Filipino communities all over British Columbia are bracing themselves for "Hataw Pinoy!" the inaugural Philippine Summer Festival. The first "mega-event" for the third largest ethnic community in the province, organizers are expecting over 15,000 attendees at the Richmond Olympic Oval on August 28th and 29th.
The Filipino Canadian Cultural Heritage (FCCH) of BC is organizing the event, which is the first of its kind in the province. Chairman Rey Fortaleza hopes the event sheds light on Filipino culture and identity: "We wanted to showcase our amazing talents and great culture as Filipinos, as well as create a distinctive festival worthy of recognition around the globe. This event will be our version of such big Filipino celebrations as the Toronto, New York, and London Festival."
The festival will include everything from Hataw Sayaw and Sing-galing stage performances to an array of Filipino talent; Entertainers Joey Albert, Fe Delos Reyes, Ray An Fuentes, and a host of others are all slated to perform in the two-day program. Organizers also promise fifty food concessions lining the Oval's backyard in order to feed the masses of people traveling from all over B.C. and Washington to partake in Hataw Pinoy!
For the Filipino community of B.C., this summer's event has been a long time coming. Canada has the second-largest Filipino diaspora in the world, behind only the United States. In the early 1960s, there were less than 800 Filipinos living in Canada, but in the past fifty years, the community has grown considerably: According to a 2008 Citizenship and Immigration Canada report (PDF), the Philippines are the third source of new permanent residents in Canada after China and India.
In Vancouver, with an estimated Filipino community of 94,000, it is not surprising that the summer festival represents more than just two days of food and fun. As the website explains, Hataw Pinoy! conveys "a message of strength, of togetherness, of sharing combined talents, exploring ties and connecting lives."
For many generations of Filipino Canadians, Hataw Pinoy! is also a catalyst for change and a show of fellowship among the West Coast communities. The festival may be in its infancy, but judging from the passionate voices behind the event, the Philippine Summer Festival could be a staple for many years to come.
The Philippine Summer Festival takes place at the Richmond Olympic Oval on August 28th and 29th. Admission is free. For more information, please visit philippinesummerfestival.com.
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