(Feature) Filipinos embrace Chinese New Year spirit with charms, food and fireworks

February 21, 2015 12:28 am 

By Azer N. Parrocha

MANILA, Feb 19 (PNA) — With paper lanterns hung out to appreciate and round-shaped food set on the table, there’s no denying that the Chinese New Year celebration is still a huge deal to many Filipinos, whether with Chinese ancestry or not.

As oldest Chinatown district in the world, Binondo instantly turns into a destination for tourists aspiring to experience its history and heritage if not simply take photos of landmarks or taste authentic Chinese cuisine.

Norquiza Tapang who visited Binondo on the eve of Chinese New Year on Wednesday, does not have Chinese blood but was there to shop for round fruits, siomai, siopao and tikoy to serve her kids.

“I went to Binondo to eat with family at Waiying, a Chinese restaurant known for its pork dimsum, noodles, and siomai,” she said.

“At the same time, I went there to buy tikoy since Chinese believe it as a symbol for a close family,” she said, referring to the famous sticky glutinous rice cakes usually fried with egg and given as gifts.

Tikoy is a word adapted from the Hokkien or Fujian words ti (sweet) and ke (cake).

She also admitted that she also purchases lucky charms since there’s no harm in wanting to attract positive energy, regardless if it’s effective or not, it still looks nice as décor.

Although practically 25 percent Chinese, medicine student Jestin Yao who was born in the Philippines says he was raised the Filipino way.

“My grandfather is pure Chinese but lived in Pampanga with his family for as long as I remember,” Yao said. “It’s a very Filipino household where I grew up.”

Yao stressed that despite having Chinese blood, celebrating the Chinese New Year was pretty much a regular day in their household.

“During the Chinese New Year we don't really do anything special. We only celebrate the actual New Year,” he said. “Just because we’re ‘chinito’ doesn’t make us fall to the Chinoy stereotype.”

“You’d be surprised to know that most dancers underneath the lion and dragon dance tails are Filipinos, not really Chinese or Chinese-Filipino,” he added.

Yao said that despite feeling more Filipino than Chinese, he loves everything about getting to be both, especially when it comes to eating his favorite Filipino-Chinese dishes such as beef brisket noodle soup.


Chinese immigrants who came to the Philippines have made it a point to keep the tradition of celebrating the grandest event in their Lunar calendar among even extended relatives.

Born in the Philippines but raised by Chinese parents, Ferdinand Rañola married his Filipino wife, Maricon and has since then, lived and raised a family in the country but preserving their Chinese culture just the same.

Both business owners, Ferdinand and Maricon keep the tradition alive by making it a point to have lion and dragon dances in their offices to “ward off evil spirits” as well as entertain employees.

“From placing a bowl of round fruits, uncooked rice and gold coins on the table to hanging red lanterns and distributing crispy bills in red angpaos to give to the grandchildren, you name it,” Maricon said.


Chinese restaurants are always crowded during the Chinese New Year celebration the same way resort hotels are during summer vacation since it sets the perfect mood for merrymaking in the spirit of the holidays.

Quarry Bay, a newly-opened Chinese restaurant in Concepcion, Malabon City is expecting more customers and has already prepared for the occasion by putting up extra lanterns, offerings and will also be bringing out fireworks.

The restaurant will also be selling tikoy for the first time, which are priced at Php80 (small) and Php130 (large).

Quarry Bay was (named after) the area beneath Mount Parker in Hong Kong,” Abuel said. “Malabon is our pioneering branch but we are planning to expand it by the end of 2015.”

Sieg Abuel, supervisor and acting restaurant manager said that Quarry Bay is a family business that stemmed from the idea of putting up a restaurant in the heart of the city that served delicious but reasonably-priced food choices.

Abuel, who is 25 percent Chinese, said that the restaurant will mark its first year anniversary on May 18. (PNA)



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