Take in the Filipino Fiesta parade tomorrow beginning at 9 a.m. at Magic Island and winding through Waikiki, ending at Kapiolani Park, site of the cultural village.

It’s Filipino
Fiesta time

'We are all Friends' is the theme for
this year's event at Kapiolani Park

As a country teeming with more than 7,000 islands, 16 regions consisting of 77 provinces and countless cities, towns and villages, the Philippines faces a unique dilemma with regard to its search for a common identity. With this in mind, organizers of the 11th Annual Western Union Filipino Fiesta and Parade have tabbed the phrase Kaibigan Tayo, or "We are all friends," as the theme for this year's event.

The 11th Annual Western Union Filipino Fiesta and Parade

Where: Kapiolani Park

When: 10 a.m. tomorrow (parade starts at 9 a.m. at Ala Moana Beach Park)

Admission: Free

Call: 680-0451

"The Filipino community is a little different than other communities in that most of the Filipinos in Hawaii are relatively recent (arrivals) when you compare them to other groups," reasons fiesta chairperson Bryan Andaya. "They have really close ties to the Phillipines, so we do bring over Filipino entertainment from there and feature local groups as well, who perform both traditional and contemporary music." The yearly gala begins at 9 a.m. tomorrow at Magic Island and Ala Moana Beach Park, with a procession that winds through Waikiki and ends at Kapiolani Park, where festivities take place.

The parade features 50 different entries, including marching bands, decorative floats and costumed marching units representing towns from across the Philippines. Among the fiesta's celebrated guests are 2000 Miss Hawaii and 2001 Miss America Angela Perez Baraquio and American Idol semifinalist Jordan Segundo, along with a variety of entertainers on the main stage. Also included are Filipino businesses looking to promote their products and services, non-profit organizations promoting awareness for their causes, handicraft booths for souvenir hunters and food booths featuring not only Filipino cuisine, but American food as well. "We're trying to have this event not only for the Filipino community, but for kamaainas as well as visitors staying in Waikiki," explains Andaya, who also expects politicians, sponsors and corporate groups to have a notable presence again this year. "It's a little mix and match of all those things," he says.

It's the Filipino Fiesta's cultural village, however, that's shaping up to be the festival's centerpiece. Unlike other Asian countries, notes Andaya, the Philippines' geography and differences in language and dialect makes it difficult for Filipinos to form a homogeneous identity. The exhibits found in the cultural village, it is hoped, will help foster an understanding between groups through the sharing of cultural traditions. "It features each of the regions of the Philippines, from the northern provinces to Manila and all the way down to the south to Mindanao. We'll have 10 different regions represented."

Take in the Filipino Fiesta parade tomorrow beginning at 9 a.m. at Magic Island and winding through Waikiki, ending at Kapiolani Park, site of the cultural village.

THIS DIVERSITY is also reflected in the food and dress of the many groups of Phillipines who have adapted to their native geography and formed their own unique culturalisms, according to the kinds of resources available to them.

"One thing about Filipinos is they sometimes identify more with their hometown or their home province as opposed to being just Filipino," he adds. "Even within Ilocos, where the majority of Filipinos in Hawaii come from, there are divisions there; you've got the northern part, the southern part and also various cities. Each major town there has an organization here (in Hawaii). If you understand that, it really explains a lot about the Filipino community in general."

While there are many Filipino festivals each year in Hawaii, the Filipino Fiesta and Parade has held firm its position as the largest and most inclusive Filipino celebration in the state, perhaps the country, notes Andaya. "It's becoming not only a statewide event, but almost a national event for the Filipino community." A good number of entertainers and Filipino businesses from California, he says, are flying in for the event, hoping to tap into Hawaii's large Filipino population. "The fact that there are so many Filipino festivals here is really a reflection of all the regionalisms of the Philippines. Each region will have their own festival, but this is perhaps the only Filipino event that tries to incorporate all the regions. If not for this event, I don't know that the regions would come together like they'll be coming together (tomorrow)."

Hence the theme, Kabigan Tayo, says Andaya. "We hope to be able to incorporate that theme every year in terms of bringing these different regions together."

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