Celebrate Filipino-American History Month!

Celebrate Filipino-American History Month!

On October 1, at 10:00 a.m., the celebration of Filipino-American History Month will officially kick off with the Annual Philippine Flag Raising Ceremony at the County of Maui. The Philippine Flag will be flown at the County Building for the whole month of October. This tradition was started by former Mayor Charmaine Tavares, continued by former Mayor Alan Arakawa, and earlier this year, Mayor Michael Victorino promised to continue this tradition.

“I plan to support [the various Filipino events] in every way possible,” said Victorino when interviewed in January. “I think the Filipino culture like many of our other cultures have made a great impact on my life. But the Filipino community—being the largest at 27-percent of ethnic Filipino ancestry. But more importantly, they’ve been an important part of our history in all aspects through the labor movement now into modernization; they’ve been in management; they’ve been in government. I respect the Filipino culture and Filipino community. I always enjoy working for them and working with them.”

A little bit of history

In case you’ve forgotten, in 2008, then Governor Linda Lingle signed House Bill No. 3343 (State Representative Joey Manahan was the principal author) into law as Act 15, which designated October as Filipino American History month in the State of Hawai‘i “to commemorate the contributions of Filipino Americans to the history and heritage of Hawai‘i and the United States.” Act 15 (2008) is codified at Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Section 8–18.

The month of October was selected because the earliest documented presence of Filipinos in America was in October 1587 in California. According to the 2010 census, there are now 342,095 Filipinos and part Filipinos in the State of Hawai‘i, making Filipinos the second largest ethnic group in Hawai‘i.

Since 2011, the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce Foundation has celebrated Filipino-American History Month with the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® showcasing Filipino food, business, culture, and entertainment. “The Festival helps us to stay connected with our Filipino-American history and heritage through the generations,” explained Elizabeth Ayson who was the president of the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce Foundation in 2011 when the Festival was started.

Master P-Noy Chef Cook Off® sponsored by Mama Sita’s

A fan favorite has been the Master P-Noy Chef Cook Off® which features Maui’s chefs of Filipino ancestry. Over the years, there have been five declared as the Master P-Noy Chef: Sheldon Simeon (2011), Joey Macadangdang (2012, 2013, 2014), Ritchard Cariaga (2015), Gemsley Balagso (2016), and Jonathan Pasion (2017, 2018).

With defending champ Pasion off to New Zealand to open a new Hyatt facility, Simeon, Macadangdang and Balagso were invited to compete (Cariaga is in Arizona) and the three readily accepted the challenge. “Bring it on,” joked Macadangdang when the three were approached at Binhi’s Three Chefs and a Grammy fund raiser to consider coming back to compete in the friendly challenge. Interestingly, each Chef has moved on from the restaurant they were at when they won the competition. Simeon left Star Noodle and now owns two restaurants: Lineage and Tin Roof. Macadangdang left Roy’s Kitchen and now owns Joey’s Kitchen, with locations in Ka’anapali and Napili. Balagso left Plantation House Restaurant to join Westin Nanea.

Unfortunately, Simeon is unable to juggle his busy schedule but the cookoff will have its first woman chef—Abby Ferrer of Star Noodle.

With Mama Sita’s as this year’s sponsor and its CEO Clara Lapus leading the panel of judges, the Chefs will not only be required to use one or two proteins (that will not be disclosed until competition begins) but also one of three Mama Sita’s famous sauces: barbecue, caldereta, and tamarind.

“We’re very pleased to have Mama Sita’s as this year’s sponsor of the Master P-Noy Chef Cook Off,” said Jorge Tirona, president of the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “It will be exciting to see how each Chef will not only use the surprise protein and the traditional Filipino vegetables but also the different Mama Sita’s sauces and products in their creations.”

“Each Chef will be judged on execution of the final product, taste and most unique interpretation of the Filipino culinary heritage,” said Gilbert Keith-Agaran who is coordinating the Cook Off. The Chefs will be graded as follows: Serving Methods and Presentation (10 points); Portion Size (10 points); Creativity and Practicality (10 points); Menu and Ingredient Compatibility (20 points); and Flavor, Taste, Texture and Doneness (50 points). “Of course, as in any culinary competition, how ono the final product is will be at the heart of the Cook Off,” said Keith-Agaran.

Food and More Food

For the Chef wannabee, there’s the Any Kine Adobo Contest® sponsored by Tante’s Island Cuisine. What is adobo anyway? It’s the sauce … usually consisting of a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce and depending on the region and cook … more stuff. “Adobo is one of our traditional dishes,” explained Tante Urban. “And the idea of the contest is you can adobo anything … because it’s all in the sauce. Tante’s Island Cuisine is happy to continue our sponsorship.”

Master adobo eater Dominic Suguitan, who is coordinating the contest, says if you can answer the question, Got Adobo?, you should enter the Contest. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize. Restricted to the first five participants only and the participant must be at the Festival by 9:30 a.m. with their entry, which must be enough to fill thirty-five (35) portions (2 ounce containers).

If you can’t cook and you want to participate in the contest, sign up to be one of the thirty Guest Judges. See Guest Judge Coordinator Jeanice “Jan” Paa on the morning of the Festival.

And if you just want to eat Filipino food–all sorts–then you’re in luck. This year, five food vendors will be on hand: Tante’s Fishmarket Restaurant & Bar, CAA Marketplace, Wailuku Seafood Center, Originz, and Pinoy Mini Mart. In addition to adobo, you will find your favorite pansit, chicharron, lumpia, longanisa, pinakbet, calderata, pork and peas, and yes, desserts like halo halo, ube ice cream, ube pancakes, and lady fingers. Oh yeah, that’s just a sampling so you will have to be there to find out what’s available.

And if you want some ice candy (avocado and coconut flavors), you won’t want to miss M’g Pedring’s Cart. Just listen for the bell. Ring! Ring!

Back to back entertainment

Hold on to your seats! You will be in for back to back entertainment from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The opening act will include an escrima demonstration by Dance International Production, a trio of talented singers Angelina Abapo, Sharon Zalsos Banaag, and Missy Aguilar, to be followed by an exciting rendition of Bayan Ko!

Other performers include Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Filipino Folk Dance Troupe, Anastacha Aco, La Galería: Compañía Baile Filipino, and Santo Niño Club of Maui.

Banaag, also known as Maui’s Miss Saigon, is excited to host this year’s Festival. “Together with the back to back entertainment, our Festival is filled with something for everyone,” said Banaag. “We will have fun contests and kiddie activities as well. It’s a real family event that brings all of Maui together to celebrate Filipino-American History Month.”

Contests Galore!

The wildest, craziest and most fun contest has to be the …

Speedy Balut Eating Contest® sponsored by Esteban Construction, LLC

The late Anthony Bourdain described balut as “crunchy, delicious” food but we all know balut is supposed to be a natural aphrodisiac! Yeah, right. Entrants must be experienced balut eaters. The first four to complete eating one balut will proceed to the final round, where they will be required to eat two baluts. The speedy one wins a $500 cash prize!

The Polvoron Challenge: Eat&Tweet® sponsored by Friends of Yuki Lei Sugimura

Polvoron originated from Spain and is similar to a crumbly shortbread made of powdered milk, toasted flour, and butter. And it is masarap! (If you don’t know what masarap means, hmmm, you haven’t been reading Dulce Karen Butay’s Let’s Talk Pinoy! column.) The contest combines one’s ability to eat polvoron and tweet (not electronically, of course, but a whistle—sort of the Filipino version of eating saltine crackers and saying “Polly wants a cracker!”) The first four to complete eating one polvoron and tweeting will proceed to the final round, where they will be required to eat two polvoron and tweet. First one to Eat&Tweet wins a $500 cash prize!

Kiddie Events

Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Uncles and Aunties, you can bring the young ones because there’s stuff for them to do while you stuff your face with food!

Pabitin at the Fest! sponsored by Friends of Justin Woodson

… is one of the children’s activities. Pabitin, which originated from Spain, is a popular game at fiestas and birthday parties. A lattice of bamboo sticks, called a balag, is suspended and lowered and raised quickly. The balag contains bags filled with toys, snacks, coins, and other items. Pabitin will be held at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m.. So kids, practice your jumping skills!

The Pinoy Artist Contest sponsored by Enterprises International

… will be coordinated by rising young artist Matthew Agcolicol. This year’s theme is Bayanihan or working together. Restricted to two-dimensional art (drawing, watercolor, painting, mixed-media, photograph, and digital art no larger than 18″x24″, matting excluded.) The age categories are: Grades K–5; Grades 6–8; Grades 9–12; and adult. All artwork must be submitted to Copy Services at 1975 Vineyard Street, Suite 101 in Wailuku, by Wednesday, October 9. Please contact Agcolicol at (808) 205-7655 or matthewagcolicol@rocketmail.com. The first place in theme will be awarded $250 in cash while second place in theme will be awarded $150 in cash and third place in theme will be awarded $75 in cash. Other prizes will also be awarded. Art submitted for the Maui Fair will be accepted. And yes, because the Contest brings together art work from Maui’s artists of all ages and of all ethnicities, you don’t have to be Pinoy to join the contest!

Oh Wow! Parol Making Contest® sponsored by Originz

If you don’t think you’re artistic enough to enter the Pinoy Artist Contest®, how about trying to create a Christmas parol on-site? Sorry but you can’t bring it home to finish. The first fifty youth will be provided a FREE parol making kit. Basic materials of glue, crepe paper, and cellophane will also be provided and you may bring your own special materials. The criteria for judging is originality, workmanship, creativity, and “The Oh Wow!” factor. All parols will be displayed through December at Originz. The first place winner will receive $300 in cash while second place will receive $200 in cash and third place will receive $100 in cash. Remember, the parol must be completed on site.

Your Name in Baybayin® sponsored by Friends of Gil Keith-Agaran

Even before the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, Filipinos were literate and had their own script/alphabet—Baybayin. At the Festival, the University of Hawai‘i Maui College Kabatak Club and alumni will assist you in writing your name in Baybayin.

Other Features

But wait, there’s more, including a new feature this year.

We Got History Exhibit® sponsored by Bayer

Every year the Festival provides a historical context of Maui’s Filipino community. In recent years, the historical sketch has been through individuals who have succeeded in their professions. The historical sketch is important to inspire our youth and to dream big. After the Festival, the information will be posted on Facebook. This year, the Exhibit will feature doctors, dentists and pharmacists of Filipino ancestry who are currently practicing on Maui.

A Health Fair For All sponsored by Maui Health System

This year’s new event at the Festival is a Health Fair where you can get testing for your blood pressure, blood sugar, and receive educational information. The Health Fair will be coordinated by the newly formed Philippine Nurses Association Maui, Hawai‘i (PNAMHi).

Leaving on a Jet Plane …

Yes, if you’re lucky, you could be leaving on a jet plane. If you come early and stay the whole day, don’t forget to register to win airfare (round trip from Honolulu to Manila, economy class) to the Philippines on Philippine Airlines through the courtesy of Sol Solleza. And guess what? Philippine Airlines is donating two trips! Certain restrictions apply including but not limited to: one entry per person, must be at least eighteen years of age, and must be present, with proper identification, to win. The entry form must match the identification. No purchase necessary.

Corporate and Community Support

The Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® is supported by a number of companies and community groups who believe in its importance and significance. “Local sponsor support is so vital to the Festival’s success,” said Melen Agcolicol, Event Chairperson. “Without our sponsors, the Maui Filipino Chamber Foundation would not be able to showcase our culture, heritage, history and growing number of Filipino businesses on Maui. So we are extremely grateful for our sponsors.”

Major Sponsors include the County of Maui, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Bayer, Maui Health System, Alexander & Baldwin, Philippine Airlines, HMSA, Western Union, Mama Sita’s, Tante’s Island Cuisine, Enterprises International, Friends of Justin Woodson, Friends of Yuki Lei Sugimura, Friends of Gil Keith-Agaran, Esteban Construction, LLC, Originz, Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, Benjamin Acob, Attorney at Law, Fil-Am Voice, Pacific Media Group, Lizada Photography, and Mix 105.5.

Yes, this Festival has something for everyone—delicious Filipino food to eat and take home, challenging contests with prizes, interesting displays, continuous and multi-talented Filipino entertainment—a terrific way to celebrate Filipino-American History Month and to support Filipino businesses.

Nowhere else in the State of Hawai‘i can you find such a unique and diverse celebration and hands down, the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® is the premier event in Hawai‘i that celebrates Filipino-American History Month.

So, come and enjoy the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® on Saturday, October 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center.

To keep up-to-date, visit the Chamber’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MauiFilipinoChamber. Pre-registration for the various contests may be made by email to foundation@mauifilipinochamber.com or via fax to (888) 411-0834. Telephone inquiries to (808) 242-8100.

Alfredo G. Evangelista created the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® in 2011 with the approval and support of the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce Foundation. He is a graduate of Maui High School (1976), the University of Southern California (1980), and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law (1983). He is a sole practitioner at Law Offices of Alfredo Evangelista, A Limited Liability Law Company, concentrating in estate planning, business start-up and consultation, nonprofit corporations, and litigation. He has been practicing law for 35 years (since 1983) and returned home in 2010 to be with his family and to marry his high school sweetheart, the former Basilia Tumacder Idica.