By Mariela Angella Oladive
Iloilo City is buzzing with anticipation as it is set to kick off one of the “grandest” celebrations this year, the Chinese New Year.
The festivities will commence today, February 6, promising a week-long showcase of cultural events, parades, and shows, under the theme “Harmony in Blossom: 20 Years of Cultivating Filipino-Chinese Unity.”
Peter Chan, the chairperson of the Chinese New Year 2024 task force, expressed excitement about the celebration, deeming it ‘the grandest ever.’
During the event’s press launch, Chan emphasized the significance of the enduring relationship between the Filipino-Chinese community and Ilonggos, attributing their collaboration to the success and development of the city.
“We don’t only look for the outward manifestations of this celebration… but to the essence of it– the humanity side of it, which is the mutual understanding, the community working together would have realized the essence of the ‘unity’—the true meaning of Chinese New Year,” Chan stated.
Ryan Allan Tan, President of the Iloilo Festival Foundation Inc. (IFFI) emphasized the importance of honoring the traditions that bridge both Filipino and Chinese cultures, fostering unity and prosperity among communities.
“We gather not only to celebrate the year of the Dragon but also to recognize the significance of this cultural celebration to us, Ilonggos,” he said.
For the first time in two decades, the Iloilo Scholastic Academy (ISA), a Filipino-Chinese school located in Mandurriao, Iloilo City, is hosting the celebration.
Chan, who is also the ISA Executive Director, expressed the school’s commitment to making the event a resounding success, acknowledging the collaborative efforts of various sectors.
He highlighted the school’s dedication to investing time, effort, and energy to ensure the celebration’s resounding success, emphasizing the collaborative efforts of various sectors.
City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas, in a press conference on Monday, said everything is ‘all set’ and invited everyone to partake in the celebration, acknowledging the significant contributions of the Filipino-Chinese community to the city’s development.
He noted the substantial employment opportunities and faster city development resulting from their active involvement in businesses.
The celebration, considered the biggest outside Metro Manila, features a diverse lineup of activities.
Among the highlights of this year’s celebration is the Quanzhou string puppetry, set to perform five stories in eight shows at the West Visayas State University Cultural Center on Feb. 10-11. The life-size puppets, sponsored by the city’s sister city in China, promise to bring excitement to Ilonggos.
The celebration’s schedule also includes various events such as a photo exhibit, grand parade, cultural show, food festival, and fireworks display.
The festivities will culminate with a Chinese New Year Thanksgiving Mass and a closing ceremony on February 11.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has declared February 9 a special non-working day nationwide to allow Filipinos to celebrate the Chinese New Year and enjoy an extended weekend. The proclamation aims to give people the opportunity to fully engage in the festivities and appreciate the cultural significance of this revered event.
As the city eagerly anticipates a week of vibrant celebrations, Iloilo City prepares to usher in the Year of the Dragon with unity, prosperity, and a deep appreciation for the rich cultural heritage shared between the Filipino and Chinese communities.
For a detailed schedule of activities, please refer to the provided list.
3:00 PM Opening of the Chinese New Year Celebration, SM City Iloilo Event Center, Main Mall
4:00 PM Opening of the Chinese New Year Cultural Exhibit, SM City Iloilo, North Point
Mall Hours (10 am- 10 pm, Chinese New Year Cultural Exhibit, SM City Iloilo, North Point
3:00 PM Chinese New Year Mall Show (Iloilo Scholastic Academy) SM City Iloilo Event Center, Main Mall
3:00 PM Quanzhou Puppet Show Preview, SM City Iloilo Event Center, Main Mall
Quanzhou Puppet Show Preview, Indoor Atrium, Festive Walk Mall
11:30 AM Chinese New Year Food Festival, Iloilo Chinatown
4:00 PM Chinese New Year Grand Parade, Provincial Capitol to Iloilo Chinatown
5:00 PM Chinese New Year Grand Cultural Show and Fireworks Display,
Filipino – Chinese Friendship Arch
Quanzhou Puppet Show Full Performance
WVSU Cultural Center
Chinese New Year Mall Shows
(Hua Siong College of lloilo and Sun Yat Sen High School)
SM City Iloilo Event Center, Main Mall and Indoor Atrium, Festive Walk Mall
8:00 AM Chinese New Year Thanksgiving Mass (Sta. Maria Chinese- Filipino Parish
5:00 PM Chinese New Year Closing Ceremony
Park Square, Festive Walk Parad (in Front of ILOMOCA)