For Dr James Dy, helping people gives him a sense of purpose in life, a fulfilment far more rewarding than anything the world can offer. At 91 years old, Dy is one of the country’s most prominent Filipino-Chinese philanthropists, having literally helped thousands of people over the years.
Yet even at his age, the businessman still has the vigor and enthusiasm of a young man whose desire to help others is pure and genuine.
Born to Chinese parents Dy Hun and Honorota Go, who moved to the Philippines some 100 years ago, Dy learned the values of honesty, empathy, and social responsibility, as well as having a close-knit family early on in his life.
They’re the same values he continues to teach his six children, whom he raised with his lovely wife.
Growing up, Dy looked up to his father, who was as honest an entrepreneur as they come. And when it was his time to put up and run his own businesses, he brought with him the values he learned from his father, delivering quality service and dealing with customers squarely and with fairness.
As a businessman, Dy has investments and involvements in different industries, including housing and real estate, music, electrical and wiring devices manufacturing, medical and pharmaceutical, hotel and restaurant, and travel and tourism.
“My parents are hard workers and persevering immigrants from China who strived during the early days to put up a business here in Manila to provide for our family,” he said.
Even today, Dy wears many hats. Among his most important roles is being president of the Philippine Chinese Charitable Association Inc., the owner and operator of Chinese General Hospital & Medical Center, and Chairman Emeritus of Filipino Chinese General Chamber of Commerce Inc. (FCGCCI).
“My motto in life is ‘Do not abuse your fellow men.’ Be fair to them. What you do not want other people to do to you, do not do to them,” said Dy, who grew up during harsh times under the Japanese occupation many decades ago.
It was during these desperate times that he witnessed many sufferings of ordinary Filipinos, many of whom did not even have access to food and basic services. That was when he vowed to do everything he could, to make a meaningful difference to his countrymen.
While he is proud of his Chinese lineage and uses those connections to improve Filipino-Chinese relations (he often mediates and push for better bilateral relations between the two countries), especially on sensitive issues such as in ownership of disputed islands, Dy said he takes pride in calling himself a Filipino, too.
“We may have Chinese ancestors, but we are Filipino through and through. We are raised here, educated here, even our children are born and raised in the Philippines,” he said.
As part of FCGCCI, Dy was always instrumental in helping negotiate with the government to craft laws that would benefit the Chinese businessmen and the Filipino people alike. He helps out as much as he can, from helping in communication (because most Chinese entrepreneurs would use Chinese characters and speak their native language back then), to guiding many budding entrepreneurs today.
As part of the Chinese General Hospital, Dy spearheads regular medical and dental missions, as well as relief operations in times of calamities.
“I’m not a doctor by profession but a doctor at heart, who wants to help people who are sick,” he would often tell those who mistake his honorary doctorate degrees with that of Doctor of Medicine.
Dy has helped—and continues to extend a helping hand—to thousands of people in his lifetime. And there is no doubt he’d continue to do what he can, to improve the lives of so many more for years to come.