The esteemed Bahay Tsinoy is a well-known museum in Manila which is dedicated to the culture and heritage of the citizens of the Philippines who are of Chinese descent. Situated within the district of Intramuros this popular institution documents the historical legacy, heritage and contributions of these Chinese immigrants within the culture and history of the Philippines.

This attractive museum which opened to the public in 1999 is intended to foster patriotic feelings amongst the people of the Philippines and to promote understanding and cultural harmony between the Filipino and Chinese communities. The funds for the building and land of the museum were raised through liberal donations provided by all sectors of the local community, from the very wealthy to those of moderate means.

The beautifully laid out museum is subdivided into a number of interesting sections. In the ‘Early Contacts’ section the visitor will learn about the ancient contacts between the Chinese mainland and the local islands. According to records trade existed between these two areas and the exhibits depict this trade in commodities like silk, farm implements, mother of pearl and ornaments.

After the Spaniards colonised the islands many Chinese arrived to work in this flourishing economy. These immigrants were separated into a quarter called ‘the Parian’ where they were compelled to live and work, as depicted in this section of the museum. The gallery ‘Colonial Culture’ further details life in these early times.

Meanwhile another section of the museum depicts the manner in which the Chinese community asserted itself, forming representative organisations and standing up for its rights. Other galleries describe how the Chinese contributed to the struggle for freedom and the mode of life in the 19th century.

Another section provides information regarding leaders of Chinese descent, while the ‘Martyrs’ Hall’ provides details about those who died fighting the Japanese occupation during World War II. Additionally you will see interesting collections of ceramics and rare shells found in the Philippines. By visiting this groundbreaking museum you will be able to gain an understanding about the contributions made by local citizens of Chinese descent.

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Uditha Dharmawardhane is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Roland Lefevre. He specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe.