Tuesday, January 27, 2009

learning to speak kung hei fat choi

it has always been a given fact on this blog, how i despise going to manila, how i hate walking on its dirty streets and how it depresses me whenever i see people even families sleeping on the sidewalk, which has been a typical scene of the place. i even remembered a friend who once told me that manila wouldn't be complete without them.
personally, despite the tall and colorful buildings, million worth of grandeur light posts, and whatever ka-ek ekan has been introduced by the former city mayor, no one can still convince me to live there.
last night, i invited a friend for dinner and we met in gateway. but without any cheap place in mind to eat, we found ourselves sitting inside an fx on our way to binondo--- manila's famous chinatown. its the eve of the chinese new year and i thought that would be really interesting. honestly, binondo has always been an exception because of the interesting mixture of various cultures and how they jive together and work as one.

we dropped off at quiapo and walked towards binondo. the place was busy as usual though half of the crowd were already fixing their goods and preparing their respective floor beds for the night.
divino of tatakbulakenyo
hahaha. jowk lang po!

then divino led me to enter the famous quiapo church, we walked pass it as a shortcut. i was hesitant at first, not because it might cast me into fire (cliche!) but because it was my first time to enter this place considered by many to be holy.

i grew up in manila and i have been living here for almost three years now after the family migrated to bicol and graduated from baguio. but this is the first time that i would set my foot here. divino told me to knock and make a wish as a common belief. though i am not that religious, i still decided to give it a try. good health, prosperity, contentment and bonggang bonggang love and sexlife for me and the people close to me.

when we reached binondo, it was close to being a dark ghost town. no magnificent fireworks, no loud drum beats, no chinese people wearing red and golden wardrobes nor the famous dragon and lion dances. for a second, we doubt if that night was the eve of the new lunar year. but we thought that this should not make us to turn our backs on it for we could still have food trippings, which later proved to be a good decision.

we roamed and entered streets after streets. although clueless and confused of where we were and going, we continued. then we passed by a group of caucasians. divino told me that he heard one of them said, "i thought the chinatown here is pretty."
i wanted to react violently, chase and pull him off his collar, just to say to go back to what part of hell they came from. i just find it rude and inappropriate for an outsider to keep on comparing how magnificent and beautiful his place was in a place he is just visiting. but suddenly i saw myself in one of them and realized i am far worst. a native of this place who kept on saying that the place is not worth living. its a weird feeling: guilty beyond reasonable doubt. then i realized, hey, if this makes it unique, then so be it. just like any other things, sooner or later, all of us will find the distinctiveness of its beauty, regardless if its different from what our standard of beauty is.
then, a group of koreans passed (despite, the difficulties of distinguishing them from chinese, i just knew they were koreans because of where their chinky eyes are leaning and probably because i am already used of seeing them in katipunan). divino and i halted infront of a chinese store selling tikoy and charms. they also paused and checked for the things they are selling. i was busy taking pictures when i noticed a group of children playing and running in between us. then all of a sudden one of the koreans, patted his pocket and immediately chased the kids looking at them, checking if they have something on hand. the korean went back to his peers after seeing those kids were not holding anything. but he was still checking his other pockets. eventually he stopped when one of his friends pulled out from her bag what he was looking for. from that point, i felt a little bit insulted because of the thinking other people have on us. i just thought, probably, the foreigner is not acting based on who or what the person is, rather he is just protecting himself.
we proceed and saw a build up infront of the binondo suite and figured that it was where the celebration is being held. it amazed me to see a prominent mixture of races in the crowd: filipino, chinese and many others. after a time, i came to a point where i could no longer distinguish one from another. then the crowd began cheering when the dragon and lion dances started and became louder when they started counting until the bright fireworks lightened the place. everyone started greeting each other. kissing and hugging their loved ones. then at the middle of it all, i thought, probably, if people would start not identifying others based from his origin and preferences, then probably that is the only time that we could truly say kung hei fat choi! a true start of a prosperous new year for all of us.


gillboard said...

I've never experienced a Chinese New Year celebration yet. That will be on my to do list next year. Thanks for this post Ewwik.

Mugen said...

Masyado naman yata panget ang press release mo sa lunsod ko. Hehehe. Remember Erik, wherever place you go, whatever hellish you think that place is, always remember that it is a home for others. It might not be for you, but for someone else, that place is his heaven.

Glad you enjoyed your trip in Binondo.

Lance said...

i think it's normal that we give out first impressions about a certain place. we just need to choose the right time and words on when and how to say it though.
i haven't experienced chinese new year too. maybe next year since we are transferring to bacolod and my uncle there is very active when it comes to chinese activities and beliefs.
kung hei fst choi!

jeszieBoy said...

I always find it kinda like an eyesoar.hehe. really, those things that you were saying, like the people sleeping alongside the streets of manila. true enough, manila won't be manila w/o these people.

'em from qc btw.
and i love it here.

jamie da vinci! said...

honestly, the celebration of the chinese new year in the philly (naks), compared to other chinatowns in the world, is quite subdued. i never really understood why.

regarding the "charm" of binondo. it's not for everyone i suppose. whenever i find myself lost in its streets, i hear echoes of my childhood and see stories my grandparents tell me of unfold again before my eyes. binondo is the story of my people and despite how others may see it as dirty, dingy, chaotic or corrupt, it will never change the fact that we started here.

this is why i like dragging my friends here. and if the stories are not incentive enough (i go on a history monologue minsan!), the food trip always gets their attention! bwahahahaha!

Trip said...

a new character named in your blog. it spells heavenly and obviously divine. hehehe. good you have a nice time spending chinese new year in binondo and i hope u'll have a good year ahead of u. :)

Jet'aime said...

"... a friend who once told me that manila wouldn't be complete without them." -- what a shame. I assume your friend didn't mean it in a wrong way.

Toilet Thoughts said...

I dunno 'bout 'em foreigners, but I feel happy whenever I go to Manila specially Binondo (or china town even).

Its not really that it's uglier, but more of because it's livelier than some China towns I've been into. Or maybe its just the holidays.

Though medyo tama nga, subdued ang mga Chinese celebrations satin.

Niel Camhalla said...

More that the description of the place this entry is very telling of the character speaking, the choice of lens he wanted to see the city through.

Kung si dabo emo, nega ka. :P

amicus said...

kiong hi! :)

lucas said...

oo nga noh? sana wala ng stereotypes or prejudices..at sana isa na lang talaga ang new year. hehehe! new year din ng mga koreans right?

olan said...

Isa lang masasabi ko... KUNG HEI FAT CHOI! Hehehe.

White said...

kung hei fat choi! :)

Anonymous said...

hay naku, maniwala ka man o hindi, tingin sa filipino eh magnanakaw. mismong fiipino nga eh, takot sa kapwa filipino kse talamak daw ang magnanakaw. nasubukan mo na bang mamili sa sm? matapos kang magshopping ng grocery, they have to see your receipt as proof of purchse and yung number kung ilang grocery bags meron ka...hay...happy kung happy new year.

NOMS said...

that's fei-long wicked mate!
me missed manila sow matx!

Yj said...

"mula sa bayang hikaos sa bigas at puno ng MANDURUGAS, PILIPINAS" --- miss gay bangungot contestant

joke.... but truly, Manila is one of a kind. Mugen said it best. ive had the chance to live in different cities but i call Manila my home, and the best place ever.

Happy Chinese New Year...

and ei, pinanood ko kanina The Thank You Girls.... nahatak ko ung isang boy friend kong straight and u wont believe his reaction after seeing the film!!!

Colbourn Family said...

i wos playing granado espada nung mga time na yun ng chinese new year. oo nga noh, sayang, i could have tried to experience tsinoy new year.

Xin Nian Kuai Le!