Chinatown Is Not A Place

And neither is this book history, though someday it might well be

“Chinatown is not a place,” declared journalist-author Jullie Yap Daza to her friends. Now that sentence is the title of her latest book.

Technically, Chinatown is one square kilometer in size, an area surrounded by streets whose real estate values rival Makati’s. If it’s not a place, what is it? In Daza’s words, Chinatown is as much about the Binondo-born as the Greenhills-bred. It is remembering the hard-working “Intsik” who rose from rags to riches as it is about raising today’s generation of Chinese Filipinos who, like her own grandchildren, show no trace of the Chineseness that once set their ancestors apart as a minority group in Philippine society.

In her easily recognizable style, Daza puts together a collection of anecdotes and jokes, tales told by Chinese-Filipinos aka Chinoys about themselves. With humor and her usual light touch, she catches tai pans and tai-tai in their unguarded moments along with other prosperous but famously frugal merchants and traders.

With humor and her usual light touch, Jullie Yap Daza catches tai pans and tai-tai in their unguarded moments along with other prosperous but famously frugal merchants and traders.

Published by Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp., Chinatown Is Not A Place “is not a history book,” according to the author, “though someday it might well be.” In the meantime, there is much to discover about the Chinoys’ trademark frugality vs their propensity toward prosperity.

As Ruby Quirino Gonzalez Meyer, granddaughter of President Elpidio Quirino, puts it, “It used to be Manila’s 400. If you say it’s now Manila’s 4,000, believe you me, those 4,000 are Chinoys.”

Some unsolicited reviews:

So precious. —Francis Chua, chairman emeritus, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry; chairman, Philippine Silk Road International Corp.

Wasn’t able to put it down (received the book at 5 p.m.) ‘til almost midnight (forgot to eat dinner) after I’d read it from cover to cover. A most absorbing and informative read. How very charmingly you capped the current sociological evolutionary mix with your grandchildren who represent the future! —Zenaida Seva, astrologer

So real and true, relevant and current. Every Chinoy should have a copy. The more I read it, the more I like it. —Linda Panutat, advertising executive

Mommy did not put the book down until she finished it. —Dr. Isa Cojuangco Suntay

Reading the book feels like reading your column. —Nonie Basilio, former president, Friends for Cultural Concerns of the Philippines

Awesome! —Atty. Ellen Francisco, contractor

Hi, Jullie. Will not read your book. Sorry. My wife is gushing over it and naikwento na lahat sa akin, ha ha! Congratulations again! Another success, just like Etiquette! —Resty Perez, businessman

Full of insights! A good read. —Dorian Chua, hotel and restaurant owner

Just finished reading JYDaza’s book. It is highly informative, entertaining, and well researched. Very good reading. —Gregorio R. Vigilar, former DPWH secretary

Wow! Reading through pages of people I’ve heard of, people who shaped the country, people who know how to work hard, eat well, and love the Philippines. Chinatown Is Not A Place is a book to be read over and over again. —Veronica Veloso Yap Wuson

A fun read! —Fr. Ari Dy, SJ, president, Xavier School

Chinatown Is Not A Place is available at National Book Store, Fully Booked, Shopee, Lazada. Or call Manila Bulletin circulation department, 02 8527-8121. For Lazada and Shopee, click here