It has been years since I have been wanting to go to Binondo to celebrate the Chinese New Year (CNY) even if I am not of Chinese decent. I wanted to see the legit Lion and Dragon Dance perform. I am the type of person who loves cultural performances and arts that’s why I am very eager to witness it in Binondo. Kapag sinusuwerte ka nga naman, since I was in college in 2008 laging may pasok ako kaya ‘di ako makapunta sa Binondo for CNY. 10 years trying to attempt pala ‘to, hahaha! I didn’t realize. This year, I am lucky enough to have a day off on its eve. Pwede na rin kesa wala, I’ll just try my luck if I would see what I want to witness. At the same time, I am not expecting that much so as not to get disappointed. Pero minsan kahit tanggap mo na, masakit pa rin. Charot!
How to Get There?
Ongpin, one of the most famous streets in Binondo is just few minutes away if you walk from LRT 2 Recto Station or from LRT 1 Carriedo Station. I would not suggest that you ride a pedicab because there are lots of dishonest and scammer pedicab drivers. It is still wiser to walk, although I cannot guarantee you the safety of the place. Just be vigilant of your surroundings if you’re going to walk from LRT station to Binondo.
I was overwhelmed when I arrived at Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila. It was crowded, chaotic, I was alone, and I don’t know where to go. It was just spontaneous, I woke up late just decided to go straight ahead in Binondo. Lots of vendors sprawled along the streets to take advantage of the season. I was hungry and I don’t know where to eat, I was not in the mood to eat street food because I wanted a rice meal. At the same time, I was also chasing lion and dragon dancers which looked like that they are already done performing for the day. Thankfully, Google is really helpful in this kind of adventure where you come in unprepared. Hahaha!
I was able to dine in at Kim Hiong Food Garden which was one of the suggested restaurants in Binondo along Ongpin St. I had Beef brisket with vegetable (covered by the beef) which costs P160. I have not tried their other dishes since I was just alone and I cannot eat them all. The beef brisket is fine but it was like made from paste and I was not really satisfied. I was hoping for a succulent meal like what is being served at Shangri-La Chinese Restaurant at cheaper cost but I was wrong. I had my hopes too high. Hahaha!
I had to chase several lion and dragon dancers with the hope to see them stop at an establishment and perform their ritual; but to my disappointment, most of them were already done for the day and just went back to their storage facility to rest and wait for something that I do not know.
I was about to give up that night without seeing an actual lion and dragon dance for the Chinese new year. I thought it wasn’t just my day and was already prepared to leave the place.
Then, I saw them along Mapua St. I knew right there and then that there’s something going to happen! It’s my day! and I wasn’t disappointed! I followed them through up to Blulane Hotel along Mapua St. in Binondo. I had a chance to see them up close and personal. Parang artisita lang!
I was so amused when they started to perform! It’s really different when you them live, it’s so festive and they look so adorable when they dance to the beat of the drums and cymbals. The lion dancers are usually the highlight of the performance because they are so cute and they act like dogs. I am more amazed to the person at the back because he cannot see anything plus it’s straining to the back to bend in the entire performance.
Their final act was to dance in front of the ang pao hanging in front of the establishment. I am glad the Blulane Hotel is kind enough to allow us, spectators, to watch the lion and dragon dance. I guess the owners of the establishments are generous enough for these men to make this performance a living.
Before going home, I had to buy my ate a lucky keychain for the year of the dog. It comes with free lucky coin, dasal, at kulam charot! I didn’t know that kind of keychain is really expensive. It costs P500 but I was able to haggle it for P430. I hope that lucky keychain works. Maybe it really works for the seller of the keychains. Hahaha!