Be­yond pros­per­ity and good luck

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Front Page - By Abi­gail Viguella

The in­flu­ence of Chi­nese cul­ture and tra­di­tions has long been rooted deep in our com­mu­nity. Even in Ca­gayan de Oro, some of the most in­flu­en­tial movers of de­vel­op­ments here come from the Filipino-Chi­nese com­mu­nity.

The an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of the Chi­nese New Year is also not for­eign to most of us here. Now that the Chi­nese Year of the Fire Rooster has be­gun, iconic red lanterns light up the city streets and parks. Nu­mer­ous stalls dis­play lucky charms and or­na­ments in a num­ber of malls. More than that, the ex­cite­ment and in­ter­est about what to do and what not to do for the Year of the Fire Rooster al­ways amuse cu­ri­ous Filipinos.

While Chi­nese cul­ture has con­trib­uted to our lan­guage, cui­sine, and our way of life, more wis­dom can be learned from this rich cul­ture. In the city, some lead­ers in the com­mu­nity, academe, and busi­ness sec­tors come from Filipino-Chi­nese res­i­dents who made it all the way up on top be­cause of the Chi­nese wis­dom and tra­di­tions that have been passed onto them. To­day, as Filipino-Chi­nese fam­i­lies gather ev­ery Chi­nese New Year, they not only aim to feast but more im­por­tantly to honor the con­tri­bu­tions of their an­ces­tors. Al­bert Leong, Chair­man of the Philip­pine Bell Church who leads the cel­e­bra­tion says that be­fore any­thing else, Chi­nese peo­ple pray to the gods for the souls of their an­ces­tors. Ev­ery Chi­nese New Year, he said that wel­com­ing the bless­ings of the New Year is not as im­por­tant to them as re­mem­ber­ing and hon­or­ing their an­ces­tors for the things they have done. “In the Chi­nese New Year, as we light in­cense for prayers in the tem­ples, we do not only ask for bless­ing but we also com­mem­o­rate and thank our an­ces­tors who have passed on. There is wis­dom in re­mem­ber­ing the past when we are get­ting ready for the fu­ture” Leong said. Leong to­gether with Elias Ng, over­all spir­i­tual leader and ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Bell Church ex­plained that the Bell Church, the cen­ter of the Chi­nese New Year Cel­e­bra­tion, is grounded on the idea of unity. Ac­cord­ing to them, the Chi­nese New Year is not only about all the fire­works dis­plays or the noise of the dragon and lion dances but also in the pos­si­bil­ity of peo­ple ex­ist­ing har­mo­niously with each other re­gard­less of dif­fer­ences in re­li­gion and race.

“As you can see, here in the Bell Church, we light in­cense and pray to five saints. The ones here in the al­tar are stat­ues rep­re­sent­ing the var­i­ous re­li­gions peo­ple be­lieve in. From left to right, you can see the rep­re­sen­ta­tions of Tao­ism, Bud­dhism, Chris­tian­ity, Is­lam, and Con­fu­cian­ism. This is to ac­knowl­edge that who­ever you are, this tem­ple is open for your prayers,” Ng said.

“This tem­ple, like other tem­ples around the coun­try is called the “Bell Church” be­cause bells sym­bol­ize unity. When you ring it, peo­ple from all around will be able to hear it equally. We be­lieve that re­li­gions are only dif­fer­ences in be­liefs but we all can live har­mo­niously if we chose to dis­re­gard these dif­fer­ences. This is the cen­ter phi­los­o­phy of the Bell Church” Leong added.

As Chi­nese New Year is a time for fes­tiv­i­ties and well-wish­ing among the Chi­nese peo­ple, some also get ex­cited of tra­di­tions and prac­tices dur­ing New Year. Nida Gal­lardo, 56 years old with Chi­nese an­ces­try said that un­til to­day, she still looks for­ward to the Chi­nese New Year as much as Catholics get ex­cited about the mer­ri­ment of the Christ­mas sea­son.

“I only have one fourth Chi­nese blood in me and yet I choose to ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in most of the Chi­nese prac­tices dur­ing New Year. One of my fa­vorites is wear­ing red be­cause that color brings luck and pros­per­ity to peo­ple,” Gal­lardo said.

She says that most of what we know of Chi­nese be­liefs and tra­di­tions re­volve around the Chi­nese peo­ple’s love for sym­bol­ism and ob­ject as­so­ci­a­tions. She ex­plains that Chi­nese peo­ple eat and share the “Tikoy” be­cause of its stick­i­ness which will bring strength to fam­ily ties. The same can be about their be­lief that round fruits such as grapes, or­anges, and pears bring money be­cause of their sim­i­lar­ity with coin’s shape and that “pancit” can bring long life be­cause of the strands’ length. Aside from these, she says that most Chi­nese look for­ward to wit­ness­ing the fire­works cer­e­mony which not only adds to the noise of the cel­e­bra­tion but also are be­lieved to ward off evil spir­its in the area.

Even with all the craze about the Chi­nese sym­bol­ism and be­liefs in Feng Shui, Chi­nese peo­ple largely choose to be­lieve in their own ca­pa­bil­i­ties most es­pe­cially in the quest to im­prove them­selves and their po­si­tions in life, such as in busi­ness.

“Of course I be­lieve in Feng Shui. It is not only some­thing that is su­per­sti­tion but it is science. So you have to do con­sult some­one who can do it very well or you might end up un­for­tu­nate. How­ever, even if you do all the things the Feng Shui ex­perts tell you to do, with­out per­sonal ef­forts to im­prove your­self you will never suc­ceed,” Leong said.

The same wis­dom also comes from Juan Sia, for­mer city coun­cilor and owner of mul­ti­ple suc­cess­ful busi­nesses in the city. He said that while there is no harm in cel­e­brat­ing the Chi­nese New Year and act­ing in ac­cor­dance to what the Feng Shui says, one must still be mind­ful of the ef­forts one does for one’s self. He says that there is no “lucky” or “un­lucky” year for a per­son’s en­deav­ors, it is up to the per­son to put into re­al­ity the things he wants in life.

“Be­liev­ing in those is okay, but you must al­ways make sure that you have the right abil­ity and strength for your ven­tures. Only with be­liev­ing in your­self and ad­mit­ting your weak­nesses and faults can you re­ally be suc­cess­ful in life,” Sia said.

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