Spirit of the Philippines
Ghenesis Jhay Balaan | Maui High School
The annual Barrio Fiesta held at Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center celebrates the joyous culture of the Philippines.
Filipinos all over the County of Maui join together for two days to rejoice and celebrate the Filipino culture. From the food, cultural attires, folk dances, and Santa Cruzan, the Barrio Fiesta will guarantee an experience different for all attendees. This event gives Filipinos the chance to express their pride in being a Filipino and broaden their knowledge of their culture.
The spirit of the Philippines is alive in this two day event; the Barrio Fiesta embodies unity not just from the Filipinos but everyone in the whole community of Maui.
Celebrating Filipino heritage is vital in order to keep our various traditions and culture alive. The two days spent at this event will allow everyone young and old to immerse themselves to the heartwarming spirit of the Philippines.
Sheena Garo’s fondest memory of the Barrio Fiesta was back in 2015, when she started her reign as Miss Barrio Fiesta 2015. It was her very first time participating in pageantry. This experience allowed her to step out of her comfort zone and represent her friends and family well.
Heavy pouring of the rain welcomed the night of her reign. Sheena remembers watching everyone helping each other out and protecting each other from getting drenched. Sheena enjoyed witnessing the sense of community the Barrio Fiesta radiates. “I always look forward to performing with my fellow Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Filipino Folk Dance Troupe and eating delicious Filipino food from all the different organizations that come and gather at the Barrio Fiesta to share their specialty foods,” says Sheena Garo. She recommends everyone to try the balut, with a little salt and spicy vinegar. This will open a whole new dimension in your taste buds.
To Sheena, Barrio Fiesta isn’t Barrio Fiesta without our community. In this day and age, we are so caught up with the modern lifestyle of telecommunication that we sometimes don’t appreciate our roots and where we come from. Sheena says “Celebrating Filipino heritage and culture keeps that pure experience of spending time with loved ones and enjoying food that brings comfort to wherever we are.”
In Christine Alonzo’s eyes, Barrio Fiesta brings everyone together to celebrate Filipino culture. She values the importance of celebrating Filipino heritage and culture in order to keep the traditions alive. Even though we may not be in the Philippines, a piece of home and culture is still with us no matter where we are. The event brings out the best in everyone, we truly see a sense of togetherness and community.
She said, “Every year I look forward to the food that is sold at Barrio Fiesta. The food is just packed with flavor. I always gain a couple of pounds around Barrio Fiesta but it’s worth it.” Her fondest memory would have to be when she ran for Little Miss Barrio Fiesta. Christine enjoyed getting to know all of the other girls. They were all kind and funny.
Even though she didn’t win the title of Little Miss Barrio Fiesta, she won the title of Miss Congeniality and she felt so thankful for the other girls. Christine described the two day event to be a fun cultural celebration.
To Rose Ann Rafael, Barrio Fiesta is fun, memorable, and diverse.
She said “I think it’s very important to celebrate our culture because it will help the next generation and kids who are born on Maui to learn their culture. Moreover, it reminds us of our traditions, food, and dances for generations to follow.” To keep her culture alive in their home, Rose and her family love to cook specialty dishes like pinakbet, igado, and pancit whenever they have a special occasion like birthdays or holidays. She believes that Filipino food brings families together. Rose also looks forward to being part of the Santa Cruzan because she gets to wear fancy gowns for one night. “My fondest memory about Barrio Fiesta is when they announce the winner for a free ticket to the Philippines. It’s always nerve-racking for everyone since we are always anxious and would like to win someday,” says Rose.
Shandi Agpoon is the current president of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Youth Group and has been a member of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Filipino Folk Dance Troupe for ten years. Every year during the Barrio Fiesta, she looks forward the most to performing. “I have never been to the Philippines but my grandma immigrated here to Hawai‘i in the 60s,” says Shandi. “It gives me joy and comfort to be able to put a smile on my grandma’s face just by dancing dances native to her home.”
For Shandi, celebrating her heritage comes with performing with her fellow dancers. Throughout the year, they get to perform at many different events. Being able to show off the carefully handmade gowns and skills they wear with their banga or candles is overwhelming but the applause and feedback they get makes it all worth it.
The annual Barrio Fiesta allows Shandi to go around the venue and see different people, even those who are not Filipino, have fun, watch entertainment and eat the different kinds of food. Her whole experience makes her proud to be Filipino. “I think it is important to celebrate the Filipino heritage and culture because if we don’t, traditions will be lost as time goes on. In the future, if they were not passed on, no one will get to experience the real Filipino heritage and culture,” she says.
Filipinos all over the County of Maui join together to celebrate their culture for two days at the annual Barrio Fiesta held at Binhi at Ani. This two-day event will be filled with entertainment from cultural attire showcases, folk dance troupes, the Santa Cruzan and the different foods of the different regions of the Philippines.
The Barrio Fiesta aims to spread the spirit of the Philippines and keep its culture and traditions alive to all of the generations. All who attends will experience a piece of home away from home.
Google® Is Not Everything is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes that education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Ghenesis Jhay Balaan, a Junior at Maui High School attending its Culinary and Health CTE Pathway. He is a two-year member of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and served as its Council Treasurer in 2017–2018. Ghenesis hopes to become a respiratory therapist in the future. He is the eldest son of Benjamin V. Ballesteros Jr. and Jerameelyn B. Ballesteros.