May 9, 2011

IT'S BARRIO FIESTA TIME! Celebrating Our Cultural Traditions

Bahay Kubo at Kepaniwai Park. The "Bahay Kubo" also
known as "nipa" but is an indigenous shelter structure
that is a common sight in the rural areas of the Philippines.
It is constructed with bamboo materials tied together and
covered with a roof using "nipa" or "anahaw" leaves.
It embodies the Filipino value of "bayanihan" which re-
present oneness in achieving a common goal.

By: Fil-Am OBSERVER Staff

The 42nd Annual Barrio Fiesta and 2011 Miss Barrio Fiesta Coronation will come to life at the Maui  War Memorial Complex  in Kahului on May 27-29.

Known as the longest Filipino festival in the United States,  the Barrio Fiesta brings alive the various traditions, cultures, rites, rituals, and languages of the people of the Philippines, who, in 1906 came to Hawaii to work in the plantations.

The Barrio Fiesta is regarded as a bridge to the Filipinos’ rich and complex heritage. Replete with the power of nostalgia, that summoning of the virtues of the past and the teaching capacity of recognized experience, the event serves as living museum of dynamic and living ideas of life and community.

Coordinated and sponsored by Binhi at Ani and in cooperation with Maui County, the festival celebrates the diversity of the people of the Philippines and the same diversity that they have in the diaspora and yet mindful of the need to remember the homeland and its promise.

“The Barrio Fiesta is a time for us to reconnect with our friends and enjoy each other’s company and to have fun through entertainment, games, programs, and of course, to have a taste of the different Filipino dishes prepared by each participating organization,” said Florante  Garcia, general chairperson for this year’s event. “I’m inviting everybody to come and participate in the various activities planned for the event,” he added.

In a phone interview with Binhi at Ani president  Cecille Piros, she said, “For the first time in the history of the event, the Philippine Consulate  General in Honolulu will extend its consular outreach services to the residents of Maui county at the Barrio Fiesta grounds starting on Friday evening (May 27) and Saturday (May 28) from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. They will assist in the  renewal of Philippine passports, filing of dual citizenship, and other services. Official passport photos will also be taken on site.”

“With the help of all committee members, we hope to give the community another exciting and fun-filled barrio fiesta. Hopefully, we are going to incorporate the “bandaritas” or streamers that are a common sight to fiestas in the Philippines,” said Manny Baltazar, program coordinator.

Maui county and  state dignitaries, and Philippine Consulate in Honolulu were invited to grace the occasion.

During the previous years, unit organizations built a “bahay kubo”—the traditional Filipino house—to simulate a typical barrio scene.

For this year, however, the organizers will showcase  bahay-kubo-look-alike booths. As in the past, there will be a booth structure/arts and craft display contest. Participating organizations are encouraged to make the fa├žade of the booth to consist of bamboo materials while the arts and crafts display should create a certain mood and establish a particular theme related to the event.

As of press time, twelve  organizations signed up to participate in this three-day event. They are the following: Alcalanians, Christ the King Filipino Catholic Club Sr., Christ the King Youth Group,  First Assembly of God, Good Shepherd Church, Sr., Good Shepherd Church Youth, Ilocos Surian Association of Maui, Kabatak-Maui College, Lahaina Filipino Catholic Club, Maui High School ELL Club, St. Ann Church Youth Group, and Sinaitenians. Maui Waena and Binhi at Ani will be utilizing tent booths.

On the first day, there will be the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon, judging of the  booth structure/arts and craft display,  opening of food concession booths,   Santacruzan and   Flores de Mayo procession, and  the opening program.   In the evening, there will be ethnic and cultural performances   and a presentation of the 2011 Miss Barrio Fiesta contestants.

On the second day, food concessionaires will open their booths  in the morning.  On that day, there will be a “sungka” tournament. The “sungka” is an ancient traditional Filipino game played by two participants. The objective of the game is to amass stones or cowrie shells in the player’s home base or “balay”—by continuously distributing the shells around smaller holes until the player runs out of shells to distribute. The person who collects the most shells in his or her “balay” wins.  There will also be the playing of the “pabitin” and other indigenous games .In the afternoon,  will be the Barrio Fiesta wear contest, talent search contest.

A major highlight in the evening is the coronation of the 2011 Miss Barrio Fiesta queen. As of press time, Chelsea Guzman and Arvie Haduca will vie for the title. There will be a parade of former Miss Barrio Fiesta Queens (1970-2010).  Last year’s crown bearer Mary Grace Basig will deliver her traditional farewell message.  The recipients of the 2011 Binhi at Ani Scholarship awards will be presented followed by Filipino folk dances performed by Dance International Productions.

On the third day, Barrio Fiesta will wrap up the festival with the appropriate ceremonies that will honor the Filipino veterans. The ceremonies, to be held in the morning, will include a memorial service.
The traditional grease pole contest will follow the ceremonies for the veterans. The name of the game comes from a Spanish word “palo-sebo” which literally means greased pole. This game was brought by the Spaniards to the Philippines about 400 years ago when the Spaniards colonized the archipelago. The goal of the contestant is to climb up a bamboo pole which was previously greased and get the prize at its tip.

The announcement of the winners for the various categories will culminate the festival. This will be held right after the potluck luncheon.

For details on the Barrio Fiesta,  contact general chairperson  Florante Garcia at 281-2304 or over-all general chairperson Cecille Piros at 283-3739.

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