THE Chinese New Year is once again in our midst and Bacolod City is abuzz with celebrations left and right with the annual BacoLaodiat. How very apt for us, Negrenses, because the lunar calendar is welcoming the Year of the Rooster. Revelers will once again troop to Lacson Street, from the 6th Street to the 13th Street, as well as to other venues in the city, such as the Bacolod Government Center, to take part in the merrymaking from January 27 to 29.

While many will be dazzled by the Grand Parade and the Lantern Street Dance Competition, others can observe how Buddhists celebrate the Chinese New Year at the FoGuang Shan Yuan Thong Temple, located on Burgos Street. Yuan Thong Temple will open its doors to the public to allow people to know more about the many Chinese traditions. According to Master Zhi Yi, the temple welcomes the public to join them in their activities as their way of bridging cultures and providing an avenue for cultural exchange.

January 27 (Chinese New Year’s Eve)

Expect a wide array of Chinese delicacies and other attractions in its food fair and games stall. There are also Chinese Culture Experience and DIY Booths in the temple grounds. By 7 p.m., there are performances that the public can watch, such as the traditional Dragon and Lion Dance and the Chinese New Year Eve Blessing Service. When the clock strikes midnight, they will have the Chinese New Year Morning Chanting and Ringing of the Blessing Bell to welcome the Year of the Rooster.

January 28 (first day of the Year of the Rooster)

At 10 a.m., Yuan Thong Temple will be saying the First New Moon Prayer of 2017. Visitors can still come to the temple, which is currently adorned with lanterns and other colorful decorations. Activities at the North Capitol Road and the Lacson Street area are still ongoing during this day.

January 29

Several activities will happen at the Bacolod City Government Center by Sunday. But at the Yuan Thong Temple, it will be a sumptuous Vegetarian Food Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ticket holders will enjoy a buffet of various healthy Chinese eats that will nourish the body and the soul.

Although the BacoLaodiat celebration will end on this day, Yuan Thong Temple is still open to visitors during regular days, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In fact, they welcome people who want to join their Tai Chi sessions every 4:30 p.m. during Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. They will also have their Thousand Buddhas Dharma Service on February 2 at 10 a.m. On February 11, there will be a Full Moon Prayer for the Landern Festival at 10 a.m. and a Valentine’s Day Dinner at 7 p.m. (you need to purchase a ticket to take part of the dinner.)

The Chinese New Year celebration is observed globally and is part of an ancient tradition. As Master Zhi Yi pointed out to us, they aim to let Filipinos appreciate the Chinese culture, and vice versa, as well as provide a better understanding of Buddhism to other faiths and religions. My travels in Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, China and Taiwan have allowed me to get a glimpse of their practices and principles. One of the things I have learned while being in another culture is to find the commonalities that connect us all together and, at the same time, recognize the value of our respective unique qualities.

So get those angpaos ready. Have some tikoy. Welcome the Year of the Rooster. Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!


Claire Marie Algarme blogs at Follow her as @firsttimetravel on Twitter and Instagram.