Philippine Fest 2nd Annual Event is happening at Aberdeen Center in Richmond

By , on October 29, 2015


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Filipinos’ love for socializing, singing, dancing and dining is legendary, and at no time is it more evident than during festivals. Fiesta is also a special time to be with family and friends, a time for fellowship and an ideal showcase of Filipino hospitality.

This year, Aberdeen Centre and Symphony Hill recreates the Filipino fiesta spirit as it stages the 2nd Annual Philippine Fest in Richmond, B.C.  This year’s festival, to be held at the Centre from 1 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 7, presents a lavish exposition of Filipino culture through arts, music, dances, cuisine and fashion.

The centerpiece event of this year’s festivities is a fashion show entitled, “Fabric Philippines,” a tribute to renowned Filipino designer Jaki Penalosa and her unique creations. Jaki’s designs have already hit the runways of fashion capitals in Asia, United States and Europe, and showcasing them in Richmond brings pride and joy to Filipinos in this region.

As one of the founding members of the Designers Guild of Iloilo province in the Philippines, Jaki promotes the use of indigenous fabrics hablon, silk cocoon and pina. These local materials have found a niche in international catwalks. “I love the imperfections of hablon and pina. I simply am fascinated by and love looking at their patterns,” Jaki said.

Jaki, whose designs were worn by Miss World and Miss Earth contestants last year, has been invited to grace the London Fashion Week in February 2016.  This adds another feather to her cap, since the clothing trade show is one of the big four fashion events in the world, together with New York, Paris and Milan.

Also on Phil Fest day, Aberdeen Centre will be transformed into a bargain mecca of authentic Philippine cuisine, gifts, jewellery, handicrafts, garments, bags and Christmas décor.

People can feast their eyes on artworks done by Dimasalang artists, as they take their artworks outside of museums and galleries and bring them to the festival for everyone to enjoy.

Dimasalang is a group of artists co-founded by Sym Mendoza and the late artist-writer E. Aguilar (Abe) Cruz in Manila, Philippines in 1968. The Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, used “Dimasalang” as a pseudonym, and a street in Manila was named after this alias. Dimasalang Street was the home and workshop of Sym, together with an energetic group of emerging artisans. This is where the group originated.

Fashion designer Jaki Peñalosa with Sen. Grace Poe (Facebook)
Fashion designer Jaki Peñalosa with Sen. Grace Poe (Facebook)

The Dimasalang artists began as a very casual informal group of painters who congregated in scenic venues in Manila and its surrounding suburbia to paint on-the-spot. They captured the local landscapes on canvas — and, through the years, formed a solid bond.

The group promoted impressionism and figurative art in the Philippine art scene in the late 60s through to the 70s when modern art was at the height of its popularity. Sym’s influence led a ‘quiet revolt’ in the art movement challenging the predominance of modern art by re-introducing the beauty of traditional art. The Dimasalang artists bridged the gap between these two movements and “established its eminent niche in Philippine art”.

The original Dimasalang artists (Dimasalang I) included Emilio Aguilar (Abe) Cruz, Ibarra dela Rosa, Andy Cristobal Cruz, Romulo Galicano and SYM. As a natural-born teacher, SYM mentored many artists. He encouraged the formation of Dimasalang II which consisted primarily of his students in Manila, namely Nestor Villanueva, Carlos Cadid, Godofredo Mendoza and Vic Larosa.

Sym moved his family in 1981 to Vancouver, the Dimasalang website revealed. Here, he generously shared his vast knowledge, expertise, and philosophies relating to art. The first set of Canadian Dimasalang in the mid-80s included Edgardo Lantin, Rod Pedralba, Noel Trinidad, Simeon Dee, Maria Apelo Cruz and Jess Hipolito. That initial group has since expanded to Dimasalang III as they mentored more and more artists and help them raise awareness about their art.

Besides the artworks, local photographers will also display their lens art. A substantial body of photographs taking in urban life plus the beautiful landscapes in Vancouver and nearby environment will be shown to the public.
Participants can likewise learn the intricate art of making the traditional Christmas lantern or “parol”. Parol lanterns are a huge part of the Filipino Christmas. At the mall, one can learn how to make this Christmas symbol for your home or office, this holiday season.

Community advocate Demi Avendano holds this yearly parol-making workshop with free materials on hand. Winners of the Best Parol contest will be awarded prizes.

Meanwhile, featured on stage is a portion of the renowned Historama, a cultural show consisting of short plays, songs and dances that depict significant periods of Philippine history.

Historama is highly-praised for its contribution to the cultural awareness of the community. Co-written by historian Atty. Bernie Julve and community leader Carmelita Salonga Tapia, with input and advice from the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver, it was first presented to the public on June 9, 201,2 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver as part of a series of events commemorating the 114th anniversary of Philippine Independence from Spanish rule.

Models wearing Jaki Peñalosa's designs getting ready for their London fashion show (Facebook)
Models wearing Jaki Peñalosa’s designs getting ready for their London fashion show (Facebook)

The musical consists mostly of patriotic and revolutionary hymns evoking the Filipino people’s epic struggles against colonial misrule.

It is a unique presentation in that it is purely a community effort, and all the numbers were performed by local actors, dancers, singers and cultural performers and volunteers. Clifford Belgica and Lu Lauron joined hands in directing and choreographing the numbers, while volunteer performers made up the cast of characters.

Also featured is an array of local talents from the Even 8 Events Management Production headed by Socorro “Babes” Castro-Newland. Philippine songs and dances will be showcased by a powerhouse cast of entertainment artists.

Valuable prices such as a round-trip air ticket from Philippines Airlines; scholarship from Sprott Shaw College; diamond ring by Artic Diamonds; Sony smart phone by Pure Channel Communications; phone accessories; home phones; and many more are at stake for game show participants.

Philippine Fest is a welcome addition to Vancouver’s Pinoy festivals and promises to be a whole afternoon of fun and festivity.

All photos courtesy of Jaki Peñalosa’s Facebook account.