By all accounts, Metro Vancouver’s first Pinoy Festival was a roaring success. Approximately 10,000 people gathered and more than 50 community organizations participated. It took place in Civic Square in Metrotown on June 24 as part of Filipino Heritage Month.
Among the celebrants were federal, provincial, and municipal politicians. One of those elected officials, Premier David Eby, thrilled the crowd by joining in a traditional Igorot dance. He also reiterated his government’s support for a provincial Filipino Cultural Centre in Metro Vancouver.
“We’re really excited to have a cultural centre for the Filipino community,” Eby told ABS-CBN News in the video below. “It’s important for people to get together and celebrate—and I’m excited about that project.”
Moreover, Eby offered kind words for Mabuhay House Society, which is leading community consultations on the centre.
“We’re grateful to Premier Eby and his government for giving Mabuhay House the mandate to work on establishing a Filipino cultural centre in our community,” society chairperson Sammie Jo Rumbaua said. “It’s critical that we remain united in this work and that we learn from the past so that we can heal and build on it.”
Another politician, Burnaby mayor Mike Hurley, said that he hopes that Burnaby can host another Pinoy Festival next year. Meanwhile, there were three elected officials in attendance who trace their family heritage back to the Philippines: MLA Mable Elmore, Burnaby councillor Maita Santiago, and North Vancouver school trustee Lailani Tumaneng.
Also present were Burnaby councillors Pietro Calendino, Sav Dhaliwal, Daniel Tetrault, and Richard Lee, as well as Burnaby trustee Jen Mezel, MP Peter Julian, and Coquitlam mayor Richard Stewart.
Pinoy Festival began with a parade
The Burnaby Filipino Cultural Society, the Pinoy Festival Alliance, and the Mabuhay House Society organized the event. It included the Parada ng Bayan (community parade); participants included Filipino cyclists and 4×4 off-roaders.
“It was a multi-mode transportation parade that was lively, festive and absolutely amazing,” declared Pinoy Festival co-chair Iane Penala. “We had pedestrians, cyclists, and participants in their private cars along with festival goers lining the entirety of our parade route to watch, wave and capture the moment with their devices.”
On-site, there was no shortage of Filipino food and booths representing local Filipino businesses. In addition, the festival featured cultural performances representing regions from the northern Philippines all the way to the southern island of Mindanao.
The festival also showcased local bands playing OPM (Original Pilipino Music). The term OPM originally referred to pop music, including many ballads, that emerged in the 1970s.
“This was a meaningful and successful event on many levels,” Santiago, who’s also a Mabuhay House Society board member, said. “It was community-led and community-driven and it was organized by an all-volunteer team. Credit goes to all of the volunteers who put in the painstaking and hard work of community organizing and community building.”