Here comes spring


Jullie Y. Daza

Don’t look now, there’s one more Chinese festival coming up.

Sen. Imee Marcos was right, greeting the Year of the Rabbit with her Chinese friends and neighbors in San Juan on Jan. 22 and 29, as if in preparation for the coming of spring on Sunday, Feb. 5, day 15 in the lunar calendar. That’s three consecutive fundays of wishing for good things.

To some Chinese people living on the mainland and overseas, the Lantern or Spring Festival on Feb. 5 is just as important, possibly because as in ancient agricultural tradition, spring marks the beginning of renewed life after the depth of winter. Lanterns are lit to rival the light of the full moon, wishing packs are burned to send those wishes sailing up to the moonlit, starlit sky. What magical thinking!

There should be more Imee Marcoses, who (I presume) picked up her knowledge of Chinois lore when she lived in Singapore. As she demonstrated at the Jan. 29 party held in the sprawling Marcos home on P. Guevarra-Ortega, she knows a bucketful about the art of symbols and associations, such as eating noodles uncut to signify long life, enclosing money in red envelopes to stand for riches, gold-wrapped candies to welcome a sweet and wealthy life, and tossing the prosperity salad “the higher the more lucky!” to invite fortune.

Dinner for more than a hundred guests was served on round lauriat tables covered in red, plus one long table reserved for ambassadors, among them the USA’s MaryKay Carlson. I did not see Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian, but he could’ve been in the Jan. 22 batch. Other guests in my line of sight were Mr. and Mrs. Henry Lim Bon Liong, Mila How, Doris Magsaysay Ho, Maja Oliveros Co, George Siy, Wilson Flores, and Maurice Lim, who arrived with Imelda R. Marcos after lunch with the First Family in Malacañang.

Yes, the same IRM, former First Lady who, as Imee reminded her guests via a video clip, went to China in 1974 to ask for Chairman Mao’s help at the height of the “first oil crisis,” the same Mao Zedong who was so taken by the lady’s charm that he would’ve given her the moon if she had but asked.