Ethnic Groups of the Philippines

Tsinoy, Fujianese

The descendants of mainland and island Chinese who migrated to the Philippines are collectively called Tsinoys, Chinoys, or Chinese Filipinos. However, they can be divided into three groups by the geographic location and language of their origin: Fujianese, Cantonese, and Mandarin. There are Tsinoy communities in practically all parts of the archipelago.

About 98.5% of all unmixed Chinese in the Philippines come from Fujian province. Since most of them speak Fujianese, the traditional migrant network can be a very useful social capital for them.

Chinese had resided in what was to become the Philippines long before the Spanish colonizers arrived. However, there are no records of the exact period of their arrival. The Chinese make up 2-4% of the country’s population, and most of them are either Fujianese or Cantonese dialect groups. Field research on the tombstones in Chinese cemeteries nationwide reveals that Fujianese comprise nearly 89%; Cantonese, 10%; and others, 1%.

Southern Fujian is home to three main Min Nan dialects: Quanzhou, Xiamen, and Zhangzhou. Currently, most Fujianese in the Philippines speak the Quanzhou and Zhangzhou dialects. Most of those who live in Metro Manila speak Quanzhou, while those in southern Philippines speak the Xiamen dialect.

Most Fujianese Filipinos are urban dwellers, and about 60% live in Metro Manila. Others live in other large cities such as Cebu, Davao, and Baguio. Many Fujianese Filipinos are engaged in business, ranging from small retail shops to international corporations; several are at the helm of the prominent businesses in the Philippines. Many important Chinese associations are dominated by the Fujianese Filipinos due to their large population.

The younger generations of Fujianese Filipinos (born after the 1990s) prefer to communicate in Tagalog and English, although they still identify themselves as Chinese.