Wilson Lee Flores

Wilson Lee Flores is a multi-awarded writer, educator, poet in English and Filipino languages, a columnist in English and Filipino languages, author of five books, economics/pop culture/politics/geopolitics analyst, and entrepreneur. He also describes himself as a “social worker” in his undertaking various philanthropic and cultural projects either in his capacity or as an officer of various non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Among his unique civic and cultural projects include donating several public school buildings to rural communities such as historic seaside Balangiga town in Eastern Samar province, Tarlac province, Barangay Dinalaoan in Calasiao in Pangasinan province, etc.; moderating the non-partisan “Pandesal Forum” which hopes to help elevate the public discourse on national and global issues; celebrating the annual “World Pandesal Day” every October 16 by giving tens of thousands of free loaves of bread and free medical/dental/optical services to the urban poor; celebrating UNESCO’s World Poetry Day every March 31; having his 83-year-old Kamuning Bakery Café cooperate with Quezon City Hall in baking many thousands of bread every day for one month in 2020 pandemic hard lockdown to be distributed free to all Q.C. government hospitals, medical and security front liners and shelters for the homeless; etc.

As a writer, Wilson Lee Flores has written on diverse topics ranging from business, economics, pop culture, humor, and arts to politics, winning him a record 15 Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA), including three CMMA Hall of Fame Awards for Best Opinion Column, Best Business Column and even Best Entertainment Column for his pop culture writings. This is the highest number of CMMA ever won by a person in the history of this prestigious award.

Some of his most notable writings promote better Philippines China understanding, such as these examples:

  1. Many of his writings in newspapers and magazines, also local and international TV and radio interviews through the decades, tackled economic, cultural, diplomatic, and gastronomic exchanges, even anti-colonial revolutionary and World War II cooperation as allies between the Philippines and China, and how Chinese entrepreneurs contributed to Philippine progress;
  2. As a first-year college student, he had won three Don Carlos Palanca Awards for Literature. His first prize-winning work was about the struggles and socio-economic contributions of ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs to Philippine national life since the Spanish colonial era. His two other prize-winning works were on the Filipino people’s revolutionary struggles against colonial oppression.
  3. Also, while a college student, he was commissioned by the late intellectual Dr. Doreen G. Fernandez to write about Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs throughout Philippine history for her groundbreaking “Kasaysayan” encyclopedia project on the history of the Filipino nation.
  4. For over two years in his college years, he pioneered writing about the often misunderstood and unheralded immigrant Chinese entrepreneurs. He humanized their stories of struggles in his weekly Monday column called “Roots of Philippine Business” for the “Manila Chronicle” newspaper with Joaquin “Chino” Roces as the publisher who invited him to write and Rigoberto Tiglao as his editor. These works were pioneering. They were translated into the Chinese language and published first on the front page of “Chinese Commercial News” and weekly in “World News.” He believes centuries of Chinese immigrants’ struggles and positive contributions to Philippine nation-building are priceless stories integral to Filipino national heritage. That column featured Chinese entrepreneurs and all pioneer entrepreneurs in Philippine history.

Here are just some of the numerous civic projects Wilson Lee Flores helped spearhead as an officer of various NGOs which promoted Philippines-China understanding:

  1. During the 2020 pandemic lockdown, he, as chairman of Anvil Business Club, contacted the Shenyang City government in Northeast China to solicit its donation of medical supplies for the Philippines’ biggest city Quezon City which Q.C. Mayor Joy Belmonte received;
  2. In the 2020 pandemic lockdown, he, as chairman of Anvil Business Club, led fund-raising among the Chinese community and donated P38 million worth of medical supplies for Metro Manila’s 15 largest hospitals;
  3. In the 2021 pandemic period, he, as Anvil Business Club chairman, contacted the Guangzhou City government in Southeast China to solicit its donation of P6 million pesos worth of school supplies as gifts for 10,000 public school children of Manila City, which Mayor Isko Moreno received;
  4. In the March 2021 pandemic period, he, as chairman of Anvil Business Club, led the donation of 2,000 bags of rice for urban poor communities in Tondo, Manila, and Quezon City;
  5. In Chinese New Year 2019, he, as chairman of Anvil Business Club, spearheaded the distribution of 10,000 tikoy gifts for two urban poor communities of Barracks and Camarin in Caloocan City;
  6. In June 2019, he, as chairman of the Public Information & Media Committee of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII), spearheaded FFCCCII’s timely humanitarian assistance for Mindoro fishermen whose boat was damaged in a mishap with a Chinese ship near Recto Bank at sea. This quick aid to fully repair the boat, plus donations of rice sacks and a public school building, helped calm down the weeks of daily, acrimonious media frenzy. This project had the support of the late Philippine Ambassador to Beijing, Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, FFCCCII President Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong, and FFCCCII Vice-President and Media Committee Adviser Jeffrey Ng;
  7. As chairman of Anvil Business Club, he proposed and spearheaded the donation of a larger-than-life granite monument of the great teacher and philosopher Confucius for the Chinese Garden of Rizal Park. Special thanks to then Tourism Secretary Ace Durano for his support. The project included the annual honoring of all teachers on Confucius’ September 28 birth anniversary and Anvil donations of college scholarship grants for students of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP);
  8. He—with the support of his late uncle philanthropist Manuel O. Chua of Tulay Foundation, Inc.—researched, traced, and verified the ancestral roots of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal in the village of Zhang-Guo (pronounced “Siongque” in Hokkien or south Fujian language) in Jinjiang of Fujian province, Southeast China. In his articles, he proposed the installation of a Rizal monument in Fujian, which was eventually realized with the world’s largest Rizal monument of 18.61 meters in height and even a huge Rizal Park. Both are now symbols of the ancient bond of friendship between the Philippines and China.
  9. Even in college at Ateneo de Manila University, he was active in many diverse extra-curricular organizations, such as being the founder and first president of Ateneo’s multi-awarded Celadon organization, which promotes better education and appreciation of Chinese culture and also undertakes civic endeavors. Up to this day, among the noble projects of Celadon is the annual “Spring Film Festival,” where world-class China-produced movies are shown for free to the public at a major shopping mall like Shangri-la Mall or SM North Edsa for a week during the Chinese New Year to promote better Filipino understanding of life in modernizing China.

Various award-giving bodies have likewise recognized him for his exemplary work as a writer, a media practitioner, and an entrepreneur with socio-civic endeavors. These recognitions include the Quezon City’s highest honor for most outstanding citizens, the 2018 Manuel L. Quezon Gawad Parangal Award, and the 2012 “Maestro Award”  from Grace Christian College.

This year, the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding (APPCU) recognizes Wilson Lee Flores as one of its worthy recipients for his efforts and contributions to facilitating a better understanding of the Chinese culture and the Chinese community in the Philippines through his writings as well as through his many socio-civic and cultural initiatives. As a media practitioner, Wilson has done much not only to promote Chinese culture but also opened up avenues for Filipinos to appreciate better the ethnic Chinese community and their positive role in the development, nation-building, and sustained cooperation between the Philippines and China.