Monday, 8 February 2016

"ChinaTown Ramblings"

"ChinaTown Ramblings"

(or how this person enjoyed the Lunar New Year)

In Chinese culture, the Lunar New year is a time for celebrating good luck and happiness, all with great abundance as evidenced by a shower of surprises to family, friends, as well as to the community.

From fireworks, dragon and lion dances, and looking for countless good luck mementos, that event has been a series of photoshoots enough to fill the albums in various social media accounts, while others tend to visit temples all for thanksgiving followed by a dinner treat be it a simple noodle and dumpling, or a lauriat feast with Chinese Fried Chicken, Peking Duck, and Fried Rice along with a cup or glass of tea.

And as the new dawn brings hope and aspiration for everyone, this person shared his experience in enjoying that event from the World's oldest Chinatown known as Binondo, in the City of Manila.

At first, he visited the Te Ya Kong Taoist Temple, where he, alike any other people inside offered thanks to the deities, placed burning joss sticks in every urn intended to every deity inside, and then drank ginger brew which is offered free to its devotees and visitors alike outside the temple proper, in a manner similar to the Sikh Langars, with he drinking two cups of it enough to quench his thirst if not to have least in his tummy.

The Cross of Sto. Cristo de Longos
After visiting the temple, he went to the Sto. Cristo de Longos cross near Binondo Church, wherein Filipinos and Chinese alike venerated as what they say "its wish granting properites". And although it is meant to be for the Catholic Christians, the cross has been a part of religious syncretism of both Hispanic Christianity and Chinese Taoism, wherein Chinese Christians rather placed joss sticks in the urn instead of candles in the candle rack. The Sto. Cristo de Longos cross is to the Chinese-Filipino Christians as to the Nazarene to the brown-skinned folk.

Inside Lan Zhou La Mien
(source: Flikr)

But life within that holiday spree is incomplete without food. Somewhere at Chinatown there's a noodle house known for hand pulled noodles. Lately, Binondo has a lot of small Chinese restaurants that are opened by newly arrived mainland Chinese immigrants. The food they serve, whether coming from North or South, is refreshingly authentic according to the region they come from, yet with unbelievably cheap prices.
Along with some friends, a bowl of Beef Noodles hath been served as well as steamed dumplings and a pumpkin 'hopia' cake. Sadly, this person didn't took a picture of steamed dumplings aside from that Beef soup whose noodles is hand pulled. Perhaps the people behind that establishment is seriously continuing a tradition of making noodles using one's talent than the usual machine-made in certain noodle houses at Chinatown. 

And since evening comes and everyone is still enjoying the festivities, the world's oldest Chinatown made everyone, full-blooded or not, Filipino or foreign, having profound memories be it from the goods they bought or the selfies they caught. It is like any other holiday, happened to be reserved for the Chinese like Hari Raya Puasa for the Muslims, but since they are also Filipinos, then why not be celebrated by fellow Filipinos as well? After all, they lived in the country for years, and most of them spoke the language such as Filipino!
Also to think  that despite brewing tensions between two countries over disputed islands like Scarbrough and Spratlys, of hearing various rants and brouhahas in social media sites, of cold war hysterias two and fro against a fellow Asiatic, should not also mean disregard, of not attack the traditions of those who had settled in their adapted homeland for good, whose blood has somewhat invigorated alongside the Hispanic and the Anglo-Saxon; and despite having a different language and culture, has trying to remain a part of a country's way of life, in a way everyone has putting joss sticks at the Longos cross and having Binondo Church stood in that once called ghetto having Taoist or Buddhist temples.

Also to think that from the prominent to the ordinary, these people, be it full blooded or intermarried with the natives, has somehow adds life in a way everyone ate fried noodles to fill up their hunger-panging stomachs and engaging in fengshui in search of a flow of endless prosperity. People like Jose Rizal, the brothers Luna, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Sergio Osmeña, and some of well-known heroes has Chinese blood. While Ma Mon Luk, Ignacio Pawa, Carlos Palanca of La Tondeña were full-blooded Chinese, Yet they chose to remain Filipino with all their lives. These people, despite having ancestors coming from different lands, chose to remain a contributor in the country's development, be it culture, politics, economy, and social affairs. 

Gong Xi Fa Cai.