Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Cheng Family Temple

The 延平郡王祠 Koxinga Shrine in Tainan is very well-known. Little realized is that nearby, there is the 鄭氏家廟Cheng Family temple which is located on Chung-yi Road Sec 2 No 36. The stone marker below is, however, a modern addition:

The original name of this temple is 鄭成功祖廟Koxinga's Ancestral Shrine (see the plaque under the eaves in the structure below). It was built by Koxinga's son 鄭經Cheng Jing in 1663. In other words, it only accommodates the Koxinga branch of the Cheng Family. There are no other temples honoring Koxinga's brothers.

At the altar, a wooden statue of Koxinga can be seen:
In the front garden area, a statue of Koxinga and his mother Lady Weng was recently erected. It is a copy of the original located in Koxinga's birthplace in Hirado, Nagasaki. In the inner courtyard, a bamboo tree planted by Koxinga's principal wife Lady Tung has survived to this day:

his temple is now extended to include all Cheng's regardless of their ancestral link - whether it was with Koxinga or his father Cheng Zhi-lung or even no links at all, hence the 鄭氏家廟 designation. A world congress will be held on Nov 6, 2011. All Cheng's are welcome!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Koxinga and Manila

[Above: The vision of Blessed Guala, by Cosimo Gamberucci, from the Great Cloister of Santa Maria Novella, the principal Dominican church of Florence, ca. 1580]

History is replete with what-if's. For example, what if Koxinga had lived long enough and conquered Manila? What would the history of SE Asia be?

According to 臺灣通史[The Comprehensive History of Taiwan] by the great historian Lien-Heng [連橫 (1878-1936)]:

"At first, Roman Catholic priest 李科羅 (Victorio Rici, or in Spanish: Victorio Riccio, 1621-1685) was preaching in Amoy. Koxinga treated him with respect and invited him to be a consul. At that time, there were several hundred thousand Chinese residing in Luzon who had long been mis-treated by the Spaniards [Note: especially under the ruthless administration of Governor General Diego Fajardo Chacón, from 1644 to 1653)]. Koxinga's generals proposed that Luzon be annexed. Koxinga therefore sent Rici to Manila to demand the Spanish Governor General to pay tributes but also secretly to plot a revolt by the Chinese - to be supported by warships and soldiers from Taiwan. The plan was exposed, however, and the Spaniards heightened their defense and dispatched soldiers [Note: from Mindanao Island] to destroy Manila to avoid capture/occupation. By then, the Chinese were in uprising who fought in pitched battles for several days but failed in the end. Tens of thousands were killed. Some escaped on little boats and sailed to Taiwan with many drowned on the way. Koxinga seized the opportunity to pacify the Spaniards when Luzon was still in turmoil. The Spaniards were also worried that Koxinga might attack, so an emissary traveled with Rici to Taiwan to sue for peace. Koxinga's general staff preferred punitive actions; however, before the invasion could be carried out, Koxinga passed away [Note: on July 23, 1662]."

The key player in this drama, 李科羅 Victorio Rici was a member of 利瑪竇's extended family [Note: 利瑪竇 (Italian name: Matteo Ricci, 1552-1610), a Jesuit from Italy who travel to China to preach in 1583 and stayed for life)]. Fr Rici was born in S. Maria a Cintoia of Florence and had studied in Fiesole and Rome. In 1654, he went from Manila to Amoy to build a Dominican Church and administer to Koxinga's soldiers.

In 1662, Fr Victorio Riccio was appointed the ambassador to Manila and on May 5th, he practically handed an invitation to surrender from Koxinga to the Spanish Governor General demanding for the submission of the Spanish Colony. The document reads as follows: 

A directive from Koxinga of the Great Ming to Governor General Manrique de Lara of Manila:

...I (Koxinga) have now driven the Dutch out of Taiwan. Numerous Dutchmen were killed for unwise resistance. If they had capitulated sooner, they would not have suffered such a disastrous fate...,

...You (the Spaniards) are no different from the Dutch, from another tiny state. In Taiwan, I have in my command several hundred thousand soldiers and one thousand warships. I was about to invade Manila; however, in view of your emissary arriving to beg for trade treaties, a behavior different from the Dutch, I am therefore empowering Father Rici to ask that you submit to my rule and pay yearly tributes. If there is any trickery on your part, my ships will quickly arrive and destroy you totally, just like what I have done to the Dutch. By then it'll be too late. The choice is yours...

永曆十六年三月七日  (Dated and signed by) 國姓爺[Koxinga]

The Spanish Governor General of the Philippines Islands was Sabiniano Manrique de Lara who succeeded the despotic Diego Fajardo Chacón and ruled between July 25, 1653 and Sept 8, 1663.

This was a story with no ending. Fr Victorio Rici spent the rest of his natural days in the Chinese District in Manila and died there peacefully.