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Capiz makes Chinese New Year a provincial festival

ROXAS CITY, Capiz (PIA) -- A lion and dragon eye-dotting ceremony last Feb. 5 at the Provincial Capitol Grounds in Roxas City kicked off the eight-day Chinese New Year celebration in the province.

Provincial Ordinance No. 356 institutionalized the celebration of the Lunar New Year as an official festivity of Capiz starting this year through the partnership of the Capiz provincial government and the local Filipino–Chinese community.

Gov. Castro leads the dragon and lion eye-dotting ceremony where the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, leg, forehead and the rest of the necessary parts of the lion is dotted to awaken the spirit of the lion before it is being used in the lion dance. (Photo courtesy of the CPGCG)

Gov. Fredenil Castro led the eye-dotting rites after Monday’s flag-raising ceremony attended by provincial government employees, Filipino–Chinese community members, Capiz Chinese Commercial School pupils and faculty, and the Roxas Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials, among others.

The eye-dotting of the auspicious creatures has set off the dragon and lion dance performances by the Capiz Commercial School Lion and Dance Team in commercial establishments and all local government units until Feb. 12.

Symbolically, the dragon and lion dance depicts the chasing away of evil spirits and the welcoming of new beginnings and blessings.

“Chinese New Year is simply a celebration to invite, urge, and promote unity among our people in the province. It is an advocacy of tradition and good manners and right conduct,” stressed Castro, adding that the provincial government treasures the Chinese contribution to the business, trading, and governance in the province.

Presently, there are about 50 Filipino–Chinese nationals living in the province.

The lion and dragon dance performed by the students of the Capiz Commercial School.

The week-long festivities also include the lotus lantern floating after sundown on Feb. 9 at the Panay River Chinese New Year Parade, Lion and Dance Exhibition Performance as well as Music and Dance Presentation and fireworks display on Feb. 10 along Roxas Avenue in this city.

PIA Kapihan sa SM host and PIA Capiz Information Officer 1 PIa Lorraine Francisco interviews Dr. Yap, Capiz provincial government PIO Atty. Luvim Amores, and Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Officer Alphonsus Tesoro during the Feb. 2 episode of the program.

“During this ceremony, our bodies are purified while the lotus floaters are carried away by the water, so as our ill feelings, sickness, and other negativities,” said RFCCI vice-president Dr. Cesar Yap, Jr. on the lotus floating activity during the Philippine Information Agency’s “Kapihan sa SM City” last Feb. 2.

He added that the inauguration of a school building in a barrio project of Filipino – Chinese groups at the national level in Ivisan town will also be conducted on Feb. 12 as part of the celebration.

Local historian and researcher Erwin Bonifacio said that the friendly trading relations between the Chinese merchants and the province’s natives date back to before the arrival of the Spaniards on the island of Panay.

Chinese trader Bonghi traded porcelain and silk cloth to the natives in Panitan town but the Spanish colonization put a hiatus to the Chinese economic activity in the province until 1850 when the colonizers relaxed some of the restrictions of the Chinese migration to the country.

He added that the Chinese have influenced the natives in the province to venture into sugarcane, abaca production, livestock products and byproducts, which these merchants also trade to Manila for export.

The province’s first governor Simplicio Jugo Vidal, a Chinese mestizo, also significantly influenced local governance from 1901 to 1903 through his framing of several infrastructures and government programs meant to hasten rehabilitation and development of the province damaged by the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine-American war.

Vidal was the son of a Chinese trader from Hong Kong and the first Capiznon to graduate from medicine in Europe. (AGP/AAL/PIA Capiz with photos from CPGCG)

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