Tikoy Takes a New Shape in 2010

Chinese New Year is always celebrated by the Chinese on the 7th day of the 7th month according to the Lunar Calendar. This year, 2010, that day falls on still another big event – Valentine’s Day.

To celebrate the New Year, Chinese families usually buy glutinous rice cake (locally called tikoy) to give out to friends, family and colleagues.

Tikoy in the Philippines has truly evolved. When I was small, all we had was the usual white tikoy.

What used to be just plain white tikoy evolved into a brown version some years ago as more people preferred to eat brown sugar over white.

Then a few years ago, we began to see flavors that can only be found in the Philippines as these use locally found ingredients. Yup, you can’t find these in places like Hong Kong!



Ushering in the Year of the Ox at Home

Just a few pictures to show you the small decor at home to celebrate the Year of the Ox.


Our main door with the couplet on both sides to wish good luck for the people living inside

Our main door with the couplet on both sides to wish good luck, protection, peace and joy for its occupants

A fortune tree in the living room. Anything round is good for the New Year!

A fortune tree in the living room. Anything round is good for the New Year!

The year of the ox (wait, those are CARABAO!). Hahaha...

The year of the ox (wait, those are CARABAO!). Hahaha...

Our antique dragon lantern stand and a RED lantern always spruce up the living room

Our antique wooden dragon lantern stand and a RED lantern always spruce up the living room

Round fruits symbolize money

Round fruits symbolize money

It’s Tikoy Time — Kiong Hee Huat Chai!

January 26 ushers in the Chinese New Year — the year of the Earth Ox!

Here in the Philippines, we celebrate it just as, or more noisily, than the Western New Year. Binondo, most especially, will be the center of fireworks and firecrackers, lion dances, family dinners and the ever-present tikoy.

Tikoy is made of glutinous rice flour, wheat starch, water and sugar. The ones from China are traditionally made with white sugar but here in the Philippines, we have innovated and come up with the brown sugar, ube, buko pandan and even the red bean variety.

(clockwise) white sugar, brown sugar, buko pandan, ube tikoy

(clockwise) white sugar, brown sugar, buko pandan, ube tikoy

red bean tikoy

red bean tikoy

Tikoy is usually given because its stickiness represents the strong bond of friendship that the giver wishes to have with its recipient/s. Its round shape represents eternity, no end. Tikoy has evolved, however, with some of them already coming in the shape of carp. It can be eaten as is, steamed or fried. We normally fry tikoy. We put it in the ref overnight to harden the tikoy. Next day, we slice them thinly. Then we beat 1-2 eggs. Each tikoy is then rolled in egg before it is fried. Yummmmyyyy!

Today, I went to DEC (we call it Diao Eng Chay) along Wilson St., Greenhills. The owners of DEC were very gracious and accommodating and allowed me to take any pictures I wished inside. I also went to Little Store which was not too far from DEC and also took pictures there.


this pile of tikoy will be sold out most likely by New Year's Eve

this pile of tikoy will be sold out most likely by New Year's Eve

Here are some of the stuff people were buying earlier for the Chinese New Year of the Ox:

our Pinoy carabao (chocolates inside)

our Pinoy carabao (chocolates inside)

gold chocolate coins, the carabao, and other items (carp, pineapple, round objects)

gold chocolate coins, the carabao, and other items (golden carp, pineapple, round objects)

all kinds of round fruit

all kinds of round fruit



a blown-up representation of an old Chinese gold coin

a blown-up representation of an ancient Chinese gold coin

The main doors of Chinese homes would have what is called a couplet (paired set of Chinese characters wishing the family good luck for the year), something like the one below:


I printed this couplet out this evening on red board paper and hope the kids will help me add gold trimmings to it before I hang these up on the left and right sides of our main door.

Tomorrow, I will plan the menu for Sunday evening.

Wishing you all the best in the Year of the Ox!


The Makings of a Chinese Lantern

Ever since my boys were young, this mother had to be “tortured” annually whenever Chinese New Year came around because I had to help all of them make one Chinese lantern each. Their school, being Chinese-Filipino, used the lanterns made by the students to line the hallways.

So, it came as a great relief to me that my two high school boys decided this year to do the lanterns on their own. (Woohoo!!!!)

Actually, they did so with grunts and rants (and I was just waiting for them to give up and ask me to jump in to help). But, to their credit, they hurdled the test which I call the Test of Extreme Patience, and worked on their lanterns (with a little help from big sis and yaya). As of this posting, M1 had already finished his and M2 is almost there.

Just to give you an idea of what this mother had to go through year after year, let me give you a synopsis:

Materials You Would Need

1. Lots of RED Japanese paper and cartolina (be sure to beat the rest of your school mates to it at National Bookstore or suffer from lack of supply)

2. Glue (Elmer’s Liquid Glue is too wet; Elmer’s Glue Stick is too dry. Heck, I don’t know what kind of glue is best!!!)

3. A pair of scissors, paper cutter and cutting mat (the mat will spare your floor from potential disaster like permanent deep cuts here and there)

4. Ruler (to ensure the distance of the pattern lines from each other are exactly the same)

5. Scotch tape (to hold together the parts that accidentally rip if your luck runs out as you are halfway through the pattern)

6. The pattern for making a red lantern as shown below (Note to parents: Be sure you have good co-parents willing to share this with you AND keep this pattern in your home vault as you will surely use this until your kid graduates from high school!)

7. Yarn

8. Last and surely not the least — a willing victim or two (I mean, helper/s — which was moi in past years)



1. Cut 80 pieces of the lantern pattern using Japanese paper and 2 pieces using cartolina.


2. Draw lines down each piece of paper following the pattern’s lines.

3. Get one paper and glue down alternate lines (I refer to them as lines 1,3,5,7 and so on). Lay this paper down flat on the floor (the side with glue facing UP).


4. Get a second paper. This time, glue down lines 2,4,6,8 and so on. Lay the paper’s side without glue EXACTLY on top of the first paper with the glue.


5. Get a third paper. Glue down lines 1,3,5,7 and so on. Lay this paper EXACTLY on top of the second paper.

6. Keep going till paper #80. Don’t forget that the papers have to be glued on alternating lines (following the odd-even pattern in instructions #3 & 4 above).

Now you know why I call it the Test of Extreme Patience?

7. Once all 80 papers are glued together, the cartolina pieces are glued to the front and back as the opposite ends.

8. Punch holes through the entire stack of papers following the hole locations in the pattern.

9. String short yarn through these holes and knot them.

10. Hold both ends of the lantern and slowly open it up like an accordion.