(STAR) Food, music, dances, and lots of luck will highlight SM Megamall’s Chinese New Year celebrations as it welcomes the Year of the Ox this January.

Know what’s in store for you for the coming year as one of the country’s top feng shui experts shares her tips. Joy Lim of Charms and Crystals will give a talk on Jan. 21 at 11 p.m. at the mall’s Event Center

Shop for luck at the Chinese Fair from Jan. 26-31 at the Events Center, while stopping for a Oriental henna tattoo, a Chinese Zodiac Exhibit, and a feng shui consultation in the area.

Chinese New Year festivities begin on Jan. 26 with the traditional lion and dragon dance around the mall at 10 a.m. Chinese cultural dances like the Umbrella Dance, Fan Dance, Lantern Dance, and Lotus Dance will then follow at 6 p.m. at the mall’s Events Center. Capping the activities will be a performance by Richard Poon, the Awit Awards Best New Male Artist for 2008 at 7 p.m.

The celebrations continue after Chinese New Year Day itself. Celebrity chef Tristan Encarnacion will demonstrate mouth -watering recipes like chicken pepper fruit stir fry and steamed fish chiu chow style on Jan. 30 at 1 p.m.

There is a Wushu Exhibition on Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. On the same day, kids will have a chance to meet Po of Kung Fu Panda at 5 p.m.

Celebrating Chinese New Year at SM City Manila By Ana G. Kalaw Updated January 25, 2009 12:00 AM

Chinese New Year. Spring Festival. Lunar New Year. Call it whatever you like. It is the most important date in the Chinese calendar and a chance for starting anew for both the Chinese and the non-Chinese who believe heavily in the traditions of this Oriental people. This day and the days leading up to it are definitely dedicated for celebration. And SM City Manila knows this all too well. In fact, the mall has had a slew of events to celebrate the coming lunar new year. A Bahay Tsinoy exhibit, in the last two weeks, depicted in images the long journey of the Chinese Filipino, from their arrival to the Philippines to the hard work they have put in helping build the nation. There were also tai chi exhibitions and fashion shows featuring Chinese costumes.

On Jan 26, Chinese New Year itself, the mall will have “The Dance of the Great Lions” and a book signing of five Tsinoy authors, which will go on until Jan. 28. The events center in the middle of the mall will also be transformed into a Chinese village, a great photo-op venue for shoppers.

SM City Manila, literally right across the Manila City Hall, and in the heart of all of Manila’s historical landmarks (Intramuros is a stone’s throw away) and the University Belt, was launched in April 2000. Housing a department store, supermarket, an Ace Hardware and an SM Appliance Center, among a motley assortment of boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants, SM Manila is a popular hangout. Weekdays are particularly busy and to better deal with the foot traffic during these days, the mall has created a modern look summed up by a very comfortable breastfeeding lounge, a digital cinema experience, gastronomic delights at the food court, a Cyberzone featuring the latest gadgets and trends in technology, hotel-like comfort rooms, and disabled stair lifts. All for the ultimate malling experience in the heart of Manila.

The Chinese New Year is bound to be more enjoyable in this modern retail environment. Here are some establishments and restaurants that will assure an unforgettable celebration.

Homeworld At SM Department Store: Lucky Charms

Yes, 2009 is the Year of the Ox and no one gets you into the bovine spirit better than SM Department Store. In SM Manila, a whole space in the store’s Homeworld section is dedicated to different ceramic or plastic representations of the ox, from the cute to the sublime. These are displayed alongside golden buddhas, some surrounded by coins, some surrounded by more little buddhas, all openly laughing (the Laughing Buddha is particularly good luck in the Eastern tradition), Chinese lanterns in various shapes and colors, figurines of other popular Chinese symbols and other paraphernalia guaranteed to make the celebration of the Chinese New Year as festive as can be.

Downstairs, on the first floor, luck opens its door wide for kids with more oxen choices, but in toy form. Ox, in some instances cows, coin banks, stuffed toys and bean babies and plushies, all in vibrant colors, usher in a very cheerful new year.

The Homeworld section is located at the 3/F of SM Manila department store.

SM Supermarket: New year, new look

One thing that is never absent from every Chinese New Year feast is the tikoy. The glutinous rice cake, also known as the Chinese pudding, prepared fried and dipped in an egg batter, is a staple every Lunar New Year and is given profusely for good luck. This year, go tikoy shopping at the supermarket of SM Manila, where tikoys are available in various sizes and even flavors. These days, the traditional white sugar or brown sugar cakes are displayed alongside pandan, ube or strawberry-flavored tikoy.

While you’re there for your tikoy run, might as well pick up a few food stuff from their newly-renovated meat, poultry and vegetable area. Enjoy shopping for ingredients for your Chinese New Year feast in SM Manila Supermarket’s brightly-lit and spacious display areas and stalls. Fresh meat, poultry and veggies are now displayed in better and more shopping-friendly surroundings.

The supermarket is located at the UG level of SM Manila.

National Book Store: Luck Steady

All of us are a bit curious about feng shui, the Chinese tradition that utilizes the laws of heaven and earth and the elements within it to help one improve life by receiving positive energy or chi. Some of us are even more than just curious and look to it to guide every aspect of our daily lives. Whether you are a die-hard follower or a casual believer, National Book Store in SM Manila has got something for you.

The venerable bookstore chain has books and magazines dedicated to feng shui and its close cousin, Chinese astrology. Authors include respected feng shui consultant Victor Dy and psychic Jojo Acuin, said to be the “Asia-Pacific’s Nostradamus,” who gives astro-horoscopes and is a favorite in the showbiz realm. (He is said to have predicted the Wowowee tragedy in 2006 and his 2009 predictions include Ate Vi winning the vice-presidential slate.)

For more international flavor, Lilian Too, the best-selling feng shui writer and specialist, has books that give detailed readings and advice on how you can be lucky in love, health and wealth based on your sign.

NBS also has feng shui and astrology-inspired planners and date books that give day-to-day advice on how to make each day a fulfilling one.

National Book Store is located at the UG level of SM Manila.

Century Chinese Drugstore: Health is Wealth

For a Chinese drugstore, Century is very modern indeed. The herbs and the out-of-the-ordinary ingredients are still there, however, this time, encased in capsules and sold as “supplements” for both mind and body. Most of the supplements Century has are imported from Hong Kong. An entire wall is stocked with green bottles all touting the latest natural herbal sensation. The most popular are ginseng, collagen and aloe vera. Century Chinese Drugstore offers panax ginseng in softgel capsules. Said to be a natural tonic (read: nature’s Viagra), ginseng furnishes body with vim and vitality and, at the same time, alleviates fatigue and helps postpone aging. It is also good for immunity. The collagen tablets are also great for keeping aging at bay as these help keep skin tight and young-looking. Aloe vera, on the other hand, helps in burning fat and promotes bowel movement. It also whitens and nourishes the skin. (And you thought is was only good as a hair tonic.)

Century Chinese Drugstore is located at the UG level of SM Manila.

Meylin Pot and Noodle: Long Road to Success

Eating noodles isn’t just a birthday thing. The whole superstition about eating noodles for a long and prosperous life also extends to Chinese New Year celebrations. Indeed, the lucky dish is present in every CNY menu. In Meylin Pot and Noodle House, however, noodle consumption is an everyday thing, a specialty that brings, if not luck, a momentary sense of fulfillment to restaurant patrons.

Jerry Ngo, manager of the noodle house’s SM Manila branch, is especially proud of their fresh, hand-made-from-scratch noodles. Made of flour, oil and special Chinese ingredients, Meylin’s tasty and resilient noodles go especially well with their made-daily soup bases, all three of them. “Hindi tayo nandadaya ng tao,” says Ngo. Meylin has soup bases each for their beef, chicken and seafood noodle dishes, a rare offering when other noodle houses offer all their noodle dishes with just one soup base, usually a slightly-salted chicken stock and water mix (not a good thing for pesco-vegetarians or vegans).

The pata tim is also a source of Meylin pride. The insanely tender pork dish is marinated for half a day in a special sweet sauce before cooking, ensuring down-to-the-bone goodness. Another favorite is the steamed fish fillet, a dish simmering in special, sili-peppered soy sauce.

Meylin Pot and Noodle House is located at the LG level of SM Manila.

Wok Yan: Fast Food for Thought

Never discount food court fare as a cheap free-for-all buffet. Wok Yan, one of the kiosks in SM Manila’s Food Court section, does have its point-and-choose offerings, a varied array of Tsinoy cuisine favorites: salt and pepper pork, calamari, pata tim, chicken with oyster sauce and fish fillet in garlic butter sauce, among others. With set menus going for P65 to P75, a Chinese New Year lunch at Wok Yan is a cheap but cheerful treat. However, if your stomach has three minutes to spare, Wok Yan’s cook-upon-order menu dishes are worth the extra wait. Specialties include stuffed squid, steamed lapu-lapu (a novelty at P120 in a time where fish prices are shockingly high), sambal shrimps, crispy lemon chicken and mixed seafood. After a meal at Wok Yan, you’ll probably wax more positive about fast food.

Wok Yan is located in the Foodcourt at the LG level of SM Manila.

Salazar Bakery: Pastries for Prosperity

What started out as a small bakery in Ongpin’s Salazar St. 60 years ago is now a respectable chain with branches across SM Malls, one of them in SM Manila. Salazar Bakery may be now selling bread, pastries and cakes for all occasions but it still sticks to its traditional products, namely hopia, mooncake, and for the Chinese New Year, the irreplaceable tikoy. The bakery, however, has given a new twist on the glutinous treat with ready-to-eat tikoy. Packaged in plastic and served bite-sized, the ready-to-eat tikoy cleverly eliminates the deep-frying and egg preparations. Made without preservatives, they come either sesame seed or sugar-coated or, just like hopia, filled with monggo.

The traditional tikoy, however, remains a bestseller. Choose from one made with either white or brown sugar.

Salazar Bakery is located at the LG level of SM Manila.

Lucky colors for the Year of the Earth Ox By Ching M. Alano Updated January 25, 2009 12:00 AM

Wouldn’t life be so drab without color? Of course, there are colors that simply make you look good and feel good, and then there are the lucky colors that attract good fortune in the Year of the Earth Ox.

At the annual forecast of Joseph Chau at the Mandarin Oriental, Manila, the noted geomancer named the following as the lucky colors in the Year of the Ox: green, beige, yellow, brown, light blue, sky blue, silver, and black. But if you’re curious (yellow) about what the world’s color experts say, here goes: Bright, vivid yellow is the top color for 2009. With the global economic recession giving us the blues, yellow screams optimism and hope.

The experts also say that purple will continue to reign in various reincarnations — as grayed-out violet and redder purple, for instance.

Don’t be blue, but think blue — as in clear, blue skies. Yes, blue is the new eco-friendly green.

Given the uncertain times, if you want to play safe, go for brown and grey. They’re old reliables you wouldn’t want to discard like a good old friend.

All these colors — and more — you’ll find in the many assorted name brands at SM Manila, located in the heart — or is it the belly? — of the pulsating city. Added good news is that a lot of the stores are offering discounts of up to 50 percent to welcome the Year of the Ox! Shouldn’t you feel so lucky?

Have a colorful 2009!

American Boulevard: Hats Off To 2009!

What’s hot at American Boulevard at SM Manila? The hats or caps, of course! They’re cap collectors’ snazzy finds. No need to pass the hat as these avid collectors are willing to shell out a nifty sum for these chic beauties, that luckily sell for only P499 to P699.

Hats off, too, to the store’s wide assortment of products that include shirts for him and her, jackets, recyclable totes (now, how very toteful of them), dresses, accessories, ID and cell phone holders.

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The American Boulevard is at the third floor of SM Manila with telephone number 521-3268.

Arrow: A Sure Hit

Arrow, a US brand, is on target. When it comes to men’s polo shirts, Arrow is a certified hit. The short-sleeved polos are from P1,499.75 to P1,699.75. The best-selling colors, according to officer-in-charge Sheryl Beato, are purple — yes, these days, a lot of men no longer cower like shrinking violets at the sight of purple. Fact is, they wear it like a badge of honor. Green and pastel hues are hot, too.

But of course, Arrow also has something for women, like those chic jackets, now offered at 20-percent off up to Jan. 31.

It’s bull’s-eye for Arrow!

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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