January 23, 2012

gung hei fat choi.. the binondo walk


the chinese new year, also known as the "spring festival", happens every first full moon after the 12th winter solstice moon. it is during the chinese new year when chinese families have their reunion dinner called the "eve of the passing year" or chu xi when they eat sticky rice cakes called nian gao or "tikoy" as we call it in filipino and fortune cakes called huat ke. the chinese people believe that eating these food will bring luck and cohesiveness in the family for the entire year. this event is ended by another event called the "lantern festival" which is 15 days after.

for those who doesn't know yet, binondo is the oldest china town in the world and was established in 1594 to keep unconverted and converted chinese immigrants, their filipino wives and children and the spaniards' filipino wives and children near the walls of intramuros. today, binondo is a hub businesses of filipino and filipino-chinese people and it is where chinese new year is mostly celebrated in the country.


i did not spend a single peso for food as someone treated us for late lunch but 200 to 300 pesos will already give you a hearty meal. less than a thousand pesos for commute, food and souvenirs is a good sum if you are not extravagant. during this day, i had to buy some stuff for the family, friends and for myself that's why i spent quite a lot. nonetheless, here are my expenses for the celebration.

42.00 = bus ride from las pinas to sta cruz
600.00 = 4 pieces of huat ke. 150 per cake
450.00 = 3 pieces of chinese stress balls
42.00 = bus ride from las pinas to sta cruz


for southern people:
ride a bus going to sta cruz. if you can't find one, ride a bus or fx going to lawton and from lawton, ride a jeepney going to sta cruz.

for northern people: 
from edsa corner ortigas, ride a bus going to quiapo. usually these buses are the ones traveling from cainta passing thru ortigas. from quezon city, there are plenty of buses and fx cabs going to quiapo. from quiapo walk your way to avenida (this is the only way i know going to the place) passing through quiapo church and through the  to get to sta cruz.

from sta cruz, you will see the filipino and chinese friendship arch. pass through it and start walking.


i had an open itinerary for this event. january 22, 2012 was the eve of chinese new year. festivities start later in the afternoon which is opened by dragon and lion street dances. on the said date, the first china town pedestrian show was held with performances from filipino-chinese and friends of different ages. there are still festivities on the 23rd but i wasn't able to attend them.


there are times when you intentionally leave your camera at home but suddenly find yourself lost in a picture-perfect event, as for my case, chinese new year festivities at ongpin. despite of it, i had my itouch with me but i only limited the shots to a few photos as i have stored a lot of apps and songs already. at that time, my only agenda was to meet a few friends, who one of them celebrating her birthday at manosa. as i waited for them to arrive from quezon circle, i walked the streets and took photos then frustration hits me... damn i did i leave me camera at home!

while i waited, i witnessed dragon and lion dances, watched the chinese orchestra, ... basically, i just walked around to see stuff. since i was frustrated and all, i was deleting more photos than keeping them. it really sucks not to bring my dlsr as it has always been my eye for such occasions. to ease myself off the frustration, i called my friend ronald and told him that i'll go to lao zhou la mien to reserve seats for us but the place was jam packed with a lot of people. so i called him back again and ask for another place and he suggested manosa. at manosa, i was welcomed by a long line of people with the guard and store owner giving priority to chinese customers. i'm glad that my chinese-like features fooled them in spite of me wearing black and i was given priority to save seats good for 8 people. three lion dances have passed, my friends came but still there are no seats for our number. it was after 30 minutes when we get to have our seats and had our orders taken.

in binondo, if there's one thing you have to remember about food is that they give huge servings. one food is equal to 2 pinoy servings unless you are very hungry or just have a bog appetite. but since most of us are hungry at that time, we swept everything. manosa is famous for their maki (not the japanese food), which is steamed pork in thick broth, and their tennis ball-sized siomai. 

before going home, we watched the chinese pedestrian show where we have seen performances from students of chinese schools such as st stephen's college and chiang kai shek college and also people from different chinese organizations. we were told by the people there that the show ends at midnight so we left at 20:00.

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