By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan and Ferdinand Patinio

‘KUNG HEI FAT CHOI’. Shoppers queue up to buy traditional Chinese delicacies, such as hopia, “tikoy,” and mooncake, at a popular store in Binondo, Manila on Friday (Feb. 9, 2024). The Manila Police District cautioned shoppers against criminals who would take advantage of big crowds to carry out their illegal activities. (PNA photo by Priam Nepomuceno)

MANILA – The Manila Police District (MPD) on Friday reminded those joining the Chinese New Year celebrations in the city to be vigilant against criminals and plan their trips to avoid inconvenience.

In a television interview, MPD Director, Brig. Gen. Arnold Thomas Ibay, said shoppers must keep a tight watch on their personal belongings.

“Huwag nang magdala ng malaking halaga ng pera at saka siyempre iyong mga alahas kasi kapag siksikan doon po nagti-take advantage ang mga mandurukot (Don’t carry large amounts of cash and, of course, jewelry because pickpockets take advantage of big crowds to carry out their schemes),” Ibay said.

He said checkpoints would be set up around the Binondo Chinatown area to secure the celebrations.

Police officers would also patrol areas, such as Ongpin Street, where visitors are expected to dine in restaurants and buy lucky charms and other items from stores.

Ibay likewise urged motorists to take alternative routes as several roads would be closed to give way to various activities for the occasion.

Line-up of activities

The Manila City government, meanwhile, unveiled the line-up of activities for Chinese New Year.

The city would welcome the Year of the Wood Dragon with a 12-minute grand fireworks display at the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge at midnight on Friday.

“Fireworks viewing area is at Jones Bridge, while the fireworks display itself is located at Binondo-Intramuros Bridge,” the Manila Public Information Office (PIO) said in a statement.

The Binondo-Intramuros Bridge was closed to traffic early Friday in preparation for the fireworks display.

Meanwhile, the southbound lane of the Jones Bridge would be closed to traffic starting at 7 p.m. Friday while the northbound lane would be closed starting at 10 p.m., to allow the public to watch the fireworks display.

Aside from celebrating the Chinese New Year, the city is also preparing for the 130th anniversary of the oldest and largest Chinatown in the world, the Chinatown in Binondo, on March 29.

The Manila Ocean Park is also joining the Chinese New Year celebration with a show titled “Mermaid of the Dragon Seas,” which runs from Friday to Sunday.

“This captivating performance is more than just a visual delight. It’s a tribute to the Chinese cultural heritage, resonating deeply with the themes of prosperity, strength, and the ushering of good fortune in the new year,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment said private sector employees who would report to work on Friday and Saturday would receive an additional 30 percent in their daily wage.

On the other hand, the “no work, no pay” principle shall apply to employees who will not work on these days, unless there is a favorable company policy, practice, or collective bargaining agreement granting payment on a special non-working day.

Prosperity, good fortune

The Department of National Defense, meanwhile, wished the Filipino-Chinese community a peaceful and prosperous new year.

“Let us welcome a year of growth, progress, and good fortune this Year of the Wood Dragon,” Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said in a statement.

He also hoped that “this year of innovation and technology” would help create a stable and prosperous nation “under a regime of respect for international law and the sanctity of our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In October last year, Malacañang declared Feb. 10, 2024 as a special non-working day throughout the country for the celebration of Chinese New Year.

Last month, it also declared Feb. 9 as an additional special non-working day to celebrate the occasion and enjoy a longer weekend. (with report from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)