Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pinoy Ako: Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture

When you are in a foreign country, you would realize how much you miss home. It would never sink in until you have left your roots and journey into another culture where everything is unfamiliar to you.

I made the transfer three years ago and it wasn't until that time that I came to appreciate Philippine arts and culture. I admit, I used to have colonial mentality and I believed that everything from America or Europe was better than what we have in the Philippines. Admittedly, I still love products from these continents but I have come to appreciate the beauty of my country - the Philippines.

Back home, a lot of people want to leave and find their future in elsewhere. In fact, people are leaving so fast that brain drain is rapidly becoming a reality. Now that I am here, I can't wait to come home. It was only when I spent a few months here where I hungered meeting other Pinoys, especially those from the Visayan region. It was during this time that I embraced local bands and surprisingly, enjoyed listening to them.

My mom told me a few weeks ago that the Filipinos are "taking over the world." I couldn't agree more. In fact, many Pinoys are already getting international acclaim everywhere in different aspects: sports, music, arts, fashion, and culinary. A few years ago, when my mom had her cholecystectomy, she was surrounded by Filipinos at the hospital.

Last Sunday, we had the opportunity to check out The 17th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) at Pt. Fermin Park, San Pedro California. It was a two day event celebrating everything Filipino and showcasing Philippine talents all over the area. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to come that Saturday because I had a class and missed some performances.

I was a bit disappointed when I arrived because, to tell you the truth, there wasn't much to see. Call it overrated but it was, really. There were tents set up around the place and two stages; the Main Stage and the Generations Stage. Filipino food was also served in one of the tents (not for free, mind you). We stayed for a few hours and watched the shows at the Main Stage.

The few acts that I saw inspired me a little. It was nice to see a lot of Filipino kids, most of them raised here in the US, catch a glimpse of our culture in a different setting. Because I grew up in the Philippines, I wasn't impressed and surprised with the Singkil performance. It was a typical performance that we did back when I was in Elementary school when we had our Academic Convocations.
I was blown away by a performance by three siblings Caite, Ciara and Daric Carajal who call themselves Those Kids. They sang three songs for us and I enjoyed their performance immensely. At 14, 12, and 8, they were amazing! I especially enjoyed the little one sing.

I wasn't able to see HappySlip's performance that Saturday, but Christine Gambito (HapppySlip) showed up and emceed for a few hours. We immediately grabbed the opportunity and snapped a few shots with her. She humored us and posed for her fans. For those of you who don't know her, Christine Gambito is the brainchild of HappySlip.com. Her videos on YouTube and on HappySlip.com have been viewed over 4 million times already. In fact, I am one of her fans and I enjoy how she impersonates members of her family and adds a Filipino flavor in all her videos. Recently, she was appointed as an honorary ambassador to Philippines tourism by the Department of Tourism. Her clip "Mixed Nuts" was nominated for a 2006 YouTube Video Awards for Best Comedy.

Another act I saw was a demonstration by the Kapisanang Mandirigma. Kapisanang Mandirigma is a federation of warriors from different disciplines of the Warrior Arts of the Philippines. I was familiar with Arnis, a fighting style using a stick. We had this back in High School and I learned a few styles under it. Other demonstrations were on Eskrima and Kali which were familiar to me but I just didn't have the opportunity to see before.