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Top Manila Officials Light Up Fil-Chi Friendship Arch in Chinatown

Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch
Mayor Honey Lacuna, City Administrator Bernie Ang and Vice Mayor Yul Servo discuss the details of the new, wonderfully-lit Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch in Binondo. (JERRY S. TAN)

THE gargantuan colorful Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch in Chinatown is now even made more beautiful with the installation of 800 lights that change in hues every few seconds, making it the newest Instagrammable spot in Manila.

Mayor Honey Lacuna, Vice Mayor Yul Servo and city administrator Bernie Ang led in opening to the public the newly-rehabilitated arch h in Binondo, home of the world’s biggest Chinatown.

Lacuna, in her message, urged more migrant Chinese and Filipino-Chinese to visit and invest in Manila, as well as help redevelop and revive the ‘majestic Manila Chinatown.’

She said that complementing the newly-lit up arch is the Manila Tourism Development Plan that the city government officially launched recently, spearheaded by tourism director Charlie Dungo. The plan involves the proposed redevelopment of Hub 2 comprising Binondo, Escolta and San Nicolas.

“Our Chinatown continues to draw thousands or even millions of both local and foreign tourists every year because of those authentic Chinese restaurants that offers popular dimsum and noodles, peking ducks and century eggs and of course Binondo remains famous for its gold and jewelry stores,” Lacuna said.

Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch
The celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, or ‘Mooncake Festival’in Manila, was led by (8th from right) Mayor Honey Lacuna, Vice Mayor Yul Servo and City Administrator Bernie Ang (seated). With them on stage were (right) barangay chairman and Manila Chinatown Barangay Organization president Jeff Lau, (third from right) Manila City Council committee on international relations, second district Councilor Uno Lim; (5th from right)Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Incorporated external affairs director Nelson Guevarra; third district Councilor Terrence Alibarbar (behind Ang) and (from Lacuna’s right) Cultural Counselor Li Wei of the Chinese Embassy; Filipino Chinese Youth Business Association head Andrew Ong; (7th fr. left) Fil-Chi Youth Business Association Founding President Peter Zhuang; third district Congressman Joel Chua; and third district Councilors Fa Fugoso, Apple Nieto and Tol Zarcal, among others. (JERRY S. TAN)

The event, which kicked off the celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the ‘Moon Festival’ or the ‘Mooncake Festival’, was also graced by third district Congressman Joel Chua; Manila City Council committee on international relations, second district Councilor Uno Lim; third district Councilors Terrence Alibarbar, Tol Zarcal, Fa Fugoso and Apple Nieto; Minister-Counsellor of the Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China in the Philippines Wang Yui; Fil-Chi Youth Business Association Founding President Peter Zhuang; Filipino Chinese Youth Business Association head Andrew Ong; Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Incorporated Executive Vice President Dante Chua and external affairs director Nelson Guevarra; Chen Qiutu of Shanghai; barangay chairman and Manila Chinatown Barangay Organization president Jeff Lau and Cultural Counselor Li Wei of the Chinese Embassy.

Considered to be the second most important festival in China next to the Chinese New Year, the celebration is marked by the lighing of the said arch, which tells visitors that they they are already entering Chinatown and which now sports a new look with the installation of colorful lights that change hues every few seconds.

Ang said that the FCYBAI has volunteered to beautify, maintain and preserve the iconic arch, using about 800 bulbs that will last for at least three to five years. The arch itself was donated by Chan Chau To of Shanghai, China.

“Binondo is a historical district of this magnificent city, the City of Manila. Known to be the hub of Chinese commerce even before the Spanish colonization. This is the center of commerce and trade of Manila, where all types of business run by Filipino-Chinese thrive. And this is where one of the oldest Chinatown in the world was established. Celebrating the Tourism month this September and at the same time the Mid-Autumn Festival, we find it very timely to light up this Fil-Chi Friendship Gate,” Lacuna said in her message.

“The bridge was built when our country’s relations with China was at its worst, as a way of showing that the friendship between the two countries remains steadfast and that mutual respect will always be there,” Ang said.

The Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch, Ang added, was erected in 2015 at a time when Philippine-China relations were being strained by claims of ownership of the South China sea or the West Philippine Sea, to serve as a symbol of and testament to the Philippines-China relations that dates back to over 2,000 years.

“The bridge was built when our country’s relations with China was at its worst, as a way of showing that the friendship between the two countries remains steadfast and that mutual respect will always be there,” Ang said.

For his part, Guevarra said: “The lights are symbolic of a brighter and more vibrant Manila after more than two years of pandemic. Our Chinatown attracts thousands of tourists every year and this Friendship Gate with its new lights will be another main tourist attraction in Manila, encouraging more tourists to revisit our city.“

He also said that Manila is truly blessed to have dynamic leaders who are working very hard to serve the residents and the city’s business community with such fervor.

“The business sector is very glad with the business-friendly policies of Manila and our good Mayor is very approachable. I can attest to this personally,” Guevarra said, as he expressed the gratitude of the Filipino-Chinese community and business owners in the city for all the support they have been getting from the lady mayor.

“Our Federation shall continue to serve as a bridge in promoting business linkages, friendship and goodwill among our people. Let’s continue to work together to achieve greater progress,” he added.

The Mid-Autumn Festival started in China more than 3,000 years ago. Today, overseas Chinese communities like our Filipino Chinese community, continues to observe this festivity, mostly with mooncakes, and to celebrate our rich cultural heritage.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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