The Chinese Entrepreneurs: A Huge Factor in the Economic Development of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi (Part 1)

By JOHNNY R. LEE, Ph.D

From a sleepy town to a bustling business center in the Province of Tawi-Tawi, Bongao is a microcosm of ‘business district’ that is widely happening in rich regions of the country like Metro Manila, Cebu City, Davao City and down south in Zamboanga City. 

It cannot be denied that all the above-named regions became economically progressive because of the number of Chinese migrants or sons of migrants who started small but grew phenomenally to own global business empires. Classic examples are Henry Sy, Lucio Tan and John Gokongwei who are the so-called ‘taipans’ of the Philippines. 

Bongao, although just a dot compared to the big cities, somehow mirrors the phenomenal rise of an obscure community into a modern urbanized zone in the south – mainly because of the good number of Chinese migrants who have established themselves as the captains of all sorts of enterprise ranging from buy and sell to big-time supplier and buyer of commodities like marine products, construction materials and food items. 

This writer still remembers, sometime in the 60’s and 70’s when only a single motor vehicle ( a dilapidated truck) ran the less than a kilometer dirt road to the pier to pick up cargoes from the arriving small commercial boat and drop it over to few stores along the narrow main thoroughfare. The road was so narrow that the truck can only drive straight ahead and run in ‘reverse’ all the way back. 

( To be continued on the next issue)

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