While the majority of party-goers were in St. Pete this weekend for the Grand Prix, I was stuck behind a booth at a lesser known festival for 11 hours… but I was never bored. Heck yea, of course I wanted to see a bunch of cars and hot racers speeding down the city, but PhilFest was a tradition– and I believe the same belief goes for most of the people who were there with me.
Tampa’s annual Philippine celebration– PhilFest– takes place at the Bayanihan Center (Long word? Google it up then!) where an often lonely clearing of trees the size of a football field is transformed for the weekend. More than a dozen vendors line the field and sell a collection of Philippine food– not a huge variety though. There’s lots of biters (copycats). Scattered througout are more vendors selling jewelry, the Philippine channel, clothes, etc. At the center are a vomit of chairs which face the direction of the stage– the heart beat of the festival.
Doesn’t sound like much? I stepped back and realized that when compared to carnival rides or drifting cars… it isn’t much. But like I said– it’s tradition and it feels like going home. If you’re plugged into Tampa’s Filipino community, you will definitely see people you know.
So besides eating and checking out booths that sell stuff you most likely won’t buy, it’s one big hangout. Okay– the stage always has someone performing on it, but honestly it’s difficult to follow. There’s plenty of singers because Filipinos really love to sing. There’s several cultural performances. There’s lots of “talent” that goes onto that stage that you just politely watch and bite your tongue.
Perhaps it’s because I’m not that old– I’m not!– but the Hip-Hop Revolutions segment of PhilFest is the main reason this fair still exists. It’s a talent show always on the Saturday night. Although it varies year to year, most of the show is hosted by college students and mostly revolves around the dance competition between the different Filipino groups at Florida universities. (USF’s team took 2nd this year) You’ll notice the crowds get packed and the dances are getting America’s Best Dance Crew worthy. For real, us Filipinos know how to hip-hop.
Click on my pictures to see my PhilFest time, but I warn you, most pics are smiling poses.