Naga’s Tsinoys mark Chinese new year

Edsel Tan, the Tai-chi master shows his moves during a demonstration of the ancient Chinese martial arts.

NAGA CITY- Every Chinese New Year, not only members of the city’s Chinese- Filipino –community known as Tsinoys but also local residents from barangays of Lerma, Tabuco and Triangulo near the Taoist Temple at Balintawak Street here, flocked to the temple grounds for good fortune and prosperity from the “Taoist gods”.

Edsel Tan, a young Tsinoy entrepreneur and martial arts teacher of “Tai-chi” said members of the Chinese-Filipino community in Naga City wanted to preserve the tradition of the ancient Chinese religion “Taoism”, which worshiped patron, “Sam-Tai-Chi” and other minor gods.

Basically, the tradition asked the gods for good fortune, prosperity and long life which are common favors requested by local Tsinoys, who are mostly in local trading, food business, real-estates, hotel and restaurants, Tan said.

Bonifacio “Jun” Sia, whose family owns the oldest office and book supply store in this city, also said, “during Chinese New Year, we give back something to the community that hosted Tsinoys to become prosperous in this city.”

Every Chinese New Year, members of the Taoist Temple distribute food packs and groceries to poor residents , while misua soup cooked with pork andpeanuts, and “tikoy”, sticky rice cakes are offered for snacks to temple goers and visitors.

Former Naga City Councilor Jun Lavadia told local journalists visiting the temple that “the establishment of the Taoist Temple, which is now over 40-years old is proof of the immersion of the Chinese Culture in a city founded by the Spaniards some 500 years ago,” when the first Spanish settlement was built, which was called “Ciudad de Nueva Caceres”.

He said many Tsinoy families in Naga City still have ties with their clans living in Fujian province in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

He recalled that in the early term of the late Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, who was a Tsinoy himself, the city government in 1988 made ties with a city in Fujian, as a sister city of Naga City.

Another former Naga City mayor, Sulpicio “Cho” Roco, brother of the late Sen. Raul Roco, formalized the signing of the sisterhood agreement with the said Chinese city during his term in the early 1990s, Lavadia said.

In a rare display of traditional Chinese Martial Arts, Tan, a “Tai-chi” master showed his skills in “Tai-chi”, an old school in the Chinese Martial Arts, during Chinese New Year’s Day celebration at the Taoist Temple here. “Tai-chi”, whose slow movement and steps are indulged by many elderly as a form of calisthenics, or a daily workout, and both an offensive and defensive Chinese martial arts.

Tan handles a group of over 50 “Tai-chi” enthusiasts, who conducted their thrice a week early morning workout at the grounds of the Naga City Metropolitan Cathedral.

Unlike the “zumba” workouts being held at the city’s Plaza Quezon attended by young mothers, female professionals, primarily to get rid of excess fats, the “Tai-chi” handled by Tan is mostly for senior citizens.

Manuel Reyes Tan, 81, a school teacher of the defunct Chiang Kai-shek, a Chinese school in Iriga City, said they are glad the “Tai-chi” workout was revived for physical fitness, which started only in July 2018.

He said the “Tai-chi” activity has already drawn a growing number of elderly enthusiasts, who are mostly suffering from various illnesses due to old age. But they have now a much improved state of health, after doing “Tai-chi”.

“Tai-chi” is indorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), as a vital physical fitness for good health among all ages, Tan said.