We join the nearly 1.4 million Chinese Filipinos—verily one of the largest overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia—in celebrating today the Chinese New Year which will last up to Feb. 8, or a total 15 days.
This is the Year of the Rat, according to Chinese zodiac, with the main element being metal, which makes this leap year in the Gregorian calendar the Year of the Metal Rat—with the Chinese year lasting until Feb. 11, 2021. The Rat is a representation of diligence, kindness and generosity.
Only yesterday, many trooped to arguably one of the oldest Chinatowns in the country—some even say the world—where there was a countdown, as in other Chinatowns in Cebu, Davao, Baguio, San Fernando in La Union and Laoag in Ilocos Norte and other urban centers.
In Manila's Binondo district by the Pasig River, a countdown and a street party happened at the Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz, with performers and celebrity guests as colorful as the 30-minute long fireworks display.
Today, a Grand Float Parade is scheduled to take place down the streets of crowded Binondo and Sta. Cruz, with free admission to all the events.
We note that in Chinese astrology the year of the Metal Rat—also celebrated in 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, and 2008—is predicted to be a lucky year.
The Chinese New Year, based on the ancient Chinese lunar calendar, has become one of the world's most important and popular festivals, given the increasing annual mass human migration in the world.
The holiday is being celebrated in nations like the Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Australia as well as in countries in Europe with a big Chinese community.
But in the middle of the celebration, let us raise hope for others who could not watch the fireworks—like those affected by the recent Taal Volcano eruption and our ill at ease countrymen with their minds on the virus outbreak, which has affected at least nearly 600 people across China.
We join the rest in wishing the revelers great happiness and prosperity. As they say in Mandarin, gong xi fa cai.