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Chinese New Year ~ 2017 is Year of the Fire Rooster

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This year’s Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year falls on the 28th of January. It will be the Year of the Fire Rooster. In the Philippines, the Chinese New Year is celebrated not only by the Chinese community but also by the local folks who have adopted the Chinese culture in their own lives. Expect a lot of fireworks, traditional food, rituals and dancing dragons and lions on parade. Malate’s Taoist and Buddhist temples are great places to visit to get into the vibe of the Chinese community’s century-old festival.




The Rooster is tenth in the Chinese zodiac. Each year, the Lunar New Year is named after an animal sign according to a 12-year cycle. Years of the Rooster include 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and 2029.




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Traditional Chinese architecture at the entrance of a Taoist Temple in Malate, Manila


The Temple of Taoism International Inc. is at 1818 Dr. A Vasquez St, 50m from Pedro Gil St. in Malate. This area has a lot of good Chinese restaurants where one can dine after touring the temple.


What is Taoism? Taoism (or Daoism) is a philosophical, ethical and religious Chinese tradition from whose principles are centered on nature and harmony. Its legendary founder Lao Tzu, wrote the book “Tao Te Ching” which contains his profound teachings about the principles of Taoism. The term “Tao” pertains to the source and the force behind everything that exists, and Taoism has always encouraged curiosity and investigation as a means of understanding nature and “Tao”. Along with Buddhism and Confucianism it forms one of the three great philosophical pillars of Chinese society.


To welcome the Year of the Goat in the Buddhist Tradition, you can visit the Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple (656 Pablo Ocampo St, Malate – next to the Vietnamese Embassy, Century Park Hotel and Rizal Baseball Stadium – tel 5234909) which is open on the evening of the 18th for festivities, food and performances.



Traditional Chinese Buddhist symbols in the Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple in Malate, Manila


While in the temple during Chinese New Year, there are many fun traditional activities that you may participate in, such as writing on lanterns called “kim”. These are colourful red, white and gold lanterns that are prepared ahead of the occasion. Tradition states that you write the name of the people whom you would like to receive prosperity for the year. Then, the lanterns are offered to the deities in the altar. Taoist celebration during Chinese New Year is characterised by a lot of beautiful lantern display inside and outside the temple. The occasion also involves spectacular candle lighting.



Lighting red and gold candles for a bright new year


Divination or predicting the future is also part of the activities in the temple and which attracts many people from all walks of life, even the non-Chinese. In fact, both Taoists and otherwise – even devotees of other religions – flock to the temple to get some glimpses into the future. Taoism places great value in genuineness, longevity, vitality, immortality, “wu wei” (which is a philosophy of non action to give way to natural destinies), refinement, detachment (or emptiness), spontaneity, transformation and developing all potentials.


Because Taoism is popular for introducing the concept of Yin and Yang, one will enjoy various sights of yin-yang emblems in the temple. In summary, this philosophy teaches how life is always composed of two opposite sides or extremes–good and bad, soft and hard, male and female, and day and night, to name a few–to maintain its equilibrium. Without these opposite forces, life will be unbalanced.


The Taoism International Temple is also embellished with dragon figures, Chinese characters, ancient Chinese architecture and furnishings, Taoist altars and deity images, and offerings of rice, money, herbal roots, and fruits like pineapple, papaya, watermelon, and oranges to signify health and prosperity.


For more Chinese tradition, you can check out the vibrant and exciting dragon and lion dances that are popular each Chinese New Year in Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown district nearby. This is the oldest Chinatown in the world.



Author: Jaden Mero 


Image source:
Beautiful red lanterns -
2017 Lunar New Year – Fire Rooster –
Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple –
Temple and candles –








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