Bracing for the Chinese New Year

By Herbert Vego

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has, through Proclamation No. 453, declared the forthcoming Friday, February 9, 2024, a special non-working day for the advance celebration of the Chinese New Year which will fall on Saturday, Feb. 10. We would then be availing ourselves of a longer weekend.

This early, let us greet each other, “Kung hei fat choi.”

Now showing in grocery stores is the Chinese New Year cake, tikoy. The sticky round delicacy – made of glutinous rice, flour, sugar and water – is sweet, thus symbolizing sweet relationships. Its roundness attracts money or good luck.

Expect more people to go out in red t-shirts, consistent with the belief that the color red attracts energy, happiness and good luck.

It’s usually at the malls where I meet Chinese friends who give away ang pao (small red envelopes with paper bills) – their way of sharing good fortune and sending good luck to recipients. I would not refuse one if given, lest the giver be insulted.

It’s also at the malls where we witness the “Dragon and Lion” dances. In the Dragon dance, up to 50 people line up, hold sticks under dragon skin and wiggle to the beat of Chinese music. They are led by a man holding a dragon ball. The dragon was the symbol of the Chinese emperors’ power, wisdom and productivity.

The Lion dance requires two persons spaced apart, dressed in the shape of the four-legged dancing animal with wiggling ears and blinking eyes.

The date of the Chinese New Year varies every year in order to coincide with the new moon that appears between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20.

In China and Chinese communities, the Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the 15-day Spring Festival, during which all family members get together, just like Christmas in the Philippines.

Filipino culture has been influenced by prominent “Chinoys” – slang for Chinese-Filipino residents. Filipinos are known to partake in the celebration by means of having Chinese food and consulting fortune tellers for good luck.

Filipino-Chinese communities in the Philippines celebrate Chinese New Year every year, hoping to attract prosperity, closer family ties and peace. They clean their homes thoroughly, serve sweet foods and display various foods and fruits on a table to invite good fortune. People also participate in parades and dragon dances on the streets.

While it is unclear when the celebration of the New Year began in China, the most popular version is that it started as a religious ceremony during the Shang Dynasty (1766 BC – 1122 BC).

Each year in the Chinese zodiac is represented by one of 12 animals.  The present year 2024 is the Year of the Dragon, meant to bring the opportunity to focus on heart health, both physically and emotionally. The dragon — unique for being the only mythical animal among the 12 — symbolizes good luck, strength and power.

Chinese fortune tellers speak well of 2024 as a year of fortune and luck – a great year to make money, and a good year to invest!

Those born in the Year of the Dragon, they say, possess captivating demeanor, distinct personality, and strong leadership abilities.

The Dragon is the fifth in the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese calendar. The others are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

-oOo-

MORE POWER IN THE LOVE MONTH

THE love month of February means a lot to MORE Electric and Power Corporation.

It was on Valentine’s Day – February 14, 2019 – when then President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law its 25 year-franchise (Republic Act No. 11212) as distribution utility (DU) for Iloilo City.

AThe turnover from the previous DU would have taken effect 15 days after Feb. 14. However, pending resolution of a court battle between the two, it was only on February 29, 2020 that MORE Power took over.

MORE Power President/CEO Roel Castro told the media, “I see this as an ever-growing industry. For as long as people need electricity, and people’s lifestyles are more dependent on electricity for gadgets, this industry will always have a place.”

Valentine’s Day 2024, therefore, heralds the 5th anniversary of the law granting the company its 25-year franchise.

Happy anniversary and more power to MORE Power.

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