Bacolaodiat Festival highlights strong Filipino-Chinese cultural ties

Bacolaodiat Festival chair John Stephen Sy (center) with Bacolod City Councilors Al Victor Espino, Jason Villarosa, Cindy Rojas, Claudio Jesus Puentevella and Jude Thaddeus Sayson, and Bacolaodiat Inc. board member Alfredo Barcelona (l-r) light incense sticks during the opening of the 2024 Bacolaodiat Festival Friday afternoon.*Ronnie Baldonado photo

The staging of the Bacolaodiat Festival, one of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations in the Philippines, highlights the strong connection between the city and the Filipino-Chinese community in Bacolod.

The three-day festival, taken from the words “Baco” for Bacolod and “Lao Diat”, a Fookien term for celebration, is now on its 19th edition and has returned to the original site in North Capitol Road and Lacson Street this year.

During the opening ceremony Friday afternoon, Councilor Jason Villarosa, chairperson of the local council’s Committee on Tourism, said the local Chinese-Filipino community has always been actively participating in the affairs of the city.

“One way to promote the Filipino-Chinese community and their culture is the celebration of Bacolaodiat Festival,” he said.

Villarosa said he is proposing to double the financial assistance of the city government to the organizers — from P5 million this year to P10 million in 2025.

“It’s for our tourism promotion. Now, we only have one festival site. We hope to have a bigger celebration,” he added.

Bacolaodiat Festival chair John Stephen Sy acknowledged the strong partnership between the city government and the local Chinese-Filipino community through the years.

“The unwavering support of our partners, especially the city government, has played a vital role in shaping Bacolaodiat into such a grand cultural event,” he said.

The kickoff event also featured the Bacolaodiat Street Dance Competition, featuring six contingents dancing along 13th to 5th-Lacson Streets, followed by the opening of the Chopsticks Alley and the Imperial Village at the North Capitol Road.

The participants in the streetdance competition.*Ronnie Baldonado photos

A cultural show “A Night in the Middle Kingdom” was also staged at the North Capitol Road stage.

At midnight on Friday, the FGS Yuan Thong Temple held Dharma prayers and the traditional hitting of the bell to mark the start of the Year of the Wood Dragon.

On Saturday, the conferment ceremony designating tycoon Lucio Co as the adopted son and honorary mayor of Bacolod City will be held at the Government Center in the morning, and the Bacolaodiat Lantern Dance Competition will follow in the evening.

The winners of the street and lantern dance competition will be announced on Sunday afternoon, after which the awarding ceremonies for special events will be held also at the North Capitol Road.

To secure the three-day festivities, the Bacolod City Police Office deployed some 500 personnel along with about 300 force multipliers.

Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said “we welcome the Lunar New Year 2024 with wishes for enlightenment, strength, courage and prosperity for all. To all Bacolodnons a very happy Chinese New Year”.

“Let the celebration of the Year of the Wooden Dragon signal a fresh start for all – united Bacolodnons working together for our super city,” he said.

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said the Filipino-Chinese community “has long proven to be a strong ally of the government in our quest for nation building”.

“With that, I extend my appreciation and wishes for abundance, peace, and love this New Year,” he added.*PNA

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