By Marivir R. Montebon
Washington, DC — The streets of downtown Washington DC burst in colors and delectable scents with the parade and street fair of Fiesta Asia on May 18, 2013, celebrated in spring and now on its 8th year.
Community organizations showing off Mediterranean dances, Philippine tinikling dances, Martial arts, and yes, delectable unique cuisine filled the streets with fun and great spirits, despite the rain.
The Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), a not-for-profit organization providing comprehensive social and legal services to immigrants, was one of the most active contingents from the Philippines. Major attractions were the floral parade of the Little Mr. and Miss Migrant Heritage prince and princesses, teenage brain-and-beauty queens, the interactive Tinikling dance, delectable food, cooking demonstrations by a popular Mama Sita, an array of Filipino traditional fashion, as well as Atiatihan and Igorot tribal dances, and Fil-American talents in modern entertainment.
The stage on 6th Street featured Rising Young Stars Justin Fronda and Christian Leja. There was the martial arts Eskrima and Parol (lantern) making tents which provided spectators the awesome artistry of self-defense and home-made lanterns.
A tent for immigration consultations was up for the Legal Resources Program of the MHC, headed by lawyer Arnedo Valera, in order to provide quick information on the impending immigration bill being discussed right now in Congress.
The one day event was sponsored by the Asia Heritage Foundation and brought out the different Asian cultures and tradition in Spring, aimed to foster understanding and unity among diverse cultures that make up America.
Spearheading Fil-Am community participation was MHC co-executive director Grace Valera, also original co-Founder/Board Director of the Asia Heritage Foundation’s Fiesta Asia together with AHF’s Executive Director Wuiping Yap of Sutera Malaysia who first brought in the idea of putting up the festival 8 years ago. The two cultural advocates mobilized the Asian immigrant community and were later joined in by Asian- American volunteers who share a common passion for the performing arts and for propagating Asian cultures to the American mainstream and preserving Asian identity. Among them were (Chinese) Stella Choi and Mon Lau ; (Filipinos) Jesse Gatchalian, Antonio Calaro, Mike Favila, Arnedo Valera and Carl Abella; (Indian) Shruthi Mukund; (Afro-Asian-American) Sifu Rahim Muhammad; (Vietnamese) Tini Dihn; and (Korean) Christian Oh.
(Photo Credits: Elizabeth Babiera, Bel Francia, and Merlinda Weber)