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yukhetaiYu Khe Thai 楊啟泰

Yu Khe Thai was one of the most respected leaders in the ethnic Chinese community. He led the way for the growth of his family’s company, Yutivo and Sons. The respect he commanded in the community was and is virtually unmatched even up to this day.

Yu Khe Thai was not only a respected Chinese community leader, he was a staunch defender and leader of the anti-Japanese movement, and an active supporter of Chinese education in the Philippines.

Yu was born in Bihu, Longxi, Fujian (碧湖,龍溪,福建) in 1896 of a wealthy businessman father, Yu Tiong Yee (楊忠懿), the fourth son of Yu Ti Vo (楊知母).

He opened Yutivo Hardware as a single proprietorship hardware store in 1884 but later expanded and was incorporated into Yutivo and Sons Hardware in 1917, involved in hardware trading, import-export and merchandising.

Yu was very active in Chinese community organizations. Since its foundation in 1931, he was president of the Philippine Chinese Educational Association, a position he held for 40 years. The association was crucial in supporting high quality Chinese-language education in the Philippines.

When Japan invaded China, he and fellow Chinese mobilized support for China and he became the vice chairman of the Federation of Overseas Chinese National Salvation Association (華僑救國聯合會) and chairman of the Philippine-Chinese Anti Japanese Society (菲律宾华侨援助抗敌委员会), popularly known as the Kong Tiak Hue (抗敵會). Yu was likewise one of the leaders of the China National Salvation Committee, called Kiu Kok Sia (救國社) for short, and the Philippine chapter of the boycott Japanese goods movement.

Being at the helm of key organizations in the Chinese community, Yu played an active and leading role in the political, social, cultural, educational and charitable work of the Chinese community.

Throughout the presidency of the late Ferdinand Marcos, Yu Khe Thai was presidential consultant on national policy. A staunch anti-Communist leader who headed many of the Kuomintang-led organizations in the Philippines, Yu was arguably one of the most respected leaders and protectors of the Chinese community who worked for the welfare of the Chinese community continuously for close to 40 years. At the same time, he was also a key figure in promoting unity, friendship and mutual understanding between the Chinese community and the mainstream Philippine society.