Long-running Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture ends tenure at the South Bay with a flourish

FPAC22 Marks the End of an Era in Southern California

On a gorgeous fall weekend this past September 7th and 8th, the Association for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts and Culture (FilAm ARTS) presented the 22nd iteration of the annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) in Southern California. The theme for this year’s festival is “Pag-Ugnay, Paglago, at Pagbabago” (Interconnectedness, Prosperity, and Renewal).

According to filamarts.org, FPAC is a “series of multi-disciplinary arts events presenting over 500 artists to 25,000 attendees, engaging about 400 volunteers in collaboration with over 100 partner organizations,” but for all of the organizers, artists, performers, vendors, and attendees, it is much more than that. Coming a long way from its humble beginnings over two decades ago, SoCal’s largest and longest-running Filipino cultural celebration has truly become an institution in its own right. The bittersweet announcement that this will be the last year at the beautiful seaside Point Fermin Park in picturesque San Pedro, CA in order to be moved to a more centralized location in Downtown Los Angeles did little to dampen everyone’s mood. As a matter of fact, it made festival-goers that much more reflective of the many years that the charming coastal park had played host to this enduring festival, and appreciate the wonderful weather that was prevalent over the course of the weekend!

The two-day event featured the following perennial mainstays:
  • Filipino & Asian Cuisine (What self-respecting Filipino party is ever complete without food, right?)
  • Traditional Dance & Martial Arts performances/demonstrations
  • Live Entertainment on two stages; featuring Headlining acts such as Dakila, Bambu, Rex Navarrete, and Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) alongside a myriad rising and talented performers. The “Chairman” Mark Dacascos even got an opportunity to introduce his talented sister, Vanessa Dacascos, before she performed onstage!
  • Shopping from the countless participating vendors at the Marketplace by the Sea
  • and many, many, MORE!
Beyond the food, performers, and vendors at FPAC22, the festival also featured a number of different pavilions that the thousands of attendees were able to enjoy:

The Pilipino Artist Network (PAN) Pavilion
A program of FilAm ARTS, the Pilipino Artists Network (PAN) is a California-statewide, capacity-building program for established and emerging Filipino American artists in nine different disciplines: Traditional Folk Arts, Dance, Theatre, Music, Visual Arts, Media Arts, Literary Arts, Arts Education, and Presenters. It is designed to promote the growth of multiple disciplines by developing mutually supportive relationships that provide greater access to resources and markets not otherwise available through individual efforts.

The Babaylan Pavilion
At the Babaylan Pavilion, visitors had a chance to explore their ancestral links and find a sense of identification, belonging, and interconnections. The Babaylan Pavilion featured indigenous arts, practices, and beliefs as a way of fostering reconnection with one’s cultural roots. Healers of different indigenous traditions conducted educational and healing sessions for curious festival-goers, and cultural practitioners were available to address any inquiries.

Health and Wellness Pavilion
The Health and Wellness Pavilion is dedicated to providing a fun and interactive way to not only learn more, but also to help prevent health issues that affect Filipino communities. Through a number of different workshops (including ones on Hypertension, Obesity, Stress, and Diet and Nutrition),  the Health and Wellness Pavilion intended to promote awareness about such issues as stress management, smoking, sugar consumption, healthy eating, exercise, and hypertension.

Senior’s Village
The Senior’s Village was the perfect place for the seniors to relax at FPAC and enjoy the food and music at the festival. In addition to the Exhibits and the Vegetable Market, it also featured the 14th Annual Vegetable Growing Competition in addition to the featuring of Harana (serenade) and the singing of Kundiman (traditional Filipino love songs).

Eskuwela Kultura Youth Pavilion
The Youth Pavilion brought Filipino culture and fun to the young festival-goers! It hosted children’s dance workshops workshops (both traditional and modern, hip-hop styles), taught traditional Filipino games, as well as arts and crafts such as face painting and drawings.

Some of the more recent additions to the rich history of FPAC included the Tinikling Battle, which was guest-judged this year by none other than BakitWhy PR Director Kat Amidar. Amidst stiff competition and to the rousing cheering of the enthralled audience, the 6th annual battle was won by the team from Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) Barkada. Also, The Saysay Project, a new story-telling initiative from FilAm ARTS, was prominently featured at the all-new Saysay Pavilion. The Saysay Project aims to encourage the community to tell and to document their stories in order to highlight the contributions of Filipino Americans to U.S. life and culture. Barangay Los Angeles has also actively collaborated with FilAm Arts to bring a significant progressive LGBTQ visibility at this year’s FPAC, and presented  presents “TULAY: Connecting Families to the LGBTQ Community” which is designed to help bring together cultural awareness, family values, sexual preference, and gender identity. Furthermore, there was also a wealth of fun contests over the course of the weekend, including the Lumpia Wrapping Contest, the Balikbayan Box Packing Contest, the Balut Eating Contest, the Polvoron Whistling Contest, and the “Best Balisong (butterfly knife) in the West” Competition, to entertain every festival-goer!

True to FPAC’s mission to be representative of Philippine Arts, Philippine Expressions Bookshop also continued on with their tradition of rounding up renowned Filipino authors to sign their books at the festival. This year, the following authors were invited to be in attendance: Marvin Gapultos (The Adobo Road Cookbook: A Filipino Food Journey - from Food Blog to Food Truck, and Beyond), Leslie Ryan (I Am Flippish), Giovanni Ortega (Leaves from the Silverlake Barrio), Myrna de la Paz Mulhern (Abadeha: Philippine Cinderella), Jay Wertz (The Pacific: War Stories. WWll Firshand, Vol. l: Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal and The Pacific: War Stories. WWll Firsthand Vol. Two. The Solomons to Saipan), Albert J. Mortiz (Discover the Philippines Cookbook), Judy Patacsil (Filipinos in San Diego), Patricia Justiniani McReynolds (Almost Americans: A Quest for Dignity. An American Memoir), Sumi Sevilla Haru (Iron Lotus: Memoirs), Carina Forsythe (A Rose and a Butterfly: An Autobiography of an Immigrant's Daughter), Imelda Lorayna Fowler (Home and Back Again. Journey Through The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death), and Lorenzo Paran lll (Pinoy in America).

The 22th Annual FPAC was not just all fun and games, however, as the festival also conferred a number of well-deserved recognitions and awards to some key individuals; Ernesto Peña posthumously received the Community Service Awards, Judge Casimiro Tolentino received the Community Service Awards along with his wife, Jennifer Tolentino, and ConGen Maria Hellen Barber De La Vega, received the Public Service Award as the Consul General of the Philippine Consulate of Los Angeles. Also, California State Assemblymember Rob Bonta, attended to show his support and offer his story of being the first Filipino-American Assemblymember in California as an inspiration and a reminder of how far we have come – and of how far we have yet to go as a community.

As the festival wound down on Sunday afternoon and people were once again reminded that it was the last time FPAC would be held in San Pedro, the regular organizers/volunteers/vendors/attendees made every effort to savor the last few moments of the end of an era. Next year marks a new chapter in the evolution of this long-running Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture!

FPAC Day 1:

FPAC Day 2: