350,000 people throng to Bathhurst and Wilson Sts. for The Taste of Manila annual festival.
Updated: February 1, 2020
Largest Filipino street festival outside the Philippines
Billed as the largest Filipino festival outside the Philippines, Taste of Manila is back with an opening yesterday, August 18 and 19. It is held in the Bathhurst and Wilson Avenue area.
The official announcement came a day after emergency talks with the mayor and city officials.
It was cancelled earlier this month over rising costs
Started in 2014, the festival grew from 75,000 people to 350,000 people in the last year.
Here is a report from the Toronto-based The Philippine Reporter.
By Irish Mae Silvestre
After last month’s surprise announcement that Taste of Manila was cancelled, organizers made yet another surprising announcement: the festival is, in fact, happening this month, with help from Toronto city officials.
Slated for its original dates (August 18 and 19), the festival will once again see parts of the Wilson Ave. and Bathurst St. area shut down to accommodate vendors and visitors.
“Maybe people were shocked when it was postponed,” said Rolly Mangante, Taste of Manila (ToM) founder. “Now that we’ve come back, we’re getting texts and messages.”
In an effort to save the festival, organizers met with city officials to discuss the cost of services.
Toronto Councillor James Pasternak of Ward 10-York said that he and the mayor met with the organizers and division heads responsible for the success and safety of the event. “We instructed them to go back and look at some of the fees they were charging and to really bring those down to make sure this festival could take place,” he said.
While it’s unclear whether the organizers have received funding from the Economic Development Department, Pasternak said that they “put pressure” on EMS, fire services, transportation, TTC and other divisions to “lower their fees.”
The organization, which had to refund vendors after announcing the event’s cancellation, is now working to bring in former vendors as well as new ones. “Some vendors who already hired workers before and then had to cancel are now contacting people to come again,” Mangante said.
Organizers had cited prohibitive costs of hosting the event as the main reason why the event was initially cancelled. In a previous interview with The Philippine Reporter, Mangante stated that the two-day event costs between $200,000 to $250,000 to run. Some of those costs include barricades, waste management, TTC, police services, EMS, portable washrooms, a stage, and event insurance to name a few. Revenue for the event is generated by rental fees from kiosks and corporate sponsors.
Looking ahead, Pasternak stated that it’s important for the festival to have a stable and secure funding strategy for the future. “It’s not healthy to go through this every year of on-again-off-again,” he said. “We have to give the festival stable annual funding to make sure it succeeds.”
Pasternak added that he’ll be attending the event just like he’s done each year. “I bring greetings, I speak and, if the Prime Minister or Premier comes to the festival, I’ll be there to greet them and to bring them onstage.
“I’m very proud to be the city councillor for this area because of the Filipino community.”
Meanwhile, with the festival just days away, Mangante said that it’s been very busy and that they’ve been working “24/7.” There have been meetings after meetings with suppliers for tables and chairs and stage rentals.
But it seems that the efforts to bring back the festival are worth it, according to Mangante. “People are very happy,” he said.