It’s Chinese New Year, and the Chinese are celebrating. In China, there are traffic jams, busy airports and bus stations, and general chaos as people go home to celebrate with their families.

And in much of SEAsia, those with Chinese ancestry are also celebrating.
But here in the Provinces of the Philippines, except for promotions in some of the stores, it’s not a holiday. You see, although the Chinese have run most of the businesses here for a couple hundred years, and many of our leading families have Chinese blood because they intermarried with Pinays, most non Chinese Philipinos don’t celebrate this “imported” holiday outside of Manila or larger cities.

But for those who celebrate, it’s mainly, like all Pinoy festivals, about food, family, and more food.

The bad news is that the leading Chinese soothsayers are predicting a year of bad things, like unrest and epidemics. Oh well.

And Chinese in Muslim countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are now keeping the pig part quiet so as not to offend Muslim sensibilities. One imman warned them not to eat pig in public. What’s that saying, first they came for unveiled women, then they came for my lechon….Hmmm…since other animals such as dog are considered unclean to Islam, it looks like they may have to rewrite the entire zodiac to be Politically correct.

And it’s not just the Muslims who are offended.

A bunch of PETA protesters led by the head of their Asia outreach– a man with a suspiciously European name– are handing out leaflets in Manila saying eating pork is murder and pigs are nice, and if you eat pork for the new year, you will die of high cholesterol so go vegan.

I am always contemptuous of people more worried about pigs than the thousands of malnourished street kids in Manila, so I wrote a comment on the story saying they had convinced me: Instead, I will celebrate the Chinese new year with Aso stew…

No, Puti, just joking…we don’t eat dog here. But if you keep biting the neighbors, we might start.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines with her husband, six dogs, including a Lab named Puti, three cats, and a large extended family. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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