Are You a Limahong Descendant? Part II

In Part 1 of this topic, we mentioned that the legend of Limahong hiding and begetting children in the Cordilleras is most likely just a legend. But how do we explain the “Chinese” features of some Igorots/iCordilleras? I think it’s because our ancestors really did come from mainland Asia as Arcibald wrote in our earlier post, .

According to the current prevailing theory, people from the Philippines came from the north and not from the south. So as Edwin writes in his post here, it would seem like the migration wave theory (i.e., the Philippines was populated by waves of Negritos, then Indonesians, then Malays) that we learned in school may not be true at all.

Anyways, going back to the “Chineseness” of some Igorot groups, did you know that Barangay Tabaao in Kapangan, Benguet has a pretty significant number of people of Chinese descent? How did this come about?

From the research of Anavic Bagamaspad (via China History Forum):

Bagamaspad wanted to know how the descendants of mixed Igorot and Cantonese marriages negotiate ethnic identities. The presence of descendants of Cantonese men married to native women, she points out, is one more unique characteristic of Chinese in Baguio and Benguet.

It can be recalled that in her earlier researches, she uncovered one uniqueness of Baguio Chinese having large concentrations of Cantonese origins rather than Fukienese which is the overwhelming origin (85-90%) of the Chinese in other areas of the Philippines.

The research site was BarangayTaba-ao in Kapangan, Benguet, where the number of mestizo Cantonese families is close to 10% of the total number of families there.

The research documents colorful, engaging narratives of how it all began. It was in Baguio that Taba-ao women and Cantonese men met. Driven by poverty and lack of work, both sought livelihood in the mining, commercial and tourist boom in Baguio during the American period.

The Cantonese men initially were part of the multinational labor force that constructed Kennon Road. Later on, they worked as carpenters, cooks, gardeners, bakers. Others were soon able to put up their own business as shoemakers, barbers, furniture-makers, tailors, launderers, butlers, photographers, and manufacturers of tufo, bean sprout, pop rice and even liquor, while others put up their own restaurants, hotels and bakeries, bazaars, variety stores, groceries, and gambling joints where the precursor of jueteng – pak kap pio- was first introduced.

Meanwhile, the women from Taba-ao were part of the influx into Baguio.They comprised the much needed additional local labor force of women and men from the other upland and lowland communities. They met their future husbands in the workplace, as the women served as waiters, gardeners, cabiteros and did odd jobs in households and business establishments.

Marriages were simply entered into “without contract or ceremony,” but were sealed with local ritual when the couple went home to Taba-ao. Some couples opted to reside there, some returned to Baguio, while in the case of some, the men either went back to Baguio or to China.

Interestingly, the research bears out the observation that it is their Chinese, rather than their Igorot, identity that the descendants of Cantonese-Ibaloy intermarriages, negotiate a lot.

According to Bagamaspad, they seem to be more secure and confident with their Igorot identities as a whole, tending to negotiate and renegotiate their Chinese identities along three
different levels.

On the personal level, they negotiate between love and acceptance vs. indifference and abandonment. On the social level, they share in a mestizo identity with others like them through associations and mutual help groups. On the cultural level, they learn Chinese, initially Cantonese, then Mandarin, occasionally visit Chinese temples, and learn about other Chinese cultural markers like Chinese food.

Most of all they engage in Chinese rituals and traditions in a project called “resinicization,” defined as “the process of reacquiring Chineseness or reclaiming Chinese identity.”

Intereseting, no? Too bad the China Forum didn’t republish the whole study hehe.

Source: China History Forum (scroll down).

6 thoughts on “Are You a Limahong Descendant? Part II”

  1. Yes , I agree with your research ,How about Japanese
    descendants? At present.they come and unexpectedly visit our backyards or “uma” in sleepy wee hours digging and measuring something,and you will just wake in the morning that your somebody has digged something
    in your doorstep.

  2. my typical error,”in you will just wake up in the morning that somebody has digged something in your doorstep”, I should say

  3. Kudos! Is there also a research on who are those first known original natives of Benguet? From where they’re from,how and why did they settle in the mountains. Salamat.

  4. My mother told me that her grandfather came from ifugao and her father who is also my grandfather mentioned to her that they have a chinese blood, I couldn’t believe it because what i know was that the inhabitants of this place are called igorot until it happened that read the story of limahong, by the way we grew up in mindanao. Our great grandfather was a skilled worker of bridge, the government sent him to provinces to build bridges. So i suspect our ancestor was one of the men of limahong or limahong..

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