Year of the Sheep: Bright Lights, Bright Beginnings

It was indeed bright lights and bright beginnings for everyone, including Filipinos who may or may not have Chinese blood or lineage. I was at the Lucky Chinatown Mall recently to join in the fun of welcoming the Year of the Sheep in my usual solo demeanor.

Chinese lanterns light up the night at Lucky Chinatown Walk. I love these, they're one of my most favorite things. It just simply makes me smile whenever I see them.

Chinese lanterns light up the night at Lucky Chinatown Walk. I love these, they’re one of my most favorite things. It just simply makes me smile whenever I see them.

I’ve always liked this place ever since I found out that there’s this new mall in Divisoria. It has this different vibe when I see the facade of the mall buildings – the colors and structure, something that makes me feel like I’m in Macau.

Every year, feng shui experts give out predictions for the year, including some information about the fate of the different 12 animal signs. It doesn’t really matter whether they will come true or not, rather like what they always say, treat it as a guide. So it doesn’t really harm that many Filipinos like to follow the practices or traditions¬†that are believed to be lucky for the year.

Despite having Chinese lineage, I wasn’t brought up in a family following the usual Chinese traditions like the Chinese New Year but I’ve always recognized the Chinese part of myself, which is probably why I love HongKong. I wanted to get in touch with my Chinese ancestry, so joining in the celebration is one great way to do so even on my own.

And just like how the Catholics pray to God for their wishes, the Chinese have the Buddha to pray to and guide them in their everyday life, accompanied by a range of lucky charms and practices that are believed to ward evil and negative vibes and bring luck and prosperity.

One of the most popular attractions was the Prosperity Tree, which was the first thing that welcomes you when you approach the mall entrance. The Lucky Chinatown Walk became a sensation last February 18, where mall goers and visitors can take photos and take part in the (8) Lucky Rituals.

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It is strongly believed that anyone aspiring luck and prosperity should make a wish by tossing a coin at the Prosperity Pond beneath the Prosperity Tree. As seen in the second photo, the pond comes with a stronger fortune vibe because of the presence of the Dragon Tortoise statue. In Chinese tradition, the dragon tortoise combines two of the four celestial animals in the Feng Shui practice, combining the qualities of both the dragon for perseverance and valiancy and tortoise for its stability and steadfastness. In simpler terms, this mythical figure is the epitome example of wisdom and ambition and believed to bring good fortune in business and career.

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That is me taken this Saturday, Feb. 28 trying out the toss coin wish. My friend Anna took the picture.

Most people are familiar with the Maneki Neko Cat, which is often seen in entrances of Chinese shops. They say, the cat’s moving paw is seemingly inviting visitors to the store therefore bringing and attracting wealth, fortune and opportunities. The belief is that you rub the cat so its good luck charm can rub off on you as well.

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The catch for this one though is that it’s the big version, so the paw is not actually moving

Gongs are frequently seen in Chinese temples. It has always been associated to meditation with its sound that aids in the relaxation of the mind and soul, therefore giving serenity. It’s also believed that if you whip the Good Luck Gong, you are banishing evil spirits and negativity not just in yourself but in your surroundings.

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Kids posing with the Good Luck Gong

And there’s also the wishing crane. I’m not so familiar with this one though, which is why I wanted to try it so bad. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to fold a crane and just ended up getting already-folded cranes from the booth.

Cranes symbolize long life and luck. Japanese legends also tell that folding a thousand origami cranes is to make someone’s wish come true.

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The yellow one at the bottom photo is my very own crane. So I’m hoping, my wishes would come true.

Fu (Happiness), Lu (Prosperity) and Shou (Longevity) are called the Three Stars. They are are the gods of happiness, prosperity and longevity, which are the three essential attributes of a having good life. It is often found in ancestral shrines and Chinese homes. It can be likened to an altar in Filipino homes, where families say a prayer.

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The Three Stars

According to Buddhists, an incense signifies morality and immaculacy. In Chinese culture, lighting the first incense of the year grants a person’s New Year wish.

I remember everytime it’s All Soul’s Day, I¬†light a number of incense and place them in a sand jar in front of the graves of my paternal grandparents and my father’s.

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The Buddha Shrine

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I forgot what this is called, but it’s also one of the popular lucky charms with coins in it often seen in Chinese shops.

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I was able to take photos in front of the Prosperity Tree and the Chinese ricksaw because it isn’t crowded anymore, as these were taken on Saturday, Feb. 28, and with the help of Anna.

There were also performances at the Lucky Chinatown Atrium, with singing acts including Kiss Jane, Silent Sanctuary, Hotdog, Cathy Go, James Reid & Nadine Lustre and Anne Curtis and hosted by Candy Pangilinan.

At 11:55pm, visitors were treated to a lion and dragon dance performance at the Lucky Chinatown Walk, an acrobat performance, forecast of the Year of the Sheep by Johnson Chua and the lighting of the first incense ritual.

Hua Mulan: A Children’s Musical from Kids Act Phils. were also performed on Sunday, Feb. 22. The children’s favorite story of Hua Mulan centers on family, sacrifice and courage.

The night ended with a grand fireworks display.

Other activities included in the succeeding days were Shin Lian Chinese orchestra performance, Chinese Opera, Feng Shui talk with Hanz Chua, Shaun – The Sheep Meet & Greet, Chinese school performance, Philippine Ling Namn High Pole Dance; and performances from Sitti Navarro, Sabrina, Myk Perez, Brad Go, Sheila Valderama, Richard Poon and Jose Mari Chan.

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The band Hotdog performing disco classics

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Silent Sanctuary playing their hits

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Kiss Jane performs “Lagi Na Lang”

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James Reid and Nadine Lustre bring in the “kilig” for the Chinese New Year celebration

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Anne Curtis performing in red

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Food for the day wasn’t Chinese though, but still with Chinese influences. Since the Chinese New Year countdown fell on the same day as Ash Wednesday, which means eating meat is prohibited. I ordered Shrimp & Tofu from ThaiCoon, which I hope would have more branches in SM Malls as I always have to go to Lucky Chinatown for Thai food.