Filipino-Americans from across the country celebrated the 115th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence this week with a variety of festivals and parades that brought together community organizers, businesses, and local residents. At the Kalayaan Festival in Los Angeles, the Historic Filipinotown community enthusiastically welcomed the Dinagyang Street Dancers, a dance troupe hailing from the Philippines’ Iloilo City. The group of 23 dancers and drummers, all from the Tribu Pan-ay group at Iloilo City National High School, were sponsored by the Philippine Department of Tourism to show Americans why “it’s more fun in the Philippines!”
Tribu Pan-ay was named the champion in the street dance competition at this year’s Aliwan Fiesta in Metro Manila’s Pasay City, receiving one million pesos and continuing a winning streak that began in 2011. Since then, they have performed at several popular venues in the United States, such as New York’s Times Square, to increase interest in Philippine tourism. Their elaborate outfits and intricate dance moves proved popular with the Kalayaan crowd, leading them to provide an unscheduled, encore performance later in the day.
The Kalayaan Festival, brought to the community by the office of Philippine Consulate General Maria Hellen Barber De La Vega, was the first such event celebrating Philippine Independence Day organized by the Consulate General and had the support of many sponsors and community organizations. Emceed by Bernardo Bernardo and LA-18’s Janelle So, the festival also showcased the talent of several individual and group performers such as 10-year-old Sam Santiago, the Sampaguita Dance Troupe, and the young Flipnote Band.