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Chinese New Year Celebration in Binondo

chinese new year

I came across a post on Facebook saying, “If you are not Chinese & you are celebrating the Chinese New Year, you are lost!”

Posts like these are examples of insensitivity to a culture that obviously has gone global.  Celebrating it in the Philippines is not even unusual because we live closely among Chinese people. They are part of our history. And for as long as the myth of that dragon chasing the pearl of wisdom lives, we will continue to celebrate the Chinese New Year, whatever race or religion we belong to.

binondo Chinese new year

The endless journeying of man since pre-historic times continuously builds a world culture shared by everyone. These unique cultural identities are seamlessly integrated by common experiences & aspirations driven by people migrations & socializations on the Internet.

chinese new year

Today, only very few communities live on isolated, homogenized cultures. We live in a world that celebrates diversity.

In the Philippines, Chinese culture is wonderfully woven into the Filipinos’ way of life. In fact, our relationship with them spans centuries from ancient trading times to this digital age.

chinese new year

Chinese New Year in the oldest Chinatown in the world.

I have witnessed the celebration of Chinese New Year in many Chinese-centric communities like in Binondo, Bacolod, Cebu & Davao. I’ve also done it in China, Singapore & Hongkong. And always, its pageantry never fails to amaze me.

binondo Chinese new year

In the world’s oldest Chinatown in Binondo, every Chinese New Year spells more chaos than its already frenzied regular days. Its narrow alleys are filled with more red lanterns, goodluck charms & a sea of people. They come in seemingly endless waves to shop, dine & party.

chinese new year

People buy charm trinkets, home decors, round fruits & other goodies with hopes of receiving sprinkles of fortune. On the other hand, hawker food stalls rescue hungry guests who could not stand the long queues in popular & age-old Chinese restaurants.

Chinese new year binondo

Dragon & lion dancers are in every street corner. Spectators clog the sidestreets unmindful of everything just to catch the performances or to wait for the throwaway goodies. Bright & colourful fireworks light the skies of Manila.

Anywhere you look around, Binondo screams of longevity, happiness, good fortune as well as wealth.

binondo Chinese new year

Prepare for Madness

While the festival is always fun-filled & exciting, it sorely lacks seamless organization. Most of its narrow streets are still open to traffic creating an unimaginable jam. Indeed, it tests your patience & driving skills getting through the wild crowd until you reach its gates.

chinese new year

binondo Chinese new year

Moreover, no designated parking areas or directional signage add heavily to the chaos. Also, there are less visible police outposts & emergency response teams — it’s a security nightmare. I hope they could improve too on their parade concepts & produce it like most of our known spectator street parades.

Truly, the whole festival looks like pansit canton — vegetable & meat toppings drowned in a messy & tangled noodle yet super filling & kick-ass yummy!

chinese new year

We live each moment with unique cultural values & aspirations. We strive to create harmony by finding in the vast & fast-moving world space a cultural mileu that we can all share.

binondo Chinese new year

I am not Chinese (well, my mother is a quarter & my Xs are…LOL). But I always celebrate it in the spirit of being one with our Filipino-Chinese brothers. After all, somewhere, somehow there is always a Made in China in us.

binondo lion dance

I slammed that Facebook post with an unremorseful reply, “you are obviously culturally comatose and sadly beyond redemption.”

Kung Hei Fat Choi!


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