CHINATOWN PHOTOWALK 2015: Celebrating the Chinese New Year at Binondo, Manila

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CHINATOWN PHOTOWALK 2015: Celebrating the Chinese New Year at Binondo, Manila


Kung Hei Fat Choy! Year of the Sheep!

The Chinese New Year at the Manila Chinatown remains to be one of the most anticipated events in Manila. And as always, bloggers and photographers troop to the streets of Binondo to capture the unrivaled sights and sounds of the occasion.

Red and yellow hues still dominated the scene, with revelers (including me!) wearing these bright colors to welcome the Year of the Sheep.

Just one reminder: Never attempt to bring your car with you as there are no available parking spaces and it is very impossible to traverse the busy streets of Binondo. Some tried but failed.


PHOTOWALK

Ongpin Street

We arrived in Binondo around noon and were met with a slight shower of rains. Umbrellas snapped open for about fifteen minutes, afterwhich the bright sun lit the Chinatown streets once again. Chinese folks there say this is a sign of good luck and blessings.


The Filipino-Chinese Arch of Goodwill located at the start of Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila near the Sta. Cruz Church
The Filipino-Chinese Arch of Goodwill located at the start of Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila near the Sta. Cruz Church


Chinese lanterns hung over street posts along Ongpin St.
Chinese lanterns hung over street posts along Ongpin St.


More Chinese lanterns in Chinatown
More Chinese lanterns in Chinatown


CHINATOWN: A signboard of "Ongpin St"
CHINATOWN: A signboard of "Ongpin St"


CHINATOWN: Crowd of people walk along Ongpin St.
CHINATOWN: Crowd of people walk along Ongpin St.


CHINATOWN: A car tries to pass through a thick crowd along Ongpin St.
CHINATOWN: A car tries to pass through a thick crowd along Ongpin St.


Chinese charms, chimes and mobiles are sold all over Chinatown
Chinese charms, chimes and mobiles are sold all over Chinatown


People

The Binondo area was exploding with people, and this is no exaggeration. It's all needles inside haystacks! So, it's best to wear something comfortable plus an additional towel to wipe all those sweat.

The streets were reeking of vendors and hawkers. Everybody selling Chinese charms, feng shui jewels, street food, balloons, t-shirts, calendars, sheep statuettes, chimes, etc.

The afternoon program was marked with a parade of floats and a lot of Dragon dances, accompanied by several marching bands. We got the chance to see MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino and Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno who rode on top of a float, together with an image of a sheep -- this year's lunar celebrant.



Chinatown: A marching band entertain the crowd along Ongpin St
Chinatown: A marching band entertain the crowd along Ongpin St


CHINATOWN: A male vendor sells his wares and chimes
CHINATOWN: A male vendor sells his wares and chimes 


CHINATOWN: A "kalesa" (horse carriage) gallops through a street in Binondo
CHINATOWN: A "kalesa" (horse carriage) gallops through a street in Binondo


CHINATOWN: Children having fun with their improvised percussions
CHINATOWN: Children having fun with their improvised percussions


CHINATOWN: Boys play the dragon dance along the street
CHINATOWN: Boys play the dragon dance along the street


CHINATOWN: Girls twirl their flags during a parade
CHINATOWN: Girls twirl their flags during a parade


CHINATOWN: MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno on top of a float
CHINATOWN: MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno on top of a float


CHINATOWN: MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino beside an image of a sheep -- waves at the crowd
CHINATOWN: MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino beside an image of a sheep -- waves at the crowd





Food

When you walk the streets of Chinatown, it's imperative that you taste the blasts of Chinese cuisine. Your tour won't be complete without them. They are one of the best dishes in the world.

For this year, we tried the New Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian restaurant and ordered their specialties of vegan mock meat in Beef Caldereta, Beef Pares, Pork Sisig, Bicol Express and Chicharon Bituka flavors. Don't be fooled with their looks -- they are vegetarian food (see below photos).

Of course, we also took bites at one of the oldest chicken joint in Chinatown, the Classic Savory. We got Lo Han Chai noodles and yes, you guessed it right -- fried chicken and pancit canton.


CHINATOWN: The New Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian Restaurant
CHINATOWN: The New Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian Restaurant


Vegan mock meat in Beef Caldereta, Beef Pares, Pork Sisig, Bicol Express and Chicharon Bituka flavors
Vegan mock meat in Beef Caldereta, Beef Pares, Pork Sisig, Bicol Express and Chicharon Bituka flavors


Classic Savory Restaurant: Lo Han Chai noodles
Classic Savory Restaurant: Lo Han Chai noodles


Classic Savory Restaurant: Fried Chicken and Pansit Canton with rice
Classic Savory Restaurant: Fried Chicken and Pansit Canton with rice



TIKOY (rice cakes)

And finally, the star of the show!

There is no Chinese New Year that had passed without a box of the majestic, tasty, and sweet TIKOY. It's a must-have. A prerequisite to celebration. The ultimate craving inside of Chinatown.

The TIKOYS are sold everywhere: along the streets, inside shops and groceries, and of course inside two of everybody's favorite food joints -- Salazar Bakery and Eng Bee Tin.

Old folks say the TIKOY symbolizes family bonding, strong family ties and harmonious cooperation among siblings and relatives.


CHINATOWN; A couple picks their "choice of "tikoy" (rice cakes)


"Tikoys" are sold all throughout the Chinatown area
"Tikoys" are sold all throughout the Chinatown area


EPILOGUE

It was a little past 5pm when we were finally done with our photowalk, food-tasting and shopping. The sky is starting to get darker so we decided to call it a day.

There were definitely blood, sweat and tears elbowing through the thick crowds of the Manila Chinatown, but the fun and adventure was worth it. In fact, we're already planning another visit next lunar new year!

KUNG HEI FAT CHOY to everyone!





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