Story and photos by Sue Berinato
RICHMOND, Va. The 12th Annual Filipino Festival rolled into town last August 11-12, at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in the near West End of Richmond. Taking full of advantage of good weather, the crowds dined on popular traditional cuisine like lumpia, pancit, empanadas, adobo, lechon, turon while enjoying a packed entertainment schedule.
This year’s theme was the Philippine Mardi Gras. Wearing colorful costumes and performing the Mardi Gras Dance Special were Sayaw! Diversity Group, the Richmond Pilipino Class, Visayan American Association of Central VA, and Himig Tribu.
Adding to the festivities were performances by contemporary dance groups and local artists that included Bonga Ka Dai, Latin Heat, and Pinay Zumba.
The live bands of No BS! Brass Band, Remnants Rock ‘n Soul, Cedar Creek, and Pinoy Republik rounded out the program. In between the band sets, the crowds participated in line dances that has become a trademark of the Festival.
Also at the event, the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) brought their entourage of dancers and singers from Washington D.C. Last year, MHC presented their Most Outstanding Migrant Award for Community Service and Promotion of Cultural Diversity to OLL’s Filipino Festival.
This year, Filipino Festival Chairwoman, Rosario Igharas, was recognized and received that same award for her individual work not only with the Filipino Festival but also with the Filipino Commission of the Diocese of Richmond and other organizations in Central Virginia.
The MHC announced that next year’s group recipient will be the Richmond Pilipino Class, and its director Maria Cielo Sinsioco, will receive the individual award the following year.
Festival charities for this year include the Richmond Chapters of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Alzheimer’s Association, Reach Out for Life Breast Cancer Screening, and OLL parish community ministries and school scholarships.
Also the Festival supports the Colorado Fund for Muscular Dystrophy which holds its annual 5K Race ‘N Roll on second day of the Festival. Named in memory of Aileen Colorado, this is her family’s 4th year to raise funds for special equipment and/or assistance with services for children with this disease.
Thanks to the support of the Filipino community, and the general, mainstream community of Richmond and surrounding areas, the growing attendance continues validate the success of the Filipino Festival. With inflatables, crafts and games in the children’s area, vendors, exhibits, popular bands, food and entertainment, organizers estimated upwards of 30,000 visited the Philippines at the 12th Annual Filipino.
The 13th Annual Festival will be held August 10-11, 2018. Salamat! For more information, go to filipinofestival.org.
Sue Berinato can be reached for comments, suggestions through firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 240-1832