinsmen in their ancestral homelands in China and Taiwan. The lineage members studied in this research are not practicing Muslims but are rather descendants of Muslim sojourners who settled in Fujian Province between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries. Since the fifteenth century, many of the Muslims gradually assimilated into the local population, forming large descent groups and adopting the patterns of settlement and migration of the rest of the population. Commencing in the Qing, several sub-branches migrated to Taiwan and the Philippines. Today, members of the communities overseas share with their mainland kinsmen a common heritage of Muslim descent. Although they resemble their Han neighbors in almost every aspect, they preserve family genealogies, oral legends and distinct ritual practices aimed at commemorating their forefathers’ foreign origin, and the circumstances that led to their assimilation. The study combines historical research with fieldwork conducted in Manila, Taiwan and Fujian, demonstrating the dynamic character of identity formation and showing how, in various settings, descendants of Muslims construe differently their historical and cultural legacy. 

Kaisa: Bridging Families, Bridging Generations BY Eduardo Chan de la Cruz 

The ethnic Chinese comprises just over one percent of the Philippines’ population but a quarter of Filipinos has Chinese ancestry. The creation of Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran and subsequently, the Kaisa Heritage Center, seeks to promote integration and mutual understanding between ethnic Chinese and the mainstream Filipino society as well as raise awareness on Chinese influences in Philippine life and history.  There is great interest in Chinese genealogy among Chinese overseas communities but not as much in the Philippines, especially in rural communities. The Chinese outside urban centers assimilate more quickly and totally and have lost their Chinese ethnic identities in just a few generations. The decline of Chinese language schools, death and migration of the older generation break communication links between the younger generation and their relatives in China.  Through the inspiration of the work of Kaisa Heritage Center and the wide reach of its fortnightly digest, Tulay, a series of articles called the Relative Finder was born.  The articles use modern communications technology to retrace individual roots and bridge bonds of long separated Filipino and Chinese families while attempting to overcome persistent challenges posed by language barriers and the fast paced social changes that come with the rise of modern China.  The resulting stories throw light on multifaceted identities and bridge the gap of understanding between cultures and generations. 

The Syquia Family Biography BY Carla M. Pacis 

The Syquia Mansion, the Syquia family’s ancestral home in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, was declared a historical house by the National Historical Institute and converted into a museum in 2002.  With this new purpose, a little research had to be made on the family that eventually led to a deeper and more insightful research on the four generations of the Syquia family that span the Spanish and American colonial periods, the Japanese Occupation, Commonwealth and Republic. It begins with the arrival of the Chinaman Sy Qia to Manila, his marriage to Petronila Singson Encarnacion and continues to their oldest son Gregorio and his wife Estefania Angco; their only child Tomas and his wife Concepcion Jimenez and ends with their eight children – Alicia, Petronila, Cesar, Juan, Hector, Margarita, Oscar and Estefania. The story of this family is important as not only does it (1) narrate history through their eyes but will  (2) also trace the evolution of the family from sangley to Chinese mestizo to Filipino; it will (3) bring to light the stories of the women in the family and their contribution to the family status and influence; and lastly,  (4) include the story of the servant family that helped the family through several generations achieve and maintain their social status. This biography will also help the existing generations and those to come to understand their heritage and be mindful of the legacy embodied by the Syquia Mansion that has stood for almost two hundred years and has been left for them to lovingly care for.   

Post Author: tsinoyconf