The Baao public market may be the only marketplace in Bicol, if not the entire Philippines, with no Chinese entrepreneurs. - Photo courtesy of Bicol Mail
By JUAN ESCANDOR JR
BAAO, CamSur: No Chinese entrepreneur had ever thrived here since after the Second World War while the municipal treasurer’s office showed that some 200 registered business establishments this year in this town are all owned by Filipinos.
Paulix Robosa, Baao’s local historian, considers the story of Chinese entrepreneurs avoiding their town as being an urban legend after stories of incidents of harassment against them spread by word of mouth.
One story goes that one Chinese entrepreneur running a bakery left when some buyers handed heated coins as payment while another one left in a huff when his establishment was pelted with stones every night.
Robosa said the story of Chinese driven away from their town had somehow became a source of pride at a time when bad news about China was spreading while Chinese national Lim Seng was shot by firing squad over illegal drugs.
“Chinese entrepreneurs had thrived here before war like the families of Uy-Barreta and Cha but were reportedly eventually rounded up and killed by Japanese occupation forces,” he narrated.
Robosa said the Chinese in their town were gone after the war when they lived in other places even though some families with Chinese blood remained in Baao.
Dick Arroyo, 42, a vegetable vendor at the Baao Public Market, retold the same “urban legend” Robosa narrated but said he heard from his parents it was so because Chinese entrepreneurs were very strict.
Priscila Ballesteros, 89, another vendor, attested that indeed the Chinese entrepreneurs were gone because the people of Baao do not want to be beaten by the former in business.
Ballesteros recalled that a certain Chinese named Cosme and Prospero tried to establish business here but they are all dead by now and their families decided to migrate to Manila and America.
Baao Mayor Melquiades Gaite also confirmed that no Chinese entrepreneur thrives in the town but sees its downside of slow progress because of lack of investment coming in.
Gaite lamented that the town’s location in the middle between two cities - Iriga and Naga - is actually an obstacle to the growth of their municipality.
He said Baao, 30km from Naga City, is a third-class town with some 60,000 inhabitants basically dependent on agriculture.
Gaite said he welcomes Chinese entrepreneurs if they could perk up the local economy by establishing business that will generate employment and income to the local government. – Bicol Mail