How many holidays in the Philippines do you know of that celebrate a culture that is not entirely Filipino?
Chinese New Year is a good example. Filipinos celebrate this to honor their centuries-long bond with their fellow Asian nation. The Philippines is said to have had close ties with China long before the Spanish colonization in the 1500s.
Today, the Chinese Filipino community has spread out in highly urbanized areas like Manila and Cebu. Over the years they have played a role in influencing Chinese Filipino culture, including various beliefs and practices.
Some Cebu City tourist spots even highlight their Chinese heritage when it comes to food, products, and religion.
Bright red lanterns, statues of dragons, and other Chinese paraphernalia can be seen adorning many of Cebu’s well known attractions, making them go-to locations for special holidays like Chinese New Year.
If you want to spend the holiday learning more about the Chinese Filipino lifestyle, here are several tourist spots you can visit this 2024.
Taoist Temple has been a fixture in Cebu’s top tourist attractions for years. The place itself is a multi-tiered tower that overlooks the city.
It is primarily a house of prayer for Taoists in Cebu. Because of its China-like ambiance, you can find many Chinese Filipino families visiting and paying their respects.
Standing by the side of a mountain, visitors are to climb 81 steps (which represent the writing of Taoism) to get to the top. The area is filled with Chinese symbolism like traditional temples and green dragon statues.
Despite its status as a tourist spot, it is still a house of prayer with strict guidelines that visitors are required to follow. Guests have to wear decent attire – short skirts and pants are prohibited.
You are also not allowed to take photos inside the main temple as a sign of respect.
Taoist Temple is located in Beverly Hills, a quiet subdivision with strict guidelines regarding entering as well. If you wish to get inside, you should take a taxi or a car because they don’t allow motorcycle taxis in.
SUGBU CHINESE HERITAGE MUSEUM
If you want details on how the Chinese influenced Filipinos, you can visit the Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum across Cebu City Hall.
This Chinese Filipino museum has two floors, with a range of artifacts and antiques on display, including models of popularly traded items, important documents, and dioramas portraying the interactions between the Chinese and the pre-colonial Cebuanos.
The most notable exhibit is the massive model of a junk ship. These large vessels were used by Chinese traders to traverse the rivers of the Philippines. The diorama also has figures of the crew, showcasing their activities while aboard the ship.
The museum was previously known as the Gotiaoco Building, the first structure in Cebu with a functioning air conditioning unit and elevator. The latter is included in one of the museum’s exhibits.
The Sugbu Chinese Heritage Museum is open from Fridays to Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
With Chinese New Year 2024 falling on a Saturday, the museum can expect more than a few visitors eager to learn about the history of the Chinese Filipino community.
DING QUA QUA
There are so many restaurants in Cebu that specialize in Chinese cuisine that it is almost impossible to pick which one is best to go to for the holiday.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly buffet with a variety of delicious dimsum options, Ding Qua Qua is highly recommended.
This well-known Chinese restaurant offers unlimited dimsum for less than Php500 per head. They offer famous Chinese dishes like dumplings, spring rolls, and noodles.
Their steamed rice is a must try not only for its flavor, but also because you get to make it yourself. You can add as much rice, sauce, or meat as you want, and come back for seconds.
Ding Qua Qua has two branches, with the Cebu City branch located on the second floor of JY Square mall in Lahug.
DOWNTOWN CEBU AND ITS CHINESE ESTABLISHMENTS
We can also expect the Cebu City government to have their own celebration of the Chinese New Year. The streets of downtown Cebu have already started hanging red lanterns to highlight the upcoming holiday.
The area could be considered a Chinatown of sorts, with small-scale establishments selling Chinese products and memorabilia. You can find these in the various shopping centers, convenience stores, apparel shops, and pharmacies around the area.
The Gaisano Malls are owned by a Chinese Filipino family, and they have several branches on the island.
You can expect Gaisano to be just as festive for Chinese New Year, displaying various Chinese products like figurines and statues that are sold at a cheaper price compared to other commercial malls.
Business is something many Chinese people are knowledgeable about, with some of the richest families in the Philippines coming from a Chinoy bloodline. It’s no wonder that many Chinese Filipino establishments continue to thrive to this day.
This February 10th, you may opt to visit the aforementioned places to immerse yourself in Chinese Filipino culture. They are all conveniently located in Cebu City, and you can take a tour to all of them within a day.
You can also visit major landmarks like shopping malls and public parks to see what they have in store for Chinese New Year. You will surely feel the festive cheer all around the city.
Kung Hei Fat Choi!