Chicago’s Piyesta Pinoy a smash bash

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Chicago Vice Consul Roberto Bernardo (center) with organizer Ruben Salazar (right) and Enrick Baltazar, festival volunteer. PHOTO BY ELTON LUGAY

Chicago’s Navy Pier hosted the Philippines in its Neighborhoods of the World celebration – a “historic moment” for Filipinos in the Windy City.

“This is a historic moment for all Filipinos in Chicago,” Ruben Salazar, president of the Philippine American Cultural Foundation told The FilAm. “This is also the first time that we’ve gathered together
and celebrate a fiesta in springtime.”

Held in the spring, Neighborhoods celebrates the city’s ethnic diversity. It has previously hosted India, Greece, Lithuania, Mexico, Italy, Germany and some countries in Africa in this annual series.

The Philippine Consulate, with the help of PACF, put together a five-hour ‘Piyesta Pinoy’ on April 1 and gave the Crystal Gardens the feel of the tropics with towering palm trees and sand. It’s like being
in the Philippines but with a spectacular view of Lake Michigan.

“To be invited to showcase our arts and cultural heritage at this prestigious event is a big honor,” said Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim. “Through this event, we hope to be able to make our roots known to American-born Filipinos and other ethnic groups that may not be familiar with our heritage.”

The Pier became this one big ‘barrio fiesta’ where Filipinos in colorful native dresses danced to lively music and dishes like ‘lechon’ were served. GMA Pinoy TV talents JayR and Krista planed in from Tampa and headlined the program alongside local artists Hataw Pinoy, Angklung & Rondalla, Sulyap Pilipino Dance Co., St. Isidore Simbang Gabi Dance Crew, Sama Sama Project, Kaamulan Tribal Music, among many others.

American visitors delighted in the ‘tinikling’ folk dance and how the two pairs of feet kept beating the clapping bamboo poles.

“I am speechless,” said Dylan Rice, the Pier’s arts and culture programmer. He said he was “very pleased” with the turnout, and that Piyesta Pinoy is sure to have a repeat performance.

“We’re happy to be here,” Sunda Restaurant executive chef Jess de Guzman said. “We look forward to more of this type of events where we are given an exciting opportunity to feature our cuisine in such a
meaningful way.”

GMA East Coast representative Grace Hufano-Labaguis who escorted JayR and Krista from Tampa couldn’t be happier. “This spells success not only for the foundation and the consulate but for all Filipino
Chicagoans,” she said. “GMA is proud to associate in events like this that helps preserve our heritage for generations.”

Medical student Enrick Angelo Baltazar who attended the festival for the first time said, “I may be an American but I am Filipino first and I would like to experience what it is to be Filipino.”

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