Bacolod City is big on Chinese New Year. And why shouldn’t it because of the big population of Filipino-Chinese residents who have organized themselves in order to hold the annual Bacolaodiat Festival.
Each year, there are many activities around the city, including the closing of Lacson Street and dubbing it Chopsticks Alley. The strip is then decorated with Chinese lanterns and sculptures of the Zodiac signs. There are wares and food items sold, but of course, it is filled with stalls selling chicken inasal. There are presentations, too, by the different schools.
But this year, my family and I went all out with our celebration as part of our cultural experience. Our children are Chinese mestizas because of my husband’s lineage and it is made stronger because of Chinese ancestry on my mother’s side. So for me, it is but fitting to go back to our roots as we celebrate Chinese New Year.
In the future, when our youngest daughter is bit bigger, we shall venture overseas and experience the lunar new year in countries with strong Chinese influence (God provides hehe). But for now, we shall do it here at our hometown.
This year, we did not go to the Chopsticks Alley though. Instead, we went to the Yuan Thong Buddhist Temple at Burgos Street, Bacolod City last January 27 and then again on January 29. And in both instances, the kids donned their Chinese costumes.
You might ask, what is a Christian family doing in a Buddhist Temple? Cultural exposure. We are homeschooling in Bacolod and this is part of their lessons. The kids enjoyed the Chinese decors that included lanterns, fans, umbrellas, and flowers! And because it’s the Year of the Rooster, decorative and toy fowls litter the place. The children also enjoyed dabbling in calligraphy and experienced tea time. We also had a vegetarian dinner there. It’s like experiencing a bit of ancient China in Bacolod.
Of course, since we are not Buddhists, we did not participate in any of their religious undertakings, including making wishes. But it was a good time for the children to learn what others are doing in their faith. It’s called respect.
Bacolaodiat Spring Festival Gala
On New Year’s eve, so many things happened. In the morning, the kids received red envelopes from their Ang Kong (grandfather) and then they were able to catch the lion dance at the store. Shawna was the one who gave a money envelope to the lion and the experience was already exhilarating for her.
In the evening, we were able to attend the Bacolaodiat Spring Festival Gala held at the SMX Convention Center. It is a paid event that included a lauriat dinner so we did not bring the little one, as we know that she would just run around more than eat. But we brought Shawna along with us. If I remember correctly, it is her third year to attend such an event. I wanted her to attend even if I wasn’t around, just like last year, because I wanted her to see the cultural performances. And she did. She ate very little and instead stayed by the stage to watch the dancers.
The Spring Festival Gala is gathering of Filipino-Chinese residents, families, and friends here in Bacolod. Everyone in the Chinese community is involved, including schools, restaurants, and the volunteer fire brigades.
At the gala, we also enjoyed the dragon dance by the Amity Volunteer Fire Brigade and especially the skillful lion dance and exhibition by the Chamber Volunteer Fire Brigade. It was breathtaking!
We had so much fun this year. And we shall continue to do these next year. Maybe even more. Life lessons come in all forms, colors, and shapes. The world is our classroom. Homeschooling parents find ways and means to bring some of the best learning experiences to their children. And I think that for studying customs and traditions of Chinese New Year, we nailed it.