Chinese New Year

Cagayan de Oro honors Chinese Filipinos with Lunar New Year festival

Froilan Gallardo
Cagayan de Oro honors Chinese Filipinos with Lunar New Year festival

CITY HALL PERFORMANCE. Performers stage a dragon dance in front of Cagayan de Oro City's seat of government on Tuesday, January 17.

Froilan Gallardo / Rappler

A parade, which features colorful floats and traditional Chinese costumes, marks the second day of the week-long festivities in the city ahead of the Chinese New Year

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – The loud rhythm of cymbals, gongs, and a huge drum accompanied performers of the dragon dance in front of the Cagayan de Oro’s seat of government on Tuesday, January 17.

A parade, which featured colorful floats and traditional Chinese costumes, marked the second day of the week-long festivities in the city ahead of the start of the Lunar New Year or the Chinese New Year.

It was highlighted by the dragon dance which was well-received by the crowd who cheered and took photos of the performance. For the Chinese, the traditional dance by a group that moved the silk and paper dragon in a serpentine manner to the rhythm of the drums and gongs symbolized good luck and prosperity.

LIGHT MOMENT. Cagayan de Oro Mayor Rolando Uy shares a light moment with dragon dance performers in front of city hall on Tuesday, January 17. – Froilan Gallardo / Rappler

Tuesday’s grand parade to greet the coming Year of the Rabbit started in front of city hall and ended at the Bell Church, a Chinese temple that is a major cultural site in Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro.

The week-long celebration will come to a close with a grand fireworks display at the Bell Church on the eve of the Lunar New Year on Saturday, January 21.

As part of the celebration, city hall employees will be treated to tours around the temple starting on Tuesday afternoon.

Cagayan de Oro information officer Ivy Guantero said the local government has teamed up with the Chinese-Filipino community here to greet the Lunar New Year with a week of festivities.

“We are hoping the Year of the Rabbit will usher prosperity and hope, and a rebound for the local business community. We are crossing our fingers, and wish that the rabbit will be kind to us this year,” Guantero said.

Guantero said the local business community, Chinese-Filipinos included, took a beating during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said there will be more dragon dance performances on major streets in the city throughout the week, and a dragon boat race – a popular traditional sport in China – is expected to draw a large crowd along the Cagayan River on Saturday.

Cagayan de Oro is known for its diverse culture and vibrant festivals, and the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit celebration is one of the most awaited events of the year.

Mayor Rolando Uy expressed the city government’s appreciation for the contributions of Chinese Filipinos, adding that they have long been an integral part of the city’s growth and development.

From small businesses to large-scale investments, the Chinese have played a significant role in shaping the local economy, he said.

Despite its relatively small size, the Chinese-Filipino community in Cagayan de Oro has made a significant impact on the city’s economy and culture.

They have established many successful businesses, and their contributions to Cagayan de Oro’s development have been recognized by the local government.

In terms of education, the local Chinese-Filipino community also established schools, such as Kong Hua School, to teach Chinese and culture to the next generation.

In Mindanao, grand celebrations are being held this week in cities with larger Chinese populations such as Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Zamboanga, and General Santos.

The merrymaking is characterized by lion and dragon dance performances, fireworks, parades, lantern displays, traditional Chinese music, cultural shows, and food festivals.

Uy said all these were a way to showcase Chinese culture and tradition and help bring Chinese and Filipino communities together, promoting understanding and appreciation for each other’s heritage. – Rappler.com

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