Monday, February 10, 2014

Ongpin Flyby

Outside the Chinese enclave of Binondo, life goes, as it has always been: Wage earners rushing to get home, patients waiting to be admitted at the Manila Doctors Hospital, juveniles roaming the streets of Manila. Some of them, heading towards the direction of Ongpin, where the Lunar New Year opens with a live taping of the comedy gag show, Banana Nite.

The latter, I only knew from colleagues when I returned to work the next day. I was at the hospital on Spring Festival's eve. My nephew's been sick and had to be admitted. While his quarters were being prepped, I sneaked out of Maddocs to enjoy the sights and sounds of Chinatown.

I was expecting dragons dancing to the beat of the drums, firecrackers crackling at the middle of the street, and Chinese families pointing at the heavens as fireworks burst into colors and illuminate the sky.

But instead, I was greeted by brown-skinned foreigners like me. They flock the corners, where tikoys and lucky charms were sold in front of pad-locked shops. In the distance, crackles of sulfur and saltpeter broke the chatter of sightseers. Since I arrived at past midnight, the visual and sound delights of Binondo gradually dissolved into silence.

Pilgrims were dissipating quickly.

Still, I was able to experience the Spring Festival as it is observed at the Jade Emperor's court. I was able to catch up and join friends who were at Chinatown as well. There was a Buddhist-Christian shrine a few blocks from the San Lazaro Church. Pilgrims can light sticks of incense and candles before offering prayers.

"For good health and prosperity." I whispered.

Before heading back to the hospital, a lone bakeshop selling pastries was still open. To share the experience, I bought hopia and sweet bread to my loved ones' delight.

It was a brief flyby across Ongpin. One, that is almost uneventful compared to the other strolls and visits I have done in the past. And as I wrap up the milestone - the first observance of the Chinese New Year in Binondo - an intense yet somehow fleeting longing for a companion; a significant someone I could share these moments cut the slow and gentle procession of thoughts in my head.


kalansaycollector said...


dapat maexperience ko ito sa susunod na taon. :)

JM said...


Bitin nga ako eh. Gusto ko sana pumunta sa isang Chinese temple.

Simon said...

That seems like fun though I wish I could have explored Binondo myself.. When I last visited that place about 6 years ago I was never able to really appreciate the place.

JM said...


Mas masaya noon, nung vibrant pa ang Fil-Chi community dun. Ngayon kasi, nag spread out na. :(