by Sigrid Salucop
A flood of women in red gowns and men wearing the same color greeted the Manny O. party upon our arrival at the Manila Hotel. The event started with the traditional dragon dance while guests sipped Manny O’s red wine and snacked on dumplings. While the Philippines’ King of Talk Boy Abunda was happily hosting the event with Feng Shui expert Marites Allen, we spotted Manila’s mayor Alfredo Lim, members of the glitterati, and a few celebrities.
|From L-R Princess Tishreen Mariam I. Bahjin from the Royal House of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, Sigrid Salucop, and Manny O. Wines' Brand Manager Yes Tirol Dumagan|
The Chinese New Year is an important event in the Philippines’ Chinese community and is also welcomed with a grand festivity among many Filipinos. While Allen talked about the Year of the Water Dragon, those who were not intently listening to her Feng Shui advice started reading the Horoscope Forecast for 2012 that Allen wrote.
The Chinese New Year celebration also known as the Spring Festival in Mainland China has been brought to the Philippines by Chinese traders centuries ago. The festival itself has been around for centuries and involves several myths and traditions. In the case of the Manila Hotel celebration however, the festivity was a good mix of modern elegance and Chinese rituals.
|From L-R Rachelle Ann de Guman, Princess Tishreen, Boy Abunda, Sigrid Salucop|
|The King of Talk Boy Abunda and Manny O. Wines' Brand Manager Yes Tirol Dumagan|
After the dragon dance and dividing the participants according to their animal year groups guests drank more wine courtesy of Manny O. The merrymaking continued and while we were on our way to the hotel’s parking lot, we took the chance of taking a few photos with Boy Abunda while Manny O. Wines’ Brand Manager Yes Tirol Dumagan discussed a few things with the talk show host. It seems there’s nothing better than starting the Chinese New Year right by doing business.
At the parking lot, guests were given a balloon each. The balloons served as messengers to the heavens for the wishes of the people who participated in the celebration. Before the clock struck 12:01 however, we chanted the Tibetan Mantra of Chenrezi Om Mani Padme Hum. The mantra either sung out loud or silently invokes the blessings and attention of the benevolent Chenrezig –the deity of compassion. According to experts, these four words cannot be translated into one simple phrase but it does invoke all the teachings of Buddhism. The usual explanation however involves the growth of a lotus flower and how wonderful it is that it can still look beautiful even if it grows from muddy water.
|The balloons were released at exactly 12:01 on January 23, 2011|
|Hundreds of wishes aim for the sky|
Still holding a wine glass filled with Manny O.’s finest wine, I chanted with over a hundred people before we finally released the balloons to the heavens. We were all facing the southeast –the direction where according to Marites Allen, wealth and happiness will be coming from this year. Like any other New Year’s celebration, we greeted the Chinese New Year with fireworks.
After the beautiful fireworks display, we headed back inside the hotel to partake in the festivity's prosperity dinner. Before the sumptuous meal however, each table had to mix the prosperity salad for good luck. The prosperity dinner is an important part of the celebration because the dishes symbolize luck, wealth, and longevity for the new year. The buffet included an array of sumptuous dishes such as Dried Fried Shrimp Glazed with Almonds, Steamed Garoupa Fillet in Brown Sauce, and of course, Tikoy or Nian Gao.
|The prosperity salad is a mix of pomelo, dried cranberries, nuts, sliced mangoes in clam sauce, carrots, cucumbers and a sprinkling of black and white pepper among other ingredients.|
|The auspicious meal was prepared by Manila Hotel's Executive Chinese Chef Sun Bing|
Manny O. Wines is a major sponsor of the grand festivity at the Manila Hotel held January 22-23, 2012. An award-winning company, Manny O. Wines brought home 8 major awards from Hong Kong’s International Wine competition last November 2011.