The Pistahan Parade and Festival is San Francisco’s biggest annual celebration of Filipino culture and heritage — through food, arts, and entertainment every second weekend of August.
The man leading the team behind Pistahan is Filipino American Arts and Exposition (FAAE) president, Al Perez.
For the past 16 years, Perez has been making sure Filipinos are represented in one of the most diverse cities in the country.
“I was really raised to assimilate to American culture; to lose my accent, to speak English, and to be American as possible because of all the discrimination my parents went through. So because of that I was losing my ability to speak Tagalog. I didn’t have a lot of Filipino friends. And I really felt out of touch with my culture so I was looking for something to reconnect, and relearn, and rediscover my Filipino history, roots, and my background.”
FAAE also works with professional teams like baseball’s San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics, hockey’s San Jose Sharks, football’s Oakland Raiders, and basketball’s Golden State Warriors, to host their own Filipino heritage night celebrations.
But for Perez, mounting Pistahan year after year will always be his biggest job.
“I think that’s what’s great about Pistahan. It allows us that visibility. And the City which is all about celebration and diversity and respecting immigrant communities through that interaction they are more familiar with our community what are needs our what are priorities are our challenges and also a lot of our triumphs.”
West Bay Pilipino Multicenter — a non-profit organization that serves low-income immigrant families in the South of Market neighborhood, or SoMA — is one of the many groups FAAE assists.
Whether it be tickets to sports games, or participation in Pistahan, FAAE makes sure West Bay is included.
“I just want to send my gratitude to FAAE for always including West Bay and the SOMA community into Pistahan,” said Charles Fermin.
And after all these years of community work, Perez said he does not see himself slowing down.
“None of us get paid to do this. We’re all just very passionate about preserving our culture and celebrating our community.”
Perez and other inspiring Filipinos will be honored at the Global Pinoy Idol show, set to take place at the International Theater in the Westgate Las Vegas resort and casino on November 23rd.
Kapamilya stars Randy Santiago, Jaya, and Inigo Pascual will be performing — while Gel Santos Relos and Ahwel Paz will be hosting.
For more tickets and information: MYTFC.COM/GPI.