During the Spanish period, the Chinese are considered as second class citizens. But a number of them rose to prominence shaping Bicol Region’s history and culture. Among those that ring a bell is Jose Ignacio Paua which we featured earlier — a leader of Andres Bonifacio’s Katipunan and later a mayor of Manito, Albay.
Another that literally and figuratively rings a bell is Simon Li Tuanqui, a pure Chinese ‘known for donating the now equally well-known pair of “Li Tuanqui Bells” to the Peñafrancia Shrine in Nueva Caceres in 1863 and 1868‘. He was one of the early Chinese migrants baptized in the Roman Catholic faith in the Bicol Region.
Aside from donating the bells, he also donated a significant amount of his wealth for the construction of the Peñafrancia Shrine and financed the building of the first pagoda for the annual procession in the Naga River.
Simon Li Tuanqui spent the rest of his life in the Bicol Region as businessman. He resided in Polangui, Albay and fathered sons and daughters who shaped local politics and the economy.