Hundreds gathered on Saturday to celebrate the culture of one of Edmonton’s largest ethnic communities.
The Filipino Fiesta kicked off its third year with a parade as Filipino associations from throughout Alberta proudly marched around Borden Park. The two-day event celebrates Filipino culture with music, dance, martial arts and comic performances as well as food tents and other family activities.
This June marks the first Philippine Heritage Month, declared by both the province and city. There are approximately 165,000 Filipinos in Alberta, 4.3% of the population, and about 64,000 in Edmonton alone.
“It’s important we celebrate Filipino culture in Edmonton because Filipinos have been a part of Edmonton’s history … but just three years ago practically nobody knew that we existed,” said Tony Santiago, chair for the event’s organizing committee.
“Because since the ’60s we’ve only had one MLA,” said Santiago, referring to Carl Benito, who formerly served as a PC MLA for Mill Woods from 2008-2012. “It’s about time we tried to assert ourselves, tried to participate in the political process.”
Besides showcasing Filipino culture, the fiesta also offers local groups a chance to work together.
“This is a good venue to connect, network with people and show people what we can do for them and what we can do for each other,” said Jen Robosa, president of the University of Philippines Alumni Association Edmonton.
Promoting Filipino culture is part of the group’s mandate, said Robosa. It plans to soon launch a Philippines arts and culture orientation program for young kids.
“Having that sense of community and not forgetting where we came from, it helps us connect with our past and also with our future being here now in Edmonton,” she said.
The festival will continue Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This June 12th was also the 120th Philippine Independence Day, marking the end of Spain’s colonial rule over the island nation.