Manila, the bustling capital city of the Philippines, is gearing up for a grand celebration of the Chinese New Year and the 430th founding anniversary of Binondo, the oldest and largest Chinatown in the world. From February 9-10, more than a million people are expected to join in the festivities, making it a truly spectacular event.
According to Bernardito Ang, the city administrator, the upcoming celebration holds special significance as it marks the first grand gathering after the challenging times brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, despite the restrictions, an estimated 500,000 to one million visitors flocked to Binondo, showcasing the enduring popularity of the event. This year, with the lifting of pandemic restrictions, even more people are expected to participate in the festivities.
One of the highlights of the celebration is the grand fireworks display, which will take place at the new Filipino-Chinese Friendship Bridge at midnight on February 9. The display, approved by the Department of National Defense, promises to be a mesmerizing spectacle that will last for 12-15 minutes. To ensure the safety of residents and visitors, the city administration has advised against staging personal fireworks at home. Instead, spectators can gather at Jones Bridge to witness this breathtaking show.
On February 10, a solidarity walk will take place, starting from an area behind the Post Office and culminating at the Lucky Chinatown mall. This symbolic walk not only showcases the unity and camaraderie of the community but also provides an opportunity for locals and tourists alike to immerse themselves in the vibrant atmosphere of the festivities.
The streets of Ongpin will come alive with colorful lion dances, a traditional sight during the Chinese New Year celebration. The Manila Chinatown Development Council (MCDC) has also organized a traditional parade featuring 20 floats prepared by various Chinese-Filipino organizations. Along the parade route, participants will distribute red envelopes, known as “angpao,” which are believed to bring good luck to both the giver and the receiver.
For those visiting Binondo on New Year’s Day, the Lucky Chinatown mall has a special treat in store. Celebrity guests will grace the mall with a free show, adding to the excitement and entertainment of the celebration.
The official start of the festivities was marked on February 1 with the ceremonial lighting of the prosperity tree in Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz, Binondo. This symbolic act sets the tone for the entire celebration, symbolizing hope, prosperity, and good fortune for the year ahead.
To ensure the smooth flow of the celebration, the Manila Chinatown Barangay Organization, in collaboration with the Manila Police District traffic enforcement unit, will soon issue a rerouting scheme and traffic advisory. The city administration has been actively coordinating with the police to guarantee the safety and security of all participants.
The Chinese-Filipino community in Manila deserves special recognition for their invaluable contributions to the celebration. Many community members have volunteered to shoulder the expenses associated with organizing the activities, demonstrating their deep commitment to preserving and promoting their rich cultural heritage.
Binondo’s Chinatown is not only a place of celebration but also a vibrant destination for locals and tourists alike. With its rich history, diverse food choices, and historical establishments, it has become a popular attraction in Manila. Visitors can indulge in a wide range of culinary delights, explore its historical landmarks, and immerse themselves in the unique blend of Chinese and Filipino cultures.
As the Chinese New Year approaches, Manila’s Binondo Chinatown is poised to offer an unforgettable experience to all those who join in the celebration. With its vibrant atmosphere, rich traditions, and warm hospitality, it is a testament to the enduring spirit of unity and cultural diversity that defines the Philippines. So, mark your calendars and be part of this grand celebration in the heart of Manila.
Source: The Manila Times