HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 64 no. 1 (2018)

The Chinese Presence in Northern Luzon: An Exploratory Study

Teresita Ang See



The 1588 Selden Map of China has Aparri as the first name that appears, followed by Sanchez Mira in Cagayan Valley, and Lam Ong or Namoah, west of Aparri. This means that long before the Spaniards discovered the alternate route to Moluccas, places in Northern Luzon were already well known to Chinese traders. However, there is conspicuously little mention about the Chinese communities in these areas. Did they just sail along the coast to trade and gather native products? Were there no settlements that established then? Only towards the end of the Tobacco Monopoly did we start encountering more information about the Chinese in Cagayan. The end of the monopoly apparently opened up more economic opportunities for them and the mestizo generation was born and raised that gave competition to the elites. This paper provides vignettes on the Chinese presence in Northern Luzon since ancient times. But further research is needed to expand the data so far gathered to be able to come up with definitive conclusions. What is conclusive is that the Chinese presence in Northern Luzon is borne out by written records, anthropological and archaeological research, and in the similarities in the customs, traditions and life rituals practiced by the early Chinese and early Filipinos. The information and data gathered on the Chinese in this region are an important contribution to the historiography of Northern Luzon and Philippine society.