Joining the celebration of the Lunar New Year, President Aquino thanked the Chinese-Filipino community for its vital contributions to the country’s resilient economic growth.
The President recognized that Chinese-Filipinos are a “treasured component” of the nation which currently sees an economic resurgence under his watch.
“The strong, resilient and vibrant country that we are today is powered by our multifaceted milieu,” the President said in a message on the celebration of the Lunar New Year yesterday, Feb. 8.
In Binondo, Manila, police said more than a million people gathered to celebrate New Year’s Eve in one of the oldest Chinatown communities in the world. The center of the celebration was in Ongpin Street where the crowds started to gather in the late afternoon to shop, dine and wait for midnight to welcome the Year of the Fire Monkey with a grand fireworks display.
“Let us rejoice in the stable environment that has allowed us to harness this multiplicity of talents and perspectives towards our resurgence, and continue to foster it as a foundation of a truly progressive and inclusive Philippines for all of our people,” Aquino said.
Aquino said he wishes the Chinese-Filipino community “happiness, prosperity and good health” for the coming year.
He acknowledged that the dynamic heritage of Chinese-Filipinos adds depth and vibrancy to the country’s history. “Your contributions are as far as reaching as they are varied; your unique culture has become part of our collective identity as Filipinos,” he added.
In 2011, President Aquino issued a proclamation declaring the Chinese New Year as a special non-working holiday. Aquino said the celebration was a manifestation of the nation’s solidarity with Chinese-Filipinos who have been part of its lives.
Joining the celebration was Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada who hailed the Chinese organizations that helped the city government in organizing the grand celebration that also saw the unity of the various organizations among such groups in the Binondo district.
“For the third straight year, we are using the occasion of the Chinese new year to celebrate our unity and solidarity. It remains a great source of pride and pleasure to remember the very first solidarity dinner that we had in 2014, because it was the first such event jointly celebrated by the local government of Manila, and the entire Filipino Chinese community. That event sealed our unity and set the tone for these past two years of joint initiatives, continuing dialogue, cooperation, and a shared commitment to reclaim and restore Manila’s old glory,” Estrada said yesterday before the start of the grand parade that begun at Lawton area and ended in Ongpin street in Binondo.
Police estimated the crowd in Binondo yesterday at about 1.5 million, not an exaggerated number, Superintendent Romeo Macapaz, chief of Binondo police emphasized.
Some of the Binondo merchants and Chinese organizations who participated in the Chinese New year parade include: the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., Philippine Chinese Charitable Association, Overseas Chinese Alumni Association of the Philippines, Hong Kong chamber of commerce of the Philippines, Philippine Jinjiang General Association, Inc., Filipino Chinese Shin Lian Association, Filioino Chinese General chamber of commerce, Sun Life Financial, Lucky Chinatown, Noble Place, Carelink health services, Dragon 8, Pacific Center, Meteo Gaisano, Rai Rai Ken and LBC.
The electric tricycle which will soon ply the Chinatown district made its debut at the parade. Estrada rode one of the 30 r-trikes that will be utilized in the Binondo area.
TOURISTS IN CHINATOWN
In Chinatown, two performers entertained the crowds with their songs in front of a supermarket; vendors sold a wide variety of lucky charms, monkey figures, “tikoy” which is a popular food item given as gifts during the season. A giant “tikoy” measuring 36 inches in diameter and weighing more than 300 pounds, was the center of attraction in a food store where a long line had queued just to see it.
At close to midnight, the drums and the gongs sounded, the traditional dragon dance came alive, and colorful fireworks exploded in the sky to welcome the coming of the Year of the Fire Monkey. (With a report from Argyll Geducos)