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This blog is an amateur photographer's attempt to show how beautiful the world really is. He is drawn to the colors of nature like a moth to a candle light. What are showcased here are nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and some of nature's great sculptures, architectural gems, and other views from around SE Asia that he was fortunate to see at one point.

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February 25, 2015

binondo : chinese new year 2015 on the streets of the oldest chinatown in the world

Dragon Dance

Like always, the Filipino-Chinese community in the Philippines welcomes the Lunar New Year with grand festivities. The Binondo area, Manila's Chinatown, is the epicenter of the celebration, drawing huge crowds from all over. Though I have lived in Manila for quite some time now, I have never witnessed the celebration first hand until recently, so I decided to head there early. Really early.

New Year Lanterns
New Year lanterns

Before dawn a fellow photographer and I are already in front of the arch that leads to the heart of Chinatown. Its was deceptively empty, for within a few hours it will turn into a parking lot of cars and a sea of revelers.

Binondo Chinatown Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch
Filipino-Chinese friendship arch

Did you know that Manila's Chinatown is considered to be the oldest in the world? It was founded in 1594 during the colonial period as a settlement to Chinese immigrants who converted to Christianity. The area is right across Intramuros, the "walled city" that was the seat of the Spanish government at that time.

So here's a slice of my first Chinese New Year's day in Binondo:


Ongpin Crowd

By the time the shops opened, Ongpin St (Binondo's main street), was packed with a mix of revelers, vendors, news crews, dragon and lion dance troupes.

Mr. Camera Man

Charms, and more charms


If you are looking for stuff to improve your luck for the rest of the year, this is the best place and CNY is probably the best time to load up on these charms. Necklaces and pendants, bracelets, lucky fruits, lucky roots, and all sorts of lucky thingamajigs.

Lucky Fruits

Lions and Dragons

Lion dance

One of the highlights in the CNY celebration are the lion and dragon dances. You can follow several groups around Binondo as they visit shops to perform, that is if you can weave through the crowds. The dances are believed to bring in good fortune to the business.


One particular attraction that was hard to miss was Sunlife's very long dragon (more than 100 segments!). Folks followed it around for a bit until midday rain cut the dances short.




Chinese New Year or not, food is always a good reason to visit Binondo.  But be prepared to stand in long queues, or postpone for lunch for much much later, or grabbing a very early one while the rest of the crowd are still happily enjoying the lion and dragon dances. One "technique" is to join "food tours" as these can guarantee you'll be able to eat - and eat all day you will.

Check this out for more of the CNY celebration in Binondo.
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