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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chinese New Year and the Year of the Water Dragon » How you can join the fun even if you are not Chinese

Most Tsinoys, or the Filipino-Chinese community in the Philippines will celebrate Chinese New Year this weekend. This is the most important of all Chinese holidays and arguably the most auspicious date on the Chinese lunar calendar.

2012 is the year of the Water Dragon, which starts January 23, 2012 and ends February 9, 2013. Dragons are quite special and very much revered because it symbolizes power, superiority and rule, thus this year’s Chinese New Year celebration is expected to be extra spectacular. 

Although the Philippines is the largest Catholic country in Asia, Chinese New Year will be commemorated in the country for the first time and to mark the coming of the Year of the Dragon, the Philippine Postal Corporation (Philpost) recently released its two dragon-design stamps. 

January 23 is also declared as non-working holiday. According to the Malacañan Palace Proclamation 295:

 “The Chinese nationals all over the world will celebrate Spring Festival, popularly known as the Chinese New Year, which is one of the most revered and festive events celebrated not only in China but also in the Philippines by both Chinese Filipinos and ordinary Filipinos as well; and the joint celebration is a manifestation of our solidarity with our Chinese Filipino brethren who have been part of our lives in many respects as a country and as a people; 23 January 2012 may be declared as a special (non-working) day without detriment to public interest.”

Waves of mainland Chinese immigration throughout history have resulted in about 20 percent of the Filipino population having Chinese ancestry today. A majority of which self-identify as Filipino which gave birth to the term Tsinoy, a combination of "Tsino" meaning Chinese and the slang word "Pinoy" meaning Filipino. (The term Intsik has fallen out of favor.)

It is always difficult to separate Chinese culture from the Filipino national identity, and the best evidence of this are the everyday Chinese things such as the siopao, hopia, feng-shui, lumpia, mami, tsinelas, etc.  It can’t be denied that China has an overwhelming influence on the Philippines that are evident in cuisine, architecture, interior design, culture and tradition.

Chinese New Year Celebration for the Non-Chinese

Chinese New Year may not be celebrated as grandly in the Philippines as it is in nearby Asian countries, but this doesn’t mean that you should completely overlook this time of festivities. 
 
Of course the best place to feel the Chinese New Year spirit is at the Chinatown in Binondo.

Established by the Spaniards in 1594 within a cannon shot of the Old Walled City of Intramuros, Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown, explodes with a cacophony of sensuous experiences of food, culture and the continuing saga of the Chinese story in the Philippines.
  • You can join the Chinese New Year  Manila Grand Parade celebration which usually starts in Binondo then weaves its way through the city to bayside Rizal Park. The festivities continue with a countdown, dragon dance and fireworks display when the clock strikes midnight.
  • Also, don’t forget to send “Kung Hei Fat Choi!” greetings. However, in the Hokkien language that most Chinese Filipinos speak, the Chinese New Year greeting is Kiong Hee Huat Tsai. To compare, the Cantonese version dominant in Hong Kong is Kung Hei Fat Choi and the Mandarin is Gong Xi Fa Cai. It means "Congratulations and Be Prosperous."
  • You can also drop by at colorful shops selling charms, crystals and amulets said to ward off evil spirits and bring luck, riches and prosperity or dine at specialty Chinese restaurants, buy hopia and visit other curio stores.
  • The food most fondly looked forward to during Chinese New Year in the Philippines is tikoy, a treat made from sticky rice. You can buy this in beautifully designed red boxes and give it to friends and business associates as gifts.
  • Or if you want an organized food trip you can join The Big Binondo Food Wok, a special walking tour organized by Manila tour experts, Old Manila Walks. Led by Ivan Man Dy, the tour goes through the streets of Binondo, and is centered on food and Chinoy history. It runs all year round, but they’re holding a special tour for Chinese New Year on Jan. 21 starting at 1:30 p.m., Jan. 22 at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Jan. 23 at 8 a.m. The tour rate is P1,500 per head and includes the tasting menu and a special surprise.Check out their Old Manila Walks website for more details.

2012 Year of the Water Dragon Festivities

If you can’t visit Chinatown, here’s the list of some festivities around the metro you can check out: 
  • SM Mall of Asia festivities includes a Chinoy Hao Bang! At SM by the Bay on January 22 Sunday which includes raffles, performances by talented Filipino-Chinese students, costume parade and a spectacular fireworks display to welcome the Year of the Dragon.
  • Robinsons Malls (Forum and Galleria) will also hold Chinese Cultural Show (ribbon, fan umbrella, lantern dance and Chinese opera with orchestra) on January 23. 
  • Newport Mall will be hosting a Chinese Cultural Exhibition on Jan. 22 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. featuring fan dancers and wushu exhibitionists among others. The next day at 11 a.m., mimes and stiltwalkers are set to perform, while mascots Cai Shen and Choi Ying offer Chinese sweet treats.
  • Manila Hotel’s celebration on January 22-23 will involve a bazaar, a dragon dance, a fireworks display, and a Chinese feast at the Mabuhay Palace. Regular tickets for the Chinese New Year at the Manila Hotel are priced at PhP 2,188.00 and Premium tickets are priced at PhP 3,188.00. More details can be found on their website Manila Hotel.
  • At Resorts World, the revelry starts early and lasts well into February. Filipino restaurant Mercado will be serving a lucky buffet—P88 for breakfast, P188 for lunch—from Jan. 15 to Feb. 15, while a firecracker lighting ceremony will be held at the Main Entrance on Jan. 22 and 30, and Feb. 6 at 11 p.m. to ward off the bad luck and bring in the good vibes.
  • The 6th annual Spring Film Festival should be a good enough celebration. You can catch some real gems of Chinese cinema starting on Jan. 20 at the Shangri-la Plaza cineplex. And since admission is free, you can even see them all, until the festival ends on the 29th.
  • Iloilo is also preparing for the festivities, which will start right after the Dinagyang Festival and will run until January 29. The celebration will include Chinese Heritage and Heroism Exhibits, traditional dragon and lion dances, ethnic tribe exhibits, wushu exhibition, cultural parade along the China town, a food festival, cultural program and pyrotechnics, astrology forecast sessions and fashion show showcasing the Chinese tribe costumes and Chinese dynasty gowns.
Kung Hei Fat Choi!


_______________________________
Citations: 
» Buaron, Ryan A. 2010. “Binondo: Manila’s Chinatown
» Macairan, Evelyn 2011. "Philpost releases dragon stamps for Lunar New Year" The Philippine Star
» MALACAÑAN PALACE PROCLAMATION NO. 295: DECLARING THE REGULAR HOLIDAYS, SPECIAL (NON-WORKING) DAYS, AND SPECIAL HOLIDAY (FOR ALL SCHOOLS) FOR THE YEAR 2012
» Lago, Amanda. 2012. "Wake the dragon: 2012 Chinese New Year festivities". GMANews
» "Preparations for Chinese New Year fest start" Sunstar Iloilo Local News.
Image Credit:
» Dama Dragon by Ilustralia on DeviantArt






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Yodi Insigne
Yodi de Veas Insigne is one of those delusional sorts who imagines himself a useful contributor to the greater blogosphere (Well, that's what he's trying to accomplish).

He started blogging for three reasons:

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