MANILA, Philippines – On the occasion of Chinese New Year, President Benigno Aquino III urged the Filipino-Chinese community to help “forge a stronger Filipino nation,” and praised it for being “an integral part of Philippine history.”
“May today’s festivities reinforce the values and qualities that enabled your community to contribute to a more vibrant Philippines; may it forge a stronger Filipino nation that is conscious of diversity and united in purpose,” the President said in his Chinese New Year message to the Filipino-Chinese community, on Wednesday, February 18.
Aquino said the Philippines is a “melting-pot of cultures” where the people’s “collective identity is shaped by the interplay of the customs and traditions of the people who have found homes on our shores.”
“Those of Chinese descent have been an integral part of Philippine history, first as traders and, later, as citizens and game changers, active participants in the country’s ongoing journey.”
He added, “Your government joins you as you celebrate the Lunar New Year, as it enriches your unique heritage, sustains the diversity of our nation, and stands as an embodiment of the harmony that mutual respect and goodwill can achieve.”
Aquino said the interplay of cultures in the country “allows us to become adaptable and resilient in this ever-evolving world, empowering us to make the most of our opportunities.”
Aquino had earlier declared February 19, the celebration of Chinese New Year, as a special non-working holiday in the country, in recognition of the contribution of the Filipino-Chinese community to nation-building.
Aquino traces his maternal roots to Hongjian Village in Fujian province, China, the hometown of his great, great grandfather, Co Yu Hwan. In 1861, Co settled in the Philippines, where he converted to the Catholic faith and was baptized Jose Cojuangco. – Rappler.com