By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Sept. 29, 2014
LOS ANGELES – One of the biggest and most anticipated Filipino-American events of the year kicked off this weekend high above Los Angeles.
The Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture held it’s opening gala in the city hall’s tower. Los Angeles mayor Eric Farcetti’s Filipino staffers welcomed the community as leaders were honored.
“This is a very sentimental place for us because this is the place where mayor Bradley more than 20 years ago first launched the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture dito on the Bradley tower,” said FilAm Arts Executive Director Jilly Canizares
While the festival is one of the most joyful celebrations for Filipinos in Los Angeles, its roots actually stemmed from anger from realizing that Filipinos there had no voice.
Co-founder Norma Austin moved to Los Angeles in 1971 as Filipinos were being relocated throughout the city, fighting for their own civil rights.
“When I came, nothing was happening,” recalled Austin. “I said ‘what the hell, bakit ganito dito,’ and I worked for a Jewish organization. Hindi sila marunong mag ingles, yung filipino marunong mag ingles, kami tayo, yung sinusunog, we got to be better than that. Dapat makita tayo dapat marinig tayo. Yun na isip ko, how?
Since the festival was founded, it has continued to grow with many youth, future leaders, local officials, and artists participating in the two day event, all to empower the community.
“I’m always doing my festival because I need to plant. You’ve got to plant, you just don’t create and start it. You keep planting and take a look we were here years ago,” explained Austin.
This year Kapamilya stars Gab Valenciano and Geneva Cruz will join the free festival as it takes center stage this weekend in one of Downtown LA’s newest attraction: Grand Park.