A massive turnout of visitors is expected to flood the bustling streets of Manila Chinatown to watch a grand Solidarity Parade that will highlight the celebration of the Chinese New Year today.
The celebration kicked off last night with a colorful 12-minute fireworks display at the Fil-Chinese Friendship bridge. The 680-meter tied-arch bridge that links Intramuros and Binondo across the Pasig River was closed to traffic to give way to the technical preparation for the fireworks display.
The adjacent Jones Bridge served as the crowd’s viewing area, while others watched from the newly built Pasig River promenade.
Commencing at 4 p.m. on Saturday in front of the Post Office in Plaza Lawton, the procession will feature about 30 floats from various Filipino-Chinese organizations and businesses.
The vibrant parade will wind its way through the decorated streets ofChinatown, covering barangays Sta. Cruz, San Nicolas, Binondo, and culminating at the Lucky Chinatown Mall in Divisoria.
“We expect about one million visitors to celebrate with us,” said Manila City Administrator Bernardito Ang, referring to both local and foreign tourists eager to participate in the parade, embark on a culinary tour, or indulge in some shopping.
Ang said last year, they registered 500,000 foot traffic at LuckyChinatown Mall alone during the whole day of festivities, and he expects to topple that number tomorrow.
The celebration promises an all-day extravaganza, featuring street performances such as lion and dragon dances, a delectable food tour along Ongpin Street, diverse activities at Plaza San Lorenzo, and entertainment by movie celebrities at Lucky Chinatown.
Ang said Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna has expressed her gratitude to the Chinese-Filipino community for generously funding the festivities which coincides with the 430th anniversary of the oldest and largest Chinatown in the world.
Lacuna recognized the Chinoys’ pivotal role in shaping the rich history and progress of Manila over the years through their significant contributions to the city’s various programs.
She also thanked them for their continued business in Manila, emphasizing that their taxes help fund the city’s programs aimed at providing basic services for the Manilenos.
International Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ICCP) chairman and former Philippine Stocks Exchange president Francis Chua, on Friday, underscored the good relations between the Philippines and China, marking the start of an auspicious lunar year for many Chinese businessmen in the country.
He noted many Chinese businesses have thrived in the country and many Filipino business moguls are of Chinese descent.
Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCIII) president Cecilio Pedro said enterprises and all businesses in Chinatown especially in Ongpin and Binondo were encouraged to participate in the solidarity parade.
“All of these are to commemorate the wonderful friendship of Chinese and Filipinos over so many years. And I think the bond is still very, very strong,” Pedro said.
Established in 1584 by the Spanish government as a permanent settlement for Chinese immigrants, Binondo evolved into a thriving center for trade and commerce.
Ang said a comprehensive security plan has already been arranged with the combined forces of the Manila Police District, Manila Traffic and Traffic Bureau, and barangay police from the 19 barangays under the Manila Chinatown Barangay Organization headed by Jeff Lau.
As part of the preparations, a re-routing scheme has been implemented since yesterday by the Manila Police District.
A joint force of MTPB and barangay volunteers will be around to guide motorists and streamline traffic flow, Ang said.
MPD Police Brig. Gen. Arnold Thomas Ibay said that the bulk of the 1,500 cops deployed to secure the celebrations will be in place during the parade.
He said the PNP has already set up numerous checkpoints in the area and road closures were implemented to ensure security.
In Quezon City, Mayor Joy Belmonte spearheaded the first day celebration of the Chinese New Year in the Banawe area, the city’s Chinatown district.
“This year, we have thought of celebrating the Chinese New Year from Feb. 9 to Feb. 11 to promote the district as a tourist hub,” she said.
“Before, we only had a one-day celebration. But now, we are mounting a three-day event with the involvement of various stakeholders. We have to deepen the appreciation of the people, the media and the vloggers on the rich heritage of Chinoy’s heritage,” she added. With Vince Lopez, Othel Campos, and Rio Araja