By Jean Ortiz-Luis
LOS ANGELES, September 13, 2010 – Southern California members of the Filipino American community gathered at Point Fermin Park on September 11 and 12 in San Pedro to attend the Festival of Philippine Arts & Culture (FPAC). The annual festival featured local vendors and organizations and showcased Fil-Am talent in visual and performance artistry. As Southern California’s largest and longest running Filipino festival, FPAC is coordinated by nonprofit organization, FilAm ARTS-The Association for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts and Culture. The two-day festival was funded by government factions as well as Los Angeles area sponsors from businesses and Filipino-based organizations in an effort to continue the family event for all ages.
Two stages at the festival featured presentations to entertain all generations. FPAC’s traditional and modern acts such as Likas Pilipinas Folk Arts and San Diego-based pop singer Krystle Cruz displayed the festival’s ability to showcase a wide range of Filipino American talent. Cal State Long Beach won the 3rd Annual Tinikling Battle, which gave a modern twist to the Filipino tradition by having college-based groups compete against each other with their own rendition of the dance. Attendees also enjoyed comedy by Rex Navarette and a variety of exhibitions including live paintings, book readings, and art sales.
Along with nonstop entertainment, visitors enjoyed delicious food from local Filipino eateries including the increasingly popular food trucks, White Rabbit Truck, Tapa Boy and the Manila Machine. Dozens of booths held Filipino-owned businesses and retailers with merchandise depicting cultural images or phrases. San Diego-based merchant Pnoy Apparel saw heavy booth traffic not only for their special guest meet-and-greets, but also for their high quality clothing aimed at educating the youth on Philippine culture and history.
Despite being an event for all members of the family, several festival goers agreed that FPAC’s strongest impact could be made on the Filipino American youth. Rocky Rivera, a female hip hop artist from San Francisco, discussed the importance of continuing the event for younger generations to promote growth and unity within the community. “It really gives me a sense of pride. That’s really what I love about FPAC. Seeing everybody grow,” said Rivera. “We definitely need to keep things like this going so that my child and everybody’s children can experience what I experienced growing up.”
The festival was also seen as a means of bringing encouragement to Filipino Americans seeking careers in the arts. Olympic Bronze medalist JR Celski expressed his opinions on the current status of Filipinos in mainstream media. “I think Filipino people need to step up into the spotlight because I’ve noticed we’re in the background a lot,” said the short track speed skater. “People need to chase their dreams. I think it’s time we take a step further and really get in the front.” FPAC performers hope that the Filipino American youth will take inspiration from the sights at the festival to further advance the recognition of Fil-Ams. Rocky Rivera offered advice and motivation to young artists eager to reach success like other Filipino American talents. “There’s so few of us that we really need to band together. And just do it and not be afraid,” said Rivera. “People like the Native Guns, Blue Scholars, people like myself are really kicking in the door for a reason and that’s for more young people to believe that they can do what we are doing as well.”
About the Guest Writer: Jean Ortiz-Luis is currently working in marketing for a Los Angeles-based company. The Southern California native also does freelance writing and PR. Jean graduated from California State University, Long Beach in 2009 with a B.S. in Business Administration as a marketing major. On her free time, she enjoys movies, attending concerts, and delicious food with good company.