By Rose Servidad and Melanie Gornez Purigay
In a series of distinctive tributes hosted by the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), four outstanding Filipinos with Chinese heritage were celebrated for their profound contributions to Philippine social and cultural progress.
The events honored Michelle Dee, Ricky Lee, Jose Mari Chan, and EJ Uy Obiena—remarkable individuals, each a luminous figure in their respective fields, exemplifying excellence and positive impact.
Michelle Dee: Beauty, Grace, and Advocacy
Michelle Dee stands 5 feet, 10 inches tall during her speech at FFCCCII Bldg. in Manila
The spotlight illuminated Michelle Dee for her stellar achievements as the 2023 Miss Universe Top 10 Finalist, GMA 7 actress, and dedicated advocate for autism awareness. Gracefully accepting the FFCCCII recognition, Ms. Dee’s family legacy resonated within the FFCCCII building. Her ties to the organization run deep, with her grandfather, the late China Bank Chairman and philanthropist Dee K. Chiong, having served as FFCCCII Vice-President, and her granduncle the late lumber tycoon and community stalwart Dee Hong Lue also serving as FFCCCII Vice-President.
Surrounded by a lineage of trailblazers, including her granduncle, pre-war “Lumber King” 1920 China Bank founder, pre-war Philippine Chinese Chamber President and philanthropist Dee C. Chuan, and her great-great-granduncle, 19th-century Philippine lumber industry pioneer and philanthropist Dy Han Kia, Ms. Dee’s celebration was not just a recognition of her beauty and indivisual accomplishments, but also a tribute to her family’s rich heritage of Confucian philanthropy.
Ricky Lee: A Literary Journey of Excellence and Social Idealism
National Artist Ricky Lee was honored with FFCCCII Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to Philippine culture and for uplifting positive image of the Filipino Chinese community.
National Artist Ricardo “Ricky” Lee, a renowned film screenwriter, novelist, and journalist, received a heartfelt homage from the FFCCCII for his outstanding contributions to Philippine cinema and literature.
Mr. Lee’s father, the late scholar Lee Hian Chin, served with distinction for 26 years as the secretary-general of the Camarines Norte Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an FFCCCII member organization.
Mr. Lee’s honor was a recognition not only of his individual achievements but also of his profound impact on shaping the cultural landscape of the Philippines, marked by his commitment to social idealism.
Jose Mari Chan: Melodies that Transcend Time
Singer and songwriter Jose Mari Lim Chan has been honored with FFCCCII Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to Philippine culture and for uplifting positive image of Filipino Chinese community.
The melodic tunes of Jose Mari Chan filled the air as FFCCCII celebrated the multi-awarded singer-songwriter and businessman. The son of the respected “rags-to-riches” business leader Antonio Chan, Mr. Chan’s timeless music has become an integral part of Philippine culture.
As a household name nationwide, particularly during the Christmas season for his beloved Yuletide songs, Jose Mari Chan’s FFCCCII recognition was a testament to his role in fostering unity and joy across generations.
EJ Uy Obiena: Soaring to New Heights & PHL’s hope for Paris Olympics
EJ Obiena broke Asiad record twice and won gold at Hangzhou Asian Games to cheers by 80,000 Chinese fans despite his rival a Chinese athlete ending up with silver.
The FFCCCII paid tribute to and gave generous support for EJ Uy Obiena, the high jump gold medalist at the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games. Mr. Obiena’s journey from the heights of world-class sports excellence to being the Philippines’ hopeful for a 2024 Paris Olympics gold medal resonated with triumph and dedication.
Expressing gratitude for the P5 million support for his training from the FFCCCII, Mr. Obiena also recalled childhood memories of accompanying his mother to the same FFCCCII building to collect scholarship grants. His honor was not just a recognition of his athletic achievements but also a celebration of his humble beginnings and the vital role of FFCCCII in supporting his Olympian aspirations.
Inspirations and Role Models for the Youth
FFCCCII President Dr. Cecilio Pedro
In honoring these four exceptional individuals, the FFCCCII has crafted an inspiring narrative of success, diversity, and cultural richness. Michelle Dee, Ricky Lee, Jose Mari Chan, and EJ Uy Obiena are not merely contributors to Philippine progress; they stand as inspirations and positive role models for the youth, embodying the ethos of excellence and resilience that defines the Filipino-Chinese community.
These celebrations were not just recognitions; they were declarations of FFCCCII’s enduring spirit of unity, resilience, public service and progress.