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Barrio Fiesta keeps traditions of the Philippines alive on Maui

By Staff | May 27, 2010

KAHULUI — War Memorial Soccer Field will be the hub of human and community activity come May 28-30 as it hosts the 41st Barrio Fiesta.

Regarded as the longest-running Filipino festival in the United States, the Barrio Fiesta brings alive the various traditions, cultures, rites, rituals and languages of the people of the Philippines, who, in 1906 came to Hawaii to work in the plantations.

The Barrio Fiesta is regarded as a bridge to the Filipinos’ rich and complex heritage. Replete with the power of nostalgia, that summoning of the virtues of the past and the teaching capacity of recognized experience, the event serves as living museum of dynamic and living ideas of life and community.

Coordinated by Binhi at Ani, the festival celebrates the diversity of the people of the Philippines, as well as the need to remember the homeland and its promise.

“Apart from being a tradition, the Barrio Fiesta is a time for us to reconnect with our friends and enjoy each other’s company and to have fun through entertainment, games, programs and, of course, to have a taste of the different Filipino dishes prepared by each participating organization,” said Flor Garcia, co-chair for this year’s event.

In previous years, unit organizations built a “bahay kubo” — the traditional Filipino house — to simulate a typical barrio scene.   

This year, the organizers will showcase bahay-kubo look-alike booths. About 14 organizations signed up to participate in this three-day event.

According to Garcia, there will be baseball tournaments for the children and basketball tournament for youth.

On the first day, there will be the cutting of the ceremonial ribbon, judging of the booths, display and exhibition of arts and crafts, food concession booths, the Santacruzan, the Flores de Mayo procession and a performance of a high school band.

In the evening, there will be ethnic and cultural presentations that include “bukanegan,” folk dances, “daniw,” and a presentation of the Miss Barrio Fiesta contestants.

On the second day, food concessionaires will open their booths at 10 a.m. Also on the second day, there will be a “sungka” tournament with three divisions participating.

The “sungka” is an ancient traditional Filipino game played by two participants. The objective of the game is to amass stones or cowrie shells in the player’s home base (bahay) by continuously distributing the shells around smaller holes until the player runs out of shells to distribute. The person who collects the most shells in his or her bahay wins.

There will also be “pabitin” and other indigenous games that same day.

In the afternoon, the Barrio Fiesta wear contest will be held, as well as presentation of the 2010 Binhi at Ani scholarship awards. A major highlight in the evening is the coronation of the 2010 Miss Barrio Fiesta queen.

On the third day, Barrio Fiesta will conclude with appropriate ceremonies to honor Filipino veterans. The ceremonies, to be held in the morning, will include a memorial service.

A tinikling dance exhibition and the traditional grease pole contest will follow the ceremonies for the veterans.

Announcement of the winners for the various categories will culminate the festival. This will be held right after the potluck luncheon.

For information on the Barrio Fiesta, contact Co-chairs Flor Garcia (281-2304) and Ryan Sagayaga (250-2841).