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Chinese New Year Celebration in Binondo

chinese new year

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

Posts like this are examples of insensitivity to a culture that has obviously gone global. Celebrating it in the Philippines is not even unusual because we live closely among them. 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.

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 and aspirations driven by people migrations and socializations on the Internet.

chinese new year

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

In the Philippines, Chinese culture is wonderfully woven into the Filipinos’ way of life. Our relationship with them spans centuries from ancient trading times to this day of computer mania.

chinese new year

Binondo always hosts the biggest celebration of the Chinese New Year as the country’s premier Chinatown.

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.

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

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

Dragon and lion dancers are in every street corner. Spectators clog the sidestreets unmindful of everything just to catch the performances and to wait for the throwaway goodies. Bright and colorful fireworks always light the skies of Manila. Anywhere you look around, Binondo screams of longevity, happiness, good fortune and wealth.

Prepare for Madness

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

chinese new year

No designated parking areas or directional signage add heavily to the chaos. 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.

The whole festival always looks like pansit canton—vegetable and meat toppings drowned in a messy and tangled noodle yet super filling and kick-ass yummy!

chinese new year

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

I am not Chinese (well, my mother is a quarter and my Xs are….sigh) 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.

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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