Raucous dragon dance exhibits have been banned in Manila’s Chinatown as a result of pandemic, casting apart a crowd-drawing Lunar New 12 months custom many imagine helps drive misfortunes away.
The Philippine authorities’s ban on giant public gatherings and avenue events to battle the coronavirus dealt a giant blow to a whole lot of dragon dancers and manufacturing crews who’re struggling to seek out different sources of revenue.
“There would have been giant crowds eager to drive away the distress and unhealthy luck, however our avenue dance exhibits had been prohibited this yr,” mentioned Therry Sicat, a Filipino slum-dweller who along with his siblings manages one in every of a number of dragon dance troupes in Chinatown.
“If we had 100% enjoyable previously, I solely really feel 30% of that this time round. It’s actually miserable,” mentioned the 31-year-old, whose spouse is pregnant with their fourth youngster.
The absence of the dragon dances is a palpable signal for a lot of Manila residents that the pandemic disaster that shut down a lot of Manila’s economic system and locked down thousands and thousands of Filipinos of their properties is spilling over properly into this yr. However Sicat, his siblings and their households are preventing to maintain the Chinese language custom — and their livelihood — alive.
After the dragon dances had been banned by Manila’s mayor, Sicat and his household used their Styrofoam, paint and different dragon costume-making supplies to craft ornamental miniature Chinese language-style lion heads as a substitute. The colourful gadgets have change into successful on-line and fill their small creek-side residence with hope and pleasure. About 200 have been offered thus far, priced at 1,500 pesos ($30) every, he mentioned.
Different members of his dragon dance troupe, which employs about 50 dancers, have arrange on-line meals companies or are working as motorbike meals deliverymen to make ends meet, Sicat mentioned.
Sicat’s earnings from the ornamental lion heads are only a fraction of the revenue generated by their dragon dance exhibits previously. Throughout the busy Lunar New 12 months season in previous years, a Chinatown enterprise institution would pay 35,000 pesos ($720) for a session of dragon and lion dancing accompanied by drummers and merrymakers for good luck.
Sicat nonetheless brims with optimism regardless of the dire financial occasions in one of many international locations hardest hit by the pandemic in Southeast Asia. He mentioned he appears to be like ahead to the return of the hope-inspiring dragon dances and to listening to the drums once more.
“There’s no Chinese language New 12 months, however we’re all wholesome. We will survive this pandemic,” Sicat mentioned.
The Philippines has reported greater than 540,000 COVID-19 circumstances, the second highest quantity in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, and 11,296 deaths. It’s negotiating with seven Western and Asian pharmaceutical corporations to acquire COVID-19 vaccines, with the primary batches anticipated to reach subsequent week.
About 70 million Filipinos are to be vaccinated with the hope that it’s going to assist Manila’s devastated economic system bounce again.