We may have already welcomed the New Year in our own ways but not the Chinese community. According to the lunar calendar, this year, the Lunar New Year falls on the 31st of January, signalling the year of the Wooden Horse. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries with significant Chinese populations including the Philippines. It is considered a major traditional holiday for the Chinese and Chinese communities all over the world.
In Iloilo City, aside from the Kasadyahan and Dinagyang festivals, many people also look forward to the Chinese New Year festival of the city. Iznart Street is the venue of the celebration because it is where one will find most of the stores of the “Chinoy” or Filipino-Chinese retail businessmen. It is considered as Chinatown, just like Ongpin Street in Manila. That’s why, every time the Ilonggos celebrate the Chinese New Year, decorations are put up and all the stores cooperate by hanging authentic Chinese lanterns to welcome the New Year.
It all started in 2003 when three schools namely Iloilo Central Commercial High School, Iloilo Sun Yat Sen High School and the Santa Maria Catholic School participated in the program. Pupils and students from the said schools wear traditional Chinese costumes and perform dance routines that showcase the Chinese’ rich culture. Other than this, they also perform lion and dragons dances that certainly excite the spectators. The celebration was a success and Mayor Jerry Trenas, the mayor at that time, impressed with the way things turned out, decided to make the celebration annually. Ever since that time, Iloilo’s Chinese New Year celebration has been considered as the biggest Chinese New Year celebration outside Metro Manila.