Biggest Pagoda
Manila City Administrator Bernardito 'Bernie' Ang (middle) discusses the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration at the 'MACHRA Balitaan sa Harbor View' forum of the Manila City Hall Reporters' Association, where he was joined by(from left) MACHRA President Itchie G. Cabayan, Manila Chinatown Development Council executive director Willord Chua, Manila Chinatown Barangay Organization (MCBO) President Jefferson Lau and MACHRA Vice President Andi Garcia. (JERRY S. TAN)

IN about a year’s time, expect Manila to become among the top tourist destinations in the country, as the construction of a gargantuan and beautiful ‘Pagoda’ that will be as tall as an 18-storey building is now underway.

This was announced by Manila City Administrator Bernardito ‘Bernie’ Ang at the ‘MACHRA Balitaan sa Harbor View’ forum of the Manila City Hall Reporters’ Association, where he also laid out the planned activities of the local government for the twin celebration of the Manila Chinatown’s 430th anniversary and the Chinese New Year, which he said will be highlighted by a 12-minute colorful fireworks display and a grand parade in the Chinatown area and which is expected to draw an estimated crowd of up to one million.

Ang, who is the one on top of the preparations for the said occasion, was joined in the forum by Manila Chinatown Barangay Organization (MCBO) President Jefferson Lau and Manila Chinatown Development Council executive director Willord Chua, said that establishments in the whole Chinatown area are also being encouraged to participate in the affair by offering special discounts, since throngs are expected to visit the area to take part in the activities or even just as spectators.

According to Ang, a grand fireworks display will be held at the the new Filipino–Chinese Friendship Bridge or the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge at midnight of February 9, or the eve of the Chinese New Year which is on February 10, 2024. Apart from colorful lion dances in the streets of Ongpin, Ang said that the day will be highlighted by the traditional parade featuring 20 floats prepared by various Chinese-Filipino organizations and that along the way, they will be giving away red envelopes or ‘angpao,’ which is believed to bring good luck both to the giver and the receiver.

It was learned from Chua that a rerouting scheme and traffic advisory will be issued by the Manila Police District’s traffic bureau to guide the motorists, saying huge crowds are expected to be drawn to the Chinatown events with the taking down of restrictions related to the pandemic. The grand parade will begin behind the Post Office area and will end at the Lucky Chinatown.

Chua shared that the said mall has invited celebrity guests for a free show as an added treat for those who will be visiting the Chinatown on New Year’s Day.

Ang told the forum that Mayor Honey Lacuna expresses thanks as the Chinese-Filipino community in Manila have volunteered to foot the bill on the lined up activities so that the events will be carried out at no expense to the city.

Lau meanwhile said the MCBO is overseeing the construction of the Pagoda which is located at Tetuan Street beside Gandara Street and that once finished, it is expected to draw even more crowds to the Chinatown area.

The city administrator shared that during the initial stages of the construction, live snakes were found in a watery portion of the excavation, which, he said, is a lucky sign based on Chinese beliefs.

A pagoda is a temple or memorial with a deep cultural and religious meaning mostly for the Chinese who go there to pay respects to the Gods or worship, among other functions.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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