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Isko cancels Chinese New Year outdoor festivities

Isko Moreno
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno leads the Dragon Eye-Dotting and Ringing of the Gong in celebration of the Chinese New Year (Metal Ox) at Lucky Chinatown in Binondo, Manila. With him are officers of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) led by its president, Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong and PGFLEX CEL Nelson Guevarra, FFCCCII External Affairs chairman. Photo by JONJON C. REYES

MEMBERS of the Chinese-Filipino community will be ushering is the ‘Year of the Metal Ox’ at midnight today in a somber manner, marked by traditions that do not go against the health protocols being imposed by the national and local governments.

Chinese New Year’s Day is on Friday, February 12.

Isko Moreno
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno leads the Dragon Eye-Dotting and Ringing of the Gong in celebration of the Chinese New Year (Metal Ox) at Lucky Chinatown in Binondo, Manila. With him are officers of the
Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) led by its president, Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong and PGFLEX CEL Nelson Guevarra, FFCCCII External Affairs chairman. Photo by JONJON C. REYES

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno had cancelled all outdoor activities related to the said occasion so that the perennially-busy Chinatown area in Ongpin, Manila which used to be abuzz with various activities to mark the event, will no longer hold witness to the daylong colorful dragon and lion dances in the streets.

Instead, people now troop there to buy items or things in accordance with age-old beliefs and practices. The cancellation of all activities is due to the prohibition on huge mass gatherings which pose the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Gerie Chua, whose popular Eng Bee Tin flagship store located in the heart of Chinatown is now being run by his children Gerik, Gerald and Geraldyn.

Eng Bee Tin has been part of the annual celebration over the years due to the products they offer which are a ‘must’ on tables during Chinese New Year’s eve and day.

Chua said certain beliefs will still be practiced such as putting on the dinner table various kinds of food that are believed to invite good luck.

His stores nationwide carry such special products that are sought for as requisites to be atop the table if you want to invite fortune into your home.

Gerie shared some of the beliefs, practices and rituals that are done and which continue to be observed, these days, even by non-Chinese Filipinos.

Tsinoys pay homage to their gods by visiting Chinese temples where they express gratitude for the blessings of the past year and wish for another good year.

Preoccupations of the day among Tsinoys, he said, would include getting a haircut –supposedly to rid oneself of the past year’s badluck- and settling all debts to start the new year with a clean slate.

Sweeping of homes, Chua said, should be avoided in order to keep the luck within. Cleaning, if needed at all, must be made before the New Year’s eve.

Dining tables meanwhile, must be filled with foods that symbolize affluence such as steamed whole fish or carp–with its tail unbroken or uncut — and pork, as the new year comes in.

Also considered as a `must’ on the dining table is `tikoy’ since its roundness, stickiness and sweetness are, as commonly believed, certain to bring about luck, unity and harmony among the household members for the whole year.

For the purpose of covering all that is wished for, Chua’s store offers an abundance of colored tikoy among them yellow, violet and green, whose colors in itself signify prosperity and luck.

Even the eight kinds of fruits which should be placed atop the tables must be mostly yellow, aside from being round and sweet.

Chua said another must-have on the table is the `huat kee’ or `fortune cake’ which are both believed to invite abundance into one’s home, along with the pineapple which signifies `ong lai’ which, when translated literally, would mean “luck, come in”.

Bright-colored garments such as red, yellow or green must be worn on New Yer’s Day and black is a definite `no-no’.

Sharing tea and handing over boxes of `tikoy or small red envelopes or `angpao’ containing money is widely believed to bring good luck to the giver.

It is also believed that an auspicious year awaits those who will exchange greetings of “Kung Hei Fat Choi!” or ‘Kung Hei Fat Chai!’

More important than all such traditional beliefs and practices, Chua stressed, is for one not to forget doing good deeds whenever the opportunity presents itself, not only on Chinese New Year but all year round.

True to this, proceeds of his restaurants `Café Mezzanine’ and Chuan Kee being co-managed by son Gerik and which offers traditional soups and medicinal concoctions as specialties, are used to fund the needs of volunteer firefighters just like himself.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight