Xin Nián Kuài Lè
Dr. Nestor Alonso II (The Freeman) - February 8, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Last February 5, the Chinese all over the world greeted one another “Xin nián kuài lè” (Happy New Year) for the Year of the Pig. It was the first day of the Spring Festival in China, Korea, Vietnam and Mongolia. Countries with large numbers of ethnic Chinese like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand – and the Philippines – also joined in the festivities with a public holiday.


The Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day is the most auspicious time of the year to hold a family reunion, eat good food and drink good wine with prayers for the family’s health, wealth and happiness. This has led to the Chunyun, the world’s largest annual human migration with three billion bookings on planes, trains, boats and bus.

In Cebu, the leaders in the hospitality industry compete with each other to host the most elaborate celebration in ushering in the Spring Festival. Rivalry is particularly intense in the quality and quantity of food served at the banquet. It is customary to create dishes and delicacies that are viewed as symbols of prosperity, abundance, success, power and wealth.

Jpark Island Resort & Waterpark, Cebu faithfully performed all the traditional ceremonies to welcome the Lunar New Year. Consul General Jia Li of the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China in Cebu and Jpark chairman and president Justin Uy presided over the Lion Dance/Eye Dotting, Firecrackers, tossing of coins, Dragon Dance, Wushu display and the Yee Shang Tossing Ceremony. (Yee Sang is a salad consisting of raw fish as the primary ingredient, and the rest being mixed and tossed together; the higher the toss, the better for luck.)

F&B manager Christopher Shim and the four Jpark chefs set up seven food stations: Live Grill, Salads & Sushi, International Appetizers, Filipino Station, Korean, Chinese and Dessert. The hotel decided for an international banquet be served to its multinational guests and friends while observing Chinese food etiquette – like dishes with white color are not served because white is the color of mourning; and “lugaw” (porridge) is taboo, excuse me, because it brings poverty.

At the Live Grill station were vegetables, prawns, tuna panga, lechon belly and US beef in various stages of cooking to make sure that the specialities will be as hot as possible when served. The Salad and Sushi station served Chilled Jelly Fish (Thai), Kimbap, California Roll and various Sashimi and Sushi types with a huge whole fresh tuna on display, ready to be sliced for diners. 

Appetizers were Salmon Gravlax (raw salmon in salt, sugar and dill), Air Dried Ham with Rock Melon, Vietnamese Fresh Spring Roll, and many more. Filipino specialties like Cebu Lechon and Larang Soup were also served.

There were so much food to choose from and, as usual, to be able to taste as many dishes as possible, I had only one tablespoon of each of these lovely dishes. The Grilled US Beef, Cream Dory Fillet, Lamb Stew and Roast Peking Duck were among the dishes to my liking. I also had to observe Chinese Spring Festival protocol and purposely left some food on my plate, because a leftover signifies abundance in the coming year.

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