HONG KONG CELEBRATES YEAR OF THE MONKEY; A TOUCH OF DAVAO

MANILA, January 16, 2004 (BULLETIN) The Year of the Monkey will be celebrated in spectacular style with Hong Kong’s firstever Chinese New Year night parade. Organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), the 2004 Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade is set to take place on the first night of the Lunar New Year, Jan. 22 on a completely new parade route in Tsim Sha Tsui. As the fifth mega-event of the HKTB’s Global Tourism Revival Campaign, which dovetails with the SAR Government’s economic relaunch program, the Parade is intended to lure more visitors to Hong Kong.

HKTB Executive Director Clara Chong noted that the HKTB staged four mega-events under its Global Tourism Revival Campaign during the past few months to sustain the revival of Hong Kong’s tourism, which had experienced a V-shape rebound. In December 2003, Hong Kong welcomed a record-breaking 1.79 million visitors, surpassing the record set only two months earlier in October and bringing the yearly total to 15.5 million. Chong further stated that for the first time in its nine-year history, the Parade would take place in the evening and would feature a dazzling combination of illuminated floats, local and international performing groups and specially designed lighting effects that promise to mesmerize spectators.

To ensure Hong Kong remains truly the global capital of Chinese New Year celebrations worldwide, the HKTB has invited a total of 17 performing groups from 11 countries, the largest number of overseas performing groups since 1998, to take part in the Parade. “This mega-event will provide a platform for the world-famous international performing groups to showcase their own countries’ cultures in front of the global media. Along with renowned performing groups from the Mainland, they will present a captivating blend of traditional Chinese artistry and international cultural performances, fully epitomizing Hong Kong’s fusion of Eastern and Western cultures,” Chong said. For the sixth consecutive year, Cathay Pacific Airways is the Parade’s title sponsor. “As Hong Kong’s airline, Cathay Pacific endeavors to bring the world closer to Hong Kong and to promote the place as Asia’s world city,” said the company’s director and Chief Operating Officer Philip Chen.

To make this unprecedented night parade truly spectacular and impressive, the HKTB has invited from Australia the performance consultant for the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympic Games to create a dazzling fusion of color and light for the Parade, as presented in five major themes. With special lighting effects, music and interactive elements, the audience will be able to enjoy not just a colorful parade but also an interactive multimedia performance along the entire parade route that fully showcases the amazing energy and vibrancy of Hong Kong as Asia’s world city. Chong said that as one of Hong Kong’s famous tourist locations, Tsim Sha Tsui offers not only popular activities and attractions for the visitors but also the magnificent views of Victoria Harbor and the city’s skyline. Altogether there will be 10 brightly illuminated floats and 25 local and international groups participating in the Parade, which will begin at 8 p.m. at Hong Kong Cultural Center. The Parade will then wind its way through Salisbury Road, Canton Road and Kowloon Park Drive before ending at Salisbury Road.

Those who would like an even closer look at the floats can visit the New World Plaza between Jan. 23 and 25, when the elaborately decorated floats will again be on display.

A TOUCH OF DAVAO

(BULLETIN) by Fr. Emeterio E. Barcelon - MRS. Herminia Borromeo’s passing away brought many back to Davao to pay tribute to an extraordinarily generous person who touched many lives in Davao. Together with her husband Rosauro, she was a critical force in the building of St. Paul’s church in Davao not only by their contributions but in monitoring and weekly reporting of the finances of the construction.

The church was filled with people for the funeral Mass last Tuesday, including over 60 priests and two bishops. Efficient no non-sense persons, the Borromeos run the Valderama Lumber in Compostela Valley, a model for replanting and conservation of the timber resources of the nation. Unfortunately with the discovery of gold in the area and the inability of the government to control the gold miners and cutting off of timber cutting permits, the whole operation had to be closed down. It is a pity that the system of renewable source of lumber had to be abandoned. Its small community was complete with hospital, church, schools and even a grade school run by the Ateneo de Davao deep in forest. The atmosphere of Davao allows people to be innovative and active. New this year is the prohibition by the Mayor and City Council of firecrackers and fireworks during Christmas and New Year’s celebration. Most of its citizens are happy at the results of no death or injuries from explosions or firing of guns. It should be the model for the rest of the country against senseless injuries of the New Year celebration.

Thirty years ago, a remarkable sight was young boys and girls dismissed from school walking home at nine in the evening. Then the NPA disturbances came and the streets became unsafe. Today the students and their parents feel safe again to walk the streets at night. They used to say at the time that four out of five persons you meet in the streets of Davao would not have been born in Davao. This is no longer true but the pioneering spirit and generosity of the migrant community seems to have survived. Construction of new homes continue and in contrast to the empty streets of the mid 1980s the streets are filled with cars and people. Davao still has its banana and coconut plantations but the abaca is gone from its rich flat lands. Its mountain areas produce vegetables but its potential still needs to be developed.

The gold mining also has a good potential but is on a standstill because of the new laws and regulations that went overboard with environmental concerns and over protection of the indigenous people’s rights. The gold industry will sooner or later, and hopefully sooner, bring prosperity to the region and the country. The gold in the mountains is of little use to hungry people and to an economy that needs a boost to start it on a roll. There is a lot of talk and hand wringing about our poverty while here is a big potential and opportunity to get out of the poverty doldrums but is hampered by theoretical objections that have influenced unreasonably our recent laws.

The Davaoenos are proud of the new airport finished according to international standards and comparable to the Manila and Cebu airports. Its taxi system is better than any other city in the country and cheaper too. They abound almost anywhere in the city and can be called by phone to arrive in three or four minutes. The pomelos and durians still give the city a unique distinction. Its large variety of fruits is also remarkable. The city can be proud of its peace and order, its fruits, its airport but most of all its spirit of generosity and openness to innovation.

emeterio_barcelon@yahoo.com


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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