So how did the first Filipino festival I was involved in go? It went pretty great! There were no massive hiccups, and according to the organizers, it was the biggest one yet. To be honest, Kultura was nothing like I initially thought a festival of that kind would be. My sole experience with Filipino festivals had been the one time that I went to an ABS-CBN sponsored one with Paolo three years ago, and that wasn’t really much fun. For Kultura, however, it was overwhelmingly evident that every single thing that went into the festival was done with love. All the decisions were made with the intent of preserving Filipino culture, but doing so in such a way as to involve the youth. After all, it’s the youth who will keep the culture alive – without them, it dies. Shoutouts to CLUTCH and NAV, the Kapisanan’s arts immersion programs for Filipino youth ages 17-24. You all are a bunch of magnificent and talented artists.
The four-day festival was filled with traditional and modern variations on music and dance, different representations of Filipino regional street food that were nothing short of foodgasmic, contemporary twists on Filipino ternos and barongs, and an irreverently humorous presentation of Philippine history by the amazing Carlos Celdran! My bosses comped me a seat to If These Walls Could Talk, but sadly, I was kept busy with first and second cash count with the Special Events organizer as the performance was happening. I’m bummed about missing it, but the snippets that I did see were wonderfully informative.
I have to say, though, that while I did feel a little sad missing the performances in the festival, my experience has affirmed that I much prefer being backstage to being centre stage. All the whirl that goes on behind the scenes and prior to the event itself, like the social media blitzes, writing press releases, and interviewing and posting feature articles on the food vendors involved were what I enjoyed the most. I very much enjoyed helping put the event together, even if it was just in the little ways like organizing the volunteer lists and sending out email blasts, and even folding the flyers!
Someday I want to visit Kultura as a festival-goer, but I very much want to be involved as much as I can while I still can. I already finalized my schedule for the Kapisanan this fall semester, and I’m so excited to still be with this organization even after the summer festival. I’m glad they allowed me to stay. Cliche-ish as it may sound, I feel like I’ve found a place where I belonged in the Kapisanan. Next year, 2015, is going to be the 10th year of the Kultura Arts Festival, and it’s going to be big!
I’m also really glad that my friends and family made it out to the festival. I didn’t get to spend much time with them, but Mikaius told me that they very much enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. Chris made it out, as did my family, but I wasn’t able to take photographs with them because they came just as I was running around from vendor booths to the cashier tents. It was hectic, but in a fulfilling way.
To sum it all up, August 7-10 was one of the busiest weeks I’ve ever had in my life, as well as the most fulfilling. I’m glad that I was allowed the chance to work with the wonderful team at Kapisanan.
I think it’s fair to say that this summer has been the best I’ve had since I arrived in Canada.