13th Spring Film Festival: Opening the New Year Through Culture

Written by Wyce Co, Joel Lim, and Aaron Medina.      Edited by Matthew Yuching and Denise Joaquin.

Photo Header by Hannah Sy.

Nothing enlivens the local Chinese-Filipino community more than the yearly Spring Film Festival. Held last January 30, 2019 in the Shangri-La Plaza, the festival’s week-long celebration started with the Gala Night, which presented a diverse set of performances and other cultural activities dedicated to the promotion of the Chinese-Filipino culture.

Filled with dozens of bright red lanterns hanging from the ceiling, the Grand Atrium glowed with exceptional beauty, making it the perfect venue for the festivities. Several rows of Chinese art works made by various artists of the Confucius Institute also lined the Atrium.

A traditional Chinese lion dance by the Tong Sun Dragon and Lion Dance Group opened the Gala Night, after which Ateneo Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies Chairperson Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J., gave the opening remarks. Fr. Ben highlighted the importance of bridging both the Chinese and Filipino cultures. And what better way to do that than through the celebration of the festival?

Welcoming remarks by Shangri-La Operations Head Johnny Rios, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China Cultural Department First Secretary Mr. Haitao Jiang, and Film Development Council of the Philippines Film Development Support Division Lead Officer Ms. Wilma Isleta also graced guests.

The winners of the Little Mr. and Ms. Chinatown also impressed guests in a cultural fashion show. From the traditional warrior outfit to the elegant empress ensemble, the winners walked and posed with confidence and pride. Afterwards, Management Senior Joshe Tiu took the stage and stunned the crowd with the sultry sound of his saxophone.

Dr. Rosita Leong, board member of the Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, also personally conveyed birthday greetings in Chinese to Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, S.J., Ateneo de Manila University President, who happened to be celebrating his birthday on the same day.

After the program, the lion dance led guests to the Red Carpet Cinema where they watched the movie Our Time Will Come, directed by Ann Hui. Once there, President of Ateneo Celadon and Katreena Chang gave her remarks before the screening of the movie.

The festival also made its mark within the Ateneo campus as Ateneans enjoyed the free screening of the movies A Tale of Three Cities, I Belonged to You, and The Third Way of Love in the Leong Hall auditorium. Together with Ateneo Celadon’s Chinese New Year Food Festival, the campus saw a very generous sharing of the Chinese-Filipino culture. To conclude the festivities, a talk by Mr. Michael Zhan, Huaqiao University Representative to the Philippines, enlightened Ateneans interested in studying and applying in the said university.  

“Given the thrusts of Celadon, I believe that this project can fulfill the org’s goals well,” said Spring Film Festival Project Manager Franklin Co Ng, referring to how the organization aims to bridge the Chinese and Filipino cultures.

“Heading the project was quite an experience,” said Co Ng’s Co-project Manager, Kyle Kang, who has been involved with the festival since his freshman year. “We expected to have a lot of time, given that it is a second semester project. However, we started on it pretty much as soon as the school started.” However, seeing the satisfied film viewers and guests “was very fulfilling”.

The Spring Film Festival never fails in becoming one of the hottest Chinese-Filipino events, and this year’s celebrations certainly didn’t fail in that regard. From the Shangri-La Plaza to the Ateneo campus and from lion dances to painting workshops, we can only wait in excitement for what’s to come in the next one.

13th Spring Film Festival core team and volunteers with Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies Director Ms. Jubilee Ong. Photo by Archie Onglim

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