In celebration of the arts and the footprints of the Chinese in the Philippines, the Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies hosted its 17th Spring Film Festival at the Shangri-la Plaza on January 16, 2023. Together with the Ateneo Celadon, the Chinese-Filipino student organization of the Ateneo de Manila University, the first day of the weeklong event was an important opportunity to welcome the Year of the Rabbit in the midst of the busy and culturally diverse district of Ortigas.
Held exactly a week before the Lunar New Year of 2023, the event highlighted the great leaps in the arts and the efforts of numerous individuals to promote a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural ties between China and the Philippines. The introductory speeches by Ricardo C. Leong and Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.J. emphasized the vitality of these ties in light of the contributions of the Chinese community to Philippine society over the years. According to them, China’s growing position in international affairs can no longer be ignored, and China will be an important partner as the Philippines moves forward. Their speeches were accompanied by a video that showed the successes of the Ricardo Center for Chinese Studies in bridging gaps between communities and training future leaders in cultural sensitivity and global consciousness. Huang Xilian, China’s ambassador to the Philippines, also extended his greetings and his support through a pre-recorded message.
Guests were graced with impressive performances from the Xavier Dragon and Lion Dance troupe, the playing of the guzheng instrument by Wenjun Yan, and popular songs with mixed lyrics in Mandarin and English by Aaron Ernest Ang. Everyone inside the mall could hear the sound of drums and the Chinese classical music traditionally played during the Lunar New Year. All of these performances were designed to promote the theme of bringing people together through the arts.
The first day was also the gala night, and the winning candidates of the 2022 “Mr. and Ms. Chinatown Philippines” also delivered a short program. These candidates were renowned for their achievements and the way they have let their Chinese-Filipino backgrounds fuel their aspirations in life and for the community. All of this was to celebrate the Chinoy youth and to invite them to build bridges as well, and to dedicate their talents to greater causes.
The night ended with a free screening of the Shanghainese-language film “B for Busy” at the Red Carpet Cinema. The 17th SFF will also hold free screenings of other popular Chinese films, as well as a Chinese painting workshop, a weeklong art exhibit, and other highlights until the 22nd of January. Overall, the event left an entertaining and educational spectacle to welcome the Year of the Rabbit.