Celebration of the Spring Festival 2018
Dr. Nestor Alonso ll (The Freeman) - March 2, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Spring Festival, or the Chinese New Year, is the most important Chinese holiday. The Chinese people throughout the world unite as one in celebrating a ritual that their most honorable ancestors began about 4,000 years ago. There are 15 countries that list the Spring Festival as one of their public holidays, including Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. Citizens with ethnic Chinese origins in Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and the U.S.A. also celebrate this festival.

Chinese New Year’s Eve is the most auspicious time of the year to hold an annual family reunion, eat good food and drink good wine together, with prayers for the family’s health, wealth and happiness. Top players of the hospitality industry have a habit of vigorously competing with one another to host the most elaborate celebration to usher in the Spring Festival. This year, 2018, is the Year of the Earth Dog.

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu faithfully followed all the traditional ceremonies to welcome the Lunar New Year. General manager Brian Connelly and Consul General Shi Yong from the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China in Cebu presided over the Wushu display, Lion Dance and Eye Dotting, Firecrackers, Dragon Dance, Yee Shang Tossing Ceremony, tossing of coins and the Chinese Banquet.

The hotel has excelled in Yee Shang using a three-meter giant iron wok as the mixing bowl and five-meter chopsticks. I picked eight coins following Feng Shui instructions and enjoyed a glass of wine, with former Governor LitoOsmeña and Congressman Raul del Mar.

The Chinese Lauriat began with the Appetizers – Huadiao Wine Drunken Chicken, Bean Curd Skin Rolls, Barbecue Pork and Crab Rangoon (also called Crab Puffs). It was followed a Chinese Medicinal Soup, Double Boiled Black Chicken with Herbs, Fish Maw, Conpoy, Ginseng and Dried Mushrooms. It’s been years since I had last tasted this delicious soup; and at that time, I nodded in agreement with former Marco G.M. Hans Hauri that the best dish served then was the Double Boiled Chicken Soup.

Main dishes were Barbecue Peking Duck, Dry Sautéed King Prawn in Black Pepper Sauce, Wok-Fried Broccoli Crispy Scallop with Crab Fat Sauce, Steamed Whole Grouper Hong Kong Style, Twice Cooked Pigeon with Shaoxing & Black Mushroom, Lobster Chow Mein and Yang Chow Fried Rice.

Fish was served because, the Chinese for “fish” is a homophone of “abundance”; and when it is steamed whole, it supposedly means “consecutive bonus.” I went for the cheeks of the fish which was quite plump and very delicious. Duck dishes were also my favorite and indeed it was very good. I left some food on my plate because Chinese etiquette requires that there must be “leftovers” to symbolize abundant provisions in the coming year.

Dessert was quite appetizing with Freshly Cut Fruits served with Black Sesame Ice Cream. Tradition also requires that a gift, excuse me, is also given and I went home with a package filled with a dog doll.

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