By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City — The long stretch of 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights became a spectacle of Bolivian art and culture to commemorate the Bolivia Festival today, October 18. Despite the unusually cold autumn Sunday, spectators stopped to enjoy the parade in honor of Bolivia’s national day. Now on its fourth year, the Bolivia fest is a testimony to New York’s being home to the largest multi-cultural parades in the world.
The contingents – mostly women, and several groups of young children, and men – danced in vibrant synchronicity all throughout the street and donned bright and intricate attires that reflected the colonial and indigenous traditions of Bolivia.
The 2011 community census of New York noted that there are only about 4, 400 Bolivians in the city, and 60 percent of such a small fraction live in Queens.
Bolivia is a land-locked country in the western-central region of South America. Before it became a colony of Spain, it was part of the Inca empire in southern Andes. This republic, populated by approximately 10 million, mostly mestizos and partly indigenous, declared independence from Spain in 1825.
The Pagasa Social Foundation recently featured a community musical theater titled “Sa Pagdating ng Krus at Espada” (The Coming of the Cross and the Sword) in commemoration of October as the Philippine Heritage Month in the US. The musical production was produced and directed by the Purple Pillars Production on October 2, 2015 at the Philippine Center in Manhattan. It centers on the story of the Visayan native Enrique, the first navigator of the world who acted as the interpreter for Ferdinand Magellan in his conquest in Leyte and Cebu.
The Pagdating ng Krus at Espada is adapted from Las Islas Filipinas Book 1 of Dr. Zal Velez. Among its featured artists were Broadway singer and director Miguel Braganza and classical singer Kay Habana.