Of tikoy and Pinoys

Absurd as a unifying symbol it may be, but we could make the ‘tikoy’ a good takeaway to achieve the decades-old dream of unity among us Filipino.

You know Chinese New Year is coming when the ubiquitous tikoy is just about everywhere.

As the world celebrates the entry of the Water Rabbit in the Lunar New Year three days from now, you must have already had your fill of the sticky rice cake that has found its way into the hearts and stomachs of Filipinos.

Usually packaged in red boxes and given as gifts to friends and associates, the tikoy has long been regarded as a traditional symbol of the Chinese celebration.

Made from glutinous rice, mixed with lard, water, and sugar, the name tikoy comes from the Chinese words ‘ti’ and ‘ke’ which together mean “sweet cake”.

Chinese belief has it that the tikoy ensures a year of sweetness and good cheer in the family. Its round shape signifies money, prosperity, and continuous loving relationships.

Whereas the sticky rice cake was originally white, it now comes in many colors and flavors including ube, pandan, sweet corn, monggo, and even butterscotch.

The Chinese regard the tikoy as a symbol of unity and togetherness such that families make it a must to have it a part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Doing so, they say, keeps the family together all year round.

That’s Chinese lore for you.

There are many other lessons one can learn from this age-old practice of celebrating the yearly festival with fantastic dragon dances, jaw-dropping fireworks, and a feast with family and friends.

Although this year’s merriment has been tamed somewhat by the pandemic, there’s no stopping people, particularly the Chinese, from celebrating arguably the most important holiday in this part of the world.

Traditionally, the Lunar New Year is a week-long event that marks the end of winter and the beginning of the Lunar calendar. Celebrating the occasion represents the desire for a new life, so families get together to feast and honor their households.

Absurd as a unifying symbol it may be, but we could make the tikoy a good takeaway to achieve the decades-old dream of unity among us Filipinos.

Eating the delicacy may not necessarily grant us an instant meeting of minds, but it behooves all of us to achieve what many of our ancestors had only dreamed of.

We all know that from the time of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio and the other great heroes of our nation, the elusive unity we all want as a people remains just that, a dream.

We have not, as a nation, really come to terms with our shortcomings and worked for the best interest of the country, thus we have remained a laggard in the region.

The crab mentality that has brought us down remains a fixture of all our activities so much so that no one really gets ahead.

To each his own seems to be the battle cry of many, even on the road, resulting in traffic gridlock that is among the worst in the world.

Discipline, long the bane of government administrators, is only present when somebody in authority is watching.

Is there any other way? Yes, if we are to believe politicians making their usual speeches.

Sadly, however, as past election campaigns have shown, they have all been long on promises and short on implementation. Unity is still hard to come by. Just take a look at the last names of those now holding power in both Houses of Congress and you’ll know why.

The whole thing has remained a merry-go-round, the clan in power marginalizing those in the opposition and so on.

Poor Juan de la Cruz can only watch and suffer the consequences. He may have been king for a day, but sadly, poor choices during elections have done him in time and again.

No amount of tikoy can get him out of that predicament anytime soon.

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