Fiestas and Maui’s Barrio Fiesta

Fiesta! Just the thought of fiesta brings a smile to my face and a quickening in my heartbeat. Fiestas are a special time of festivities, a traditional event in villages, towns and barrios, sometimes to celebrate the birthday of a patron saint. For many it is the ideal time to get to know our neighbors better and to spend time with old friends and even to make some new friends.

Jia Garcia competes for the Little Miss Barrio Fiesta at the 46th Barrio Fiesta in 2015.
Photo: Lawrence Pascua

In the Philippines, the streets are festive, decorated with many colors in streamers, balloons, overhead lighting and flowers in season. There is a carnival atmosphere with games, rides, and my favorite, a Ferris wheel! We all look forward to the parade with floats, queens and princesses waving gracefully from slowly moving vehicles artistically decorated, sometimes in competitions with prizes. Everyone dresses in their best outfits and are there to be looked at and admired. It is important to be very careful not to smudge our fine clothes with the many kinds of delicious foods and drinks.

For those who enjoy drama and theater, the zarzuela performances in the Philippines are a big hit and some folks even watch the same show more than once, especially if one of your special friends is an actor on the stage or helping with staging or directing. Some amazing talent is discovered at this event. What a great opportunity to laugh with friends and maybe learn something new about a piece of history or share the solution of commonly shared problems in families and the bigger community.

Elizabeth Whitehead is shown here at the 46th Barrio Fiesta, selling her ready-to-eat puto.
Photo: Lawrence Pascua

The more sports-minded folks like to compete in the basketball tournament, where we can play or cheer for our friends on the team as they score, and block, and steal the ball from the opposing team. These games are a place for scouts to find new recruits for future stars but for most of us it was just to have fun with each other.

Wherever Filipinos live, these activities are replicated because they are a significant part of us and our cultural heritage. For the non-Filipino participants, it is a way to better appreciate Filipino culture, and in the end, perhaps make the bridges that encourage understanding and a deeper acceptance of the things that are different among people, that also add to living better in communities that commit to taking care of one another.

For many, Fiesta time is the ideal time to get to know our neighbors better and to spend time with old friends and even to make some new friends.
Photo courtesy

Maui will be hosting its 49th Annual Barrio Fiesta during the Memorial Day weekend, which is an awesome task. Think about it! The Barrio Fiesta has evolved over the years but still contains many of the components of our fiestas back in our mother country—food, entertainment, queens and pageantry including a Santa Cruzan procession, culture, contests for adults and kids, and yes, even a basketball tournament.

Santa Cruzan celebrated at Maui’s 46th Barrio Fiesta back in 2015.
Photo: Lawrence Pascua

This year’s Barrio Fiesta has some new components, including the Any Kine Sisig Challenge, which I am happy and proud to sponsor. And during the Barrio Fiesta, the Bahay Kubo Heritage Foundation and the Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center will unveil the Bahay Kubo painting by Philip Sabado, which will be housed at the Center, thanks to the many contributions from individuals and donors. Don’t forget to visit The Barrio Fiesta Experience with its cultural villages, including Pangasinan, sponsored by the Tante and Araceli Urban Foundation. My wife Telly is in charge along with Teresita Noble and others from Pangasinan.

Yes, fiesta time is a time for merriment, sharing our culture, and making new friends. Maui’s Barrio Fiesta—the longest running Filipino fiesta in the United States—is something we can all be proud of and The Fil-Am Voice encourages your support.

Three cheers to Barrio Fiesta!