CHUA KING HA
Chua King Ha is the wife of Tan Yan Kee and the mother of seven children, among whom is the taipan and philanthropist Dr. Lucio C. Tan.
Once awarded “model mother” by the Philippine Chinese Chamber Association and the Philippine Chinese Woman’s Association, Chua King Ha never involved herself in the political affairs of society nor held any formal title in her lifetime. She regarded her role as charity donor, educator, and emigrant leader as her wealth.
Born on February 5, 1915 in Jinjiang City, Fujian Province, her mother gave her rigorous training in poetry. Her father was a scholar on Qing Dynasty. She carried her home training well into her years and up to her old age still recited essays of Zhugeliang and Tang Dynasty poems without missing a line.
In 1931, she married Tan Yan Kee and eventually raised five sons and two daughters. After her marriage, she helped her father-in-law manage their family business during the day and took care of household duties and guided her children in studying at night. When her husband left for the Philippines with son Lucio Tan, she took over the responsibility of heading the family in Fujian. She and the rest of the family followed soon afterwards.
While Chua King Ha embraced her new home, she also longed for her homeland and was happy for its progress in a poem she once wrote:
Seasons change, but homesickness remains
Living in a foreign land, but thinking about the homeland
Happy to see homeland's progress
Good news is the destiny of the nation’s prosperity.
She was industrious and frugal as she was kind and charitable. She often helped the poor and donated to people who affected by natural disasters.
She valued education most and supported the sending of students overseas for further study. She always believed that education is a business of investing in people and not just a profit enterprise. She has spearheaded the building of schools, classrooms, and auditorium where most needed. She also gave scholarships to students to study in Xiamen University. Later on, she also donated to another school in her hometown. Throughout her life, she always believed in the value of education, saying, "May my meager contribution help the little children grow to be useful in the service to our society through education. May they render this service to repay others." She had this high expectation on the scholars whom she assisted-- and that is to help others in return.
Chua King Ha believed that to make people productive and good citizens, the government should increase its yearly investment in education. She also believed that the school, society, and the family also have their share of the responsibility.
She helped her husband raise seven children successfully and who all finished schooling. All her children are successful in their business careers. She was such a good role model to her children and taught them the basic ways to be good people.
Everyone she knew would say that she was a person with a tender and kind heart. People around her always treated her like a dear relative.
In 2003, Chua King Ha passed on peacefully at the age of 92. Thousands of people attended her funeral to pay their final respects. She lived her whole life with a loving heart for society, and her noble character is like a candle light shining and will pass on forever, encouraging the next generations in the years to come.
In honor of the memory and legacy that the late Chua King Ha wished to keep like a candle burning forever and the strong advocacy of the Tan Yan Foundation in the area of Education, the pilot Chua King Ha Educational Center at the Tan Yan Kee Elementary School (TYKES) in one of the mountain peaks of Nueva Vizcaya was established. As it gets replicated in other areas, they will carry the vision of providing focus and opportunity for teachers, students, and the community.
The center provides dormitories for educators that facilitate inter-school activities and sharing of teachers, considering the difficult terrain and distances negotiated from one school to another. This is also seen to promote psychological and social aspects of the educational experience.
TYKES is already emerging in the area as a well-equipped center of learning complete with buildings, library, and computers. Macdu Elementary School’s dilapidated classrooms have been replaced by new ones under the Chua King Ha Educational Centers. Baracbac Elementary School no longer uses the Barangay Hall as classroom, having been replaced by a new one that is a permanent facility for students. The most urgent need was for Canarem Elementary School, where classrooms were already certified for demolition by municipal engineers.
These schools are in remote mountain-top locations and coupled with difficult roads and lack of facilities had in the past suffered from student drop-outs and lack of teachers. Since Tan Yan Foundation began work on TYKES and now moves towards the broader Chua King Ha Educational Centers, enrolment and continuing attendance have gone up to 143 students in TYKES, 224 in Macdu Elementary School, 195 in Baracbac Elementary School, and 199 in Canarem Elementary School.
In what many consider a missionary but rewarding effort, the Foundation continues to provide tools and resources needed to these remote areas with quality education as its aim. Partners Department of Education and the Local Government Units of Nueva Vizcaya provide impetus and encouragement for all stakeholders in realizing continuing education for the young towards a productive future.