The American Period

In the early 20th century, the American colonial government nationalized identities in the Philippines. The “mestizo” and “indio” ethnic classifications were subsumed under the classification “Filipino.” Under the new system, the “Chinese” became effectively an “alien” citizen. A mestizo whose father was classified as “Chinese” assumed the same classification of his father but could choose to become either “Chinese” or “Filipino” upon reaching the age of maturity. For pragmatic reasons, many chose to become “Filipino.” In time, Chinese mestizos became distanced from their “Chinese-ness” and more identified with their “Filipino-ness.”

Wealthy Chinese merchant wearing the attire of a civilian court official.

Wealthy Chinese merchant wearing the attire of a civilian court official.

The arrival of the Americans gave the Chinese more opportunities for growth. They distributed American goods all over the country, and procured cheap native products and raw materials for Western markets. In the darkest hour of the Japanese occupation, they fought side by side with Filipinos for freedom.

These economic adaptation and developments would blaze the trail for greater and more rapid growth during the American occupation.