Binondo and Chinese New Year


Me and Tricia with the dragon

It was that time of the year where people from all walks of life converge upon the little street known as Binondo. Chinese New Year in this part of Manila becomes a Mecca of all things chinese. The entire stretch of Ongpin and its adjacent streets are flooded with dragon dances and fireworks.


The throng of people in Binondo 


Feeling Roman in Chinatown

After visiting the national museum it was just right for my friends and I to visit Binondo and experience what a Filipino-style Chinese New Year looks like. Getting off near the Carriedo fountain I was amazed at the number of people making their way inside. Lines of people on one side trying to get tikoy and ampaos of something.


The Eng Bee Tin dragons

As we traversed the main street heading deeper into Binondo we were astounded by the number of people inside. It felt like Divisoria during the Christmas season. Making our way around Chinatown we were greeted by a wide variety of smells, sights and sounds. The volume of people in Binondo meant that my friends and I wouldn’t be able to eat in the signature Chinese restaurants that we’ve been reading so much about.


Waiting for Mayor Erap and Vice-Mayor Isko as they pass by their supporters.


Despite that setback, just being there was already an enjoyable experience. Every street had its own party and every corner seemed to have a surprise waiting for you. In some streets there would be shops setting up their fireworks, others would have mini parades where lion and dragon dances would enter shops and drive away all the bad spirits for the year. In one corner, we found ourselves lighting incense and praying in front of a very “Chinese Jesus”, a sight I wouldn’t expect from a very rich Chinese community.

With the sun setting it felt like there was no end to the festivities. There were live music bands and people peddling siopao and siomai in the street. There were also a number of people inside Lucky Chinatown mall, which to our dismay meant that we wouldn’t get to eat in a traditional Chinese restaurant. So we ended up eating to China’s next door neighbor, Japan, and helping ourselves to katsu.



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