Smells of Filipino food wafted outside the Newhall Community Center as a welcome for attendees of the Fil-Am Association of Santa Clarita Valley, “Pistahan at Bayanihan” (Festivities and Community) Cultural Festival.
Inside the community center, more than 100 Filipino-American SCV residents sat with friends and families to listen to Fil-Am’s presentation on Filipino-American history — both national and local history.
“We have a long history of Filipinos and Americans working together — for better or for worse,” said Myra Miranda, president of Fil-Am of SCV. “This is a simple celebration, a reminder of that friendship.”
October is Filipino American History Month as the earliest Filipino recorded to arrive in North America in the 16th century at Morro Bay, according to Miranda. The festival is a way to honor Filipino culture, history and families’ legacies in how they contributed to the nation, she added.
“As you can see outside, there’s a lot of food, and that’s how we celebrate fiesta in the Philippines,” Miranda said. “Along with the food, you can see there’s always singing and dancing.”
Organizers hosted a fashion show with clothes from fashion designer Carl Andrada. There were also various music performances in the first half of the festival from Elisha Soronio and her brother Marco, Julia Camia, Kyle Dizon and Mnason Abrot.
The second half of the festival included a special dance presentation by Fil-Am Kids Dance Troupe and a Philippine cultural dance performance by Kayamanan ng Lahi.
Fil-Am invited various vendors and community leaders such as Claudia Acosta, president of Santa Clarita Sister Cities Program, Maynard Maleon of the Los Angeles Consul and Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda.
“You are a vibrant and dynamic part of our community,” Mayor Miranda said. “We embrace you, and we want to be able to include you all in everything our city does. We want you to have a seat at the table and have a say at the table.”
Consul General Edgar Badajos could not attend the festival but left remarks to be read for the community.
“I hope that you will remain committed to educating newer generations of Filipino-Americans about their cultural heritage, as well as the value of civic involvement,” Badajos wrote.
Miranda, the event organizer, said the biggest challenge for planning the event was the short turnaround for hosting the festival. She said they normally begin planning months in advance. They were not sure they were going to host this event this year because of COVID-19.
“We are so proud that Filipinos value that spirit of community,” she said. “For no matter what happens, we’re there to support each other. Gratitude is another word I can think of because you know some of these people are still not comfortable (being in large gatherings), but they came to support.”