If I'm not mistaken it was the very first time that our country, or in this case, our government declared the day of the Chinese New Year a holiday. And since Ongpin or Manila's Chinatown is just a few minutes away from our home, I spent my work-less, holiday Monday here and join the fun and festivity of this year's Chinese New Year.
When I was a kid, my family and I used to dine here and enjoy some delectable Chinese food. Those foods were can only be found in this crowded yet very homey place, so I didn't wonder why a lot of people that time really go here just to taste some authentic Chinese food.
If there's one place in Manila that visitors should see, I believe Ongpin should be on that list because in here you'll certainly see how the two cultures, Filipino and Chinese, blended so well.
Last Monday, I got to Ongpin around 4 in the afternoon, just in time for the Manila's Chinese New Year Grand Parade. You see, having a Filipino-Chinese mayor has some used. Hehe.
Spearheaded by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and some big names from the Chinese community of Manila who I really dunno, the parade was also attended by students from different Manila-base Chinese schools ushered with dragon and lion dancers to bring luck to all the spectators.
From little kids to adult, from Filipino to Chinese to Europeans and Americans, Ongpin Street was full of different kinds of people from different walks of life bearing smile and bags of items that they just bought from the lines of lucky charms stalls that you can find in here.
I personally enjoyed buying some stuff there since the prices were really affordable. Not that I'm an avid fan of luck and Feng Shui, but most of the items there were kinda fashionista, which I really like. And also I got to enjoy taking photographs of most of the items that they sell because they are so colorful and fun to look at.
From dragon figurines, charmed bracelets, lucky coins, trinkets and many more, tourists got to indulge to some Chinese charms, rituals and even got some free star reading from the store owners.
Aside from those, tikoy and other Chinese New Year delicacies were to find. I saw these uniquely decorated tikoys, which according to the store owners symbolizes luck, since it was a tikoy made to look like pineapple and the other one as two fishes in yin and yang position.
My favorite, Eng Bee Tin hopias and siopaos were also swamped by Chinese food lovers that day. Thank God I still able to buy something for my mother. Hehe.
On my way to the other side of Ongpin Street, I saw these scenes where a lot of people, Filipino and Filipino-Chinese were eagerly pushing themselves to take an incense and to pray to the crucifix in front of them. A note on the side says to take an incense, say your wish and place the incense in front of the crucifix. Huh.
While on the other side of the street, I saw a wall with these zodiac signs readings. I was born on the year of pig says the paper there, and as I read through it, it reminded me to take good care of my stuff because I'll be close to robbery or theft. Scary!
On my back to Plaza Sta. Cruz, where I'll be taking my ride back home, I saw the newscaster Mike Enriquez who was busy interviewing some locals and tourists, probably preparing his report for his night news show. Hehe. In fairness, he was nice spending time for photo ops with his fans. Hehe.
Before I finally leave Ongpin Street, I visited one more stall where I saw this nice looking bracelet.
Unlike the other charmed bracelets that I saw earlier, this one was kept inside the shelf. I asked the saleslady who was tending the store that time and she said that this one is quite expensive because the stone or beads of this bracelets are kinda belong to the higher class. When I asked for the price, I was quite shocked to know that it cost Php1,000. Haha! It's pretty though, plus the saleslady told me that it's a complete luck-gatherer. I think I'll just go back here if I'm already lucky to have that php1,000 to spend on a bracelet. Hehe.
Before hailing a jeep, I dropped by to Sta. Cruz Church and I was really amazed to see the church adorned with these Chinese lanterns and lucky charms. I guess the church is really embarrassing openness now, eh?
Happy Chinese New Year to my Filipino, Chinese and Filipino-Chinese readers and friends!
Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!
May this year of the water dragon be prosperous and peaceful!