It was my first time to witness how a culture struggles to exist in a place hostile to their presence.
On the eve of Chinese New Year, I was lying lazily on my bed in Laloma, Quezon City when drumbeats called and awakened something in me, making me want to run and dance, so right there and then I went out and tracked down where the music is playing.
In front of the barangay hall (whose captain, I was told, was a Tsinoy) there were young men in yellow and red carrying lion heads and a dragon’s body all moving in synch with the drum and cymbals, while judas belt was firing away like an irrepressible machine gun on the streets.
Public vehicles were allowed to pass by as the celebration went on but when the fireworks seemed to be out of control, traffic built in, while the dragon overtook the floor, that is Retiro street. Smoke gave us zero visibility and the sounds gave our ears a really hard time, that we couldn’t decide which should we cover–nose and mouth, or both ears.
Filipino Chinese residents of Manila celebrated the Chinese New Year with the traditional Lion and Dragon dance, with tikoys on the side and fireworks high above. When I watched them outside our house in Laloma, my faint memory of their historical posterity comes to the fore.
The Chinese did not come here all as capitalists and multinational tycoons. They have their own share of the most cruel stereotyping and backlashing discrimination in a country they have loved as their own biological mother. Centuries ago, most of them were slaves sold to well-meaning families in the Philippines in a time when China’s red rule and poverty-stricken land push its own citizens away from home.
Hardship was written all over the face of China’s history. But the Chinese persistence to survive all forms of antagonism seems to root from their faith, not only on the Golden Buddha, but on themselves, that after all those dehumanizing centuries, they stand tall as the world’s enviable economy and cultural heritage.
Retiro doesnt only feature lechon industry but pervasive cultural practices such as this. Now Im starting to love Laloma.