Support Our Filipino Fiesta & Flores de Mayo, Attend the Event, May 6

Most things in life needs to be updated for fresh relevancy, even for events like the annual Filipino Fiesta & Flores de Mayo where celebrating cultural traditions by nature is aimed at preserving old, inherited customs. But promoting our ancestral culture doesn’t mean we need to approach this statically, in the same way repeatedly. We can achieve the same aim, and perhaps more effectively, by presenting new and contemporary events.

This is why excitement is swirling over this upcoming 2023 Filipino Fiesta & Flores de Mayo. Organizers have planned several new events and cultural exhibits. The entertainment format is also different with two stages and extended hours to accommodate more singers and cultural performers.

Another new event is the MaARTe Benefit Sale & Silent Auction that will feature Filipino artists’ and designers’ work. Filipiniana, barongs, Filipino-inspired paintings, sculptures and cultural artifacts will be on display and for sale. This new event promotes our culture by having Fiesta-goers view fine work and possibly bring home with them a Filipino-inspired artistic piece. It’s also an innovative fundraising event as proceeds from sales will go to the Filipino Community Center to support their cultural programs.

These and other changes bode well for expanding the Fiesta with new attendees and keeping the regular crowd stimulated and interested in returning.

With the Filipino Fiesta now having a new home in Waipahu at the FilCom Center (this is the second consecutive year for this venue), it makes sense for organizers to experiment and try new things.

Interestingly, like the changes we are seeing in business, government and other aspects in society with Gen X now having more control in running operations, it was bound to happen that special events like the Filipino Fiesta would reflect a Gen X spin.

A good number of those spearheading and coordinating today’s Filipino Fiesta are Gen X, people who were young adults and in their late teens when they first started to go to the Filipino Fiesta with their parents. It’s come full circle and this generation’s time to take over and promote the Filipino Fiesta that their parents started.

Active leaders who were instrumental in launching the first years of the Filipino Fiesta back then are pleased to see new leaders step up to continue this tradition. This handing over control is how a community grows and matures over many generations.

In a way, in this light, the success of the Filipino Fiesta is crucial for our community because the Fiesta’s growth should reflect the growth of our community.

And this generation cannot take it for granted and assume that this event will just continue because we’re now going into its 31st year.

We must change with the times and appeal to our new, younger generation. We must also do what our parents have done, take our children to the Filipino Fiesta and inculcate the importance of passing on our culture like we were taught as well as the value of having a strong community.

Growth of an ethnic community at times can have drawbacks like disinterest in ethnic ways and to be in favor of complete mainstreaming. Strength of ethnic communities often is powered by their immigrant population, which explains in part the Fiesta’s success.

Immigrants are drawn together because they’re still most comfortable with and psychologically and emotionally in need to be among other immigrants of their ancestral country. The founders and active supporters of the Filipino Fiesta decades ago were mostly immigrants from the Philippines.

The Fiesta provided a special kind of immigrant camaraderie like when locals from Hawaii now living on the mainland are drawn to other Hawaii locals.

At our Filipino Fiesta, immigrants hear their language, see people from their former cities and towns in the Philippines, enjoyed ethnic food like those served back home. The Fiesta is nostalgic and not just about “fun” but truly emotionally and psychologically “filling” a part of what they’ve lost through immigrating and assimilating. Now that’s a powerfully satisfying feeling.

In this regard the challenge for organizers of today’s modern Filipino Fiesta is actually a difficult one – how can they capture this fulfilling satisfaction that kept their immigrant parents regularly attending the event?

In our favor immigration from the Philippines to Hawaii is still relatively high.

The second challenge is to find ways to appeal to today’s non-immigrant Filipino population in Hawaii, which explains some of the added and new features this 2023 Filipino Fiesta.

Another incentive to attend the Fiesta in the early years was to raise funds for a community center we can call our own. Besides perpetuating our culture, the Fiesta originally was a fundraising event to help build the Filipino Community Center.

Like the sense of ethnic pride and joy brought on by the Filipino Fiesta, having a FilCom Center was the physical manifestation of that pride and joy. We were passionate back then to have a FilCom Center.

With the FilCom Center already having been built, the key for organizers is to maintain passion for keeping the Center financially robust. Like anything in life, sometimes we take for granted what we already have.

Our community must remember that the success of the Filipino Fiesta aids in helping the FilCom Center financially. The younger generation should be aware of this and understand the history behind the Fiesta. While the Fiesta is about fun and celebration, it was never just about that in the early years.

We thank the Filipino Community Center and the organizers of the Filipino Fiesta for presenting this annual event. Your hard work and commitment are not unrecognized.

To our Filipino community and Hawaii’s diverse multicultural community, we hope to see you at the Filipino Fiesta. The Hawaii Filipino Chronicle will have a booth there.

Mabuhay to the Filipino Fiesta. Mabuhay to the FilCom Center.

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