Hundreds of Angelenos gathered at the Silver Lake Medical Center grounds last weekend for a summer celebration of Historic Filipinotown.
Historic Filipinotown — colloquially known as HiFi — celebrated its 15th traditional fiesta on Saturday, August 5 where attendees enjoyed several activities throughout the day.
This fiesta’s theme was “A Taste of the Visayan Region” and it brought together a wide range of entertainment and food options. Various Filipino-American organizations and service groups held a parade that showed off Pinoy pride in its truest form.
The event was emceed by NBC4 meteorologist Shanna Mendiola and broadcast journalist Thelma Aranda-Sugay and featured a wide range of notable Fil-Ams including singers Jessica Reynoso, Tanya Varona and Ciamara Morales.
The annual festival showcased the rich cultural artistry of the community, including The Barkada Band, which comprises of students from Cal Poly Pomona’s Barkada Club.
The fantastic LA Eagle Rockers dance group also performed along with the Johannes dance troupe which performed traditional Filipino dances.
Variety entertainment group Cecile and Mighty Show also wowed attendees with a combination magic, acrobatic and song performance.
The event organizers also held a Bayanihan Award ceremony that featured notable Filipino-American professionals in the city, including Thelma Andrada-Sugay and makeup artist Mary Ann Muah.
Mariano Alvarez, counsel attorney for the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA), was awarded as the Outstanding Community Member by LA Councilmember of District 13 Mitch O’Farrell and County Supervisor Hilda Solis for his contributions to the community.
The Historic Filipinotown Festival was created for the community in 2002 by Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council President Cecilia Ramos and Vice President Leo Pandac. Ramos and Pandac wanted a way to commemorate the official designation of the neighborhood.
Then LA City Councilmember of the 13th District and now Mayor Eric Garcetti envisioned Historic Filipinotown as a neighborhood that celebrated the first Filipino migrants who resided in this area of District 13 in the early 1900s and who were major contributors to the state’s agricultural growth.
Since then, Historic Filipinotown has been a center for the Filipino-American community in LA, boasting some of the city’s finest Filipino cuisine establishments and numerous community resource centers, like the Pilipino Workers Center on Glendale Blvd.
Ensenio Garcia and Leonor Garcia have lived in Historic Filipinotown for 15 years after immigrating from Iloilo in 2002. They consider themselves “fully assimilated” in American culture, but were excited to learn that the theme of this year’s festival involved their home region.
“We’re having a lot of fun! It’s nice the city put this [event] for us,” Ensenio, 47, told the Asian Journal, his wife agreeing.
The Garcias spoke high praises of the Fil-An community in Los Angeles and are “forever thankful” to the organizations here that made them feel welcome.
“HiFi is our home and after so much fear leading up to our big move here, we were consoled by the community here and how welcomed we felt,” Leonor, a retired dental assistant, said with a big smile.
Trevor King and his Filipina mom, Anna Guira, moved to the city a couple years ago from Orange County and have declared Historic Filipinotown as one of their favorite areas in the city.
“We grew up in a majority-white neighborhood and I never really was exposed to Filipino culture,” King, a recent high school graduate, told the Asian Journal while munching on some lumpia. “LA, and especially Historic Filipinotown, really exposed me to the culture and it was the first time I saw this abundance of Filipinos, as well as so many other cultures. I always wanted to get in touch with my mom’s culture and I feel like I’m getting that experience.”
Guira, who moved to the U.S. in the 1980s from Tarlac, also expressed happiness for “finally” moving to a city with a high concentration of Filipinos.
“LA is known for diversity, and we’re so happy that we live so close to a place that does things like this festival that remind us to be proud of our culture. I’m happy my son gets to see that,” Guira said, beaming.