As the Chinese New Year celebration is about to come to a close, let us share to you how we took part in this very special occasion.
In the Philippines, 18-27% or about 30 million people are Chinese or of Chinese ancestry. That is why many Filipinos join in the celebration of the Chinese New Year.
In the neighboring countries, such as China, Korea and Japan, celebrated the same occasion. The only difference is that they celebrate it longer, as it is the biggest holiday in their country. In China, it is called “Spring Festival Holiday”, in Japan and Korea, it is called “Lunar New Year”. Whatever is the term used, this holiday, generally, is the time for family, just like Christmas day in most countries.
Where else should people celebrate the Chinese New Year? Of course, in Chinatown! In Manila, there is a place we call Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world established in 1594. This place is the center of trade and commerce, with businesses mostly run by the Filipino-Chinese. Also, it is the place where you can eat authentic Chinese foods for every budget size, but do not compromise the quality.
Since the beginning of our relationship, and since every year, Chinese New Year is declared as a special non-working holiday, we decided to have a look at the festivities in Chinatown. It has been our yearly routine since then.
This year, CNY is on February 8. This year is the year of the Fire Money. We decided to go a day earlier for a change. The number of people in Binondo isn’t as much as on the day itself, which is quite an advantage for us because restaurants aren’t that jam-packed yet.
We got there at lunch time, so we’re starving, that’s why we decided to eat at Lan Zhou La Mien, which is famous for their La Mien noodles and dumplings.
After lunch, we decided to walk around and as we walk through the streets of Binondo, we met lots of Dragon and Lion dancers. Lion and dragon dances are very famous in China, as you very well know, to bring good luck and prosperity.
There are also a lot of charms and jewelries that are being sold to bring good luck.
Santo Cristo de Longos Shrine, located at the corner of Ongpin and San Nicolas Streets, is one of Binondo’s well-known stops. It is a street-side shrine where people can recite prayer, give offerings and light a candle or an incense.
We also dropped by at Eng Bee Tin, famous for its hopia (bean cake / moon cake) and tikoy (sweet sticky rice cake / nian gao), with various flavors to choose from. It has become so famous that they have expanded to a larger store and established several branches around Chinatown. It also has some branches in other area in the metro.
Read the second part of our CNY trip here.