A street named Ongpin in Manila has always fascinated me. The area is where there is a concentration of Chinese immigrants in the Philippines.
With them they brought their culture and traditions as well as their food and superstitions.
Ongpin Street is where to buy real high carat gold jewelries. It is the Hatton Garden of the Philippines.
Many Chinese have immigrated to the Philippines long before the Spaniards had colonised the Philippines for 333 years.
The Spanish rule ceased when pockets of uprising by the Filipinos from all over the country finally took place. One of the biggest and most famous militant organisation was the KKK (Kagalanggalan Kataastasan Katipunan ng mga anak ng Bayan, in English, Supreme and Venerable Society of the Children of the Nation), in short, Katipunan.
Apparently Ramon Ongpin, a prosperous Filipino Chinese businessman, bankrolled the Katipunan, making him a Filipino hero himself.
The plaque on the right side confirms this. He loved his country, the Philippines, that he was such as philanthropist; very altruistic. He was born in Binondo, Manila on 28 February 1847.
In 1883, he established a business which he called El ’82. It was the first shop to use fixed price in Colon Street way back in 1883. El ’82 (the ’82) shop was named after the year when cholera wiped out a great number of the Philippine population. As Feng Shui would have it, it was not about death but more of a rebirth of the country from the pernicious epidemic.
He was elected as the Lieutenant in charge of the white half-cast (mestizo/white children born of Spanish parents and Filipinos and Filipinos and Chinese).
When the Spaniards found out that he was helping the katipuneros (revolutionaries) by allowing the group to post their propaganda materials as well us funding their ammunitions, he was jailed in 1896.
He was truly a revolutionary at heart because he was jailed again by the Americans (the new colonisers who bought the Philippines from the Spanish overloads), when Ramon Ongpin continued helping the revolutionary groups.
Sacrista Street was renamed Ongpin Street as a way of honouring Ramon Ongpin for his patriotism and benevolence.
Another interesting fact about Ramon Ongpin is that he was the first one to wear the Barong Tagalog, national dress shirt of Filipino men (see above statue). I have to admire his taste. Barong Tagalog, the traditional creamy coloured ones, can make any man look presentable and yet I find that most Filipinos would rather wear a 2-piece suit with the ubiquitous ties, to social gatherings even during the hottest of weathers! Strange!
The Filipino Chinese Ongpin was more patriotic than the rest as far as wearing the ‘sariling atin’ constume. 🙁