FPAC: The Single Most Significant Fil-Am Festival in Southern California
As our Filipino-American community in Southern California grows by leaps and bounds, there have been more and more events popping up to service its needs- usually to provide entertainment, diversion, education, and preservation of heritage and cultural identity. Most events start out with good intentions on the part of the organizers, with the gallant aim of serving the community. At times however, some of these events are initiated by persons of dubious motivation and character, who, while exploiting the gullibility and naïveté of our fellow kababayans, give awards of questionable worth, and in the process, demean and cheapen the experience. Some events capitalize on the objectification of women, while others border on the frivolous and the ridiculous. These types of events not only wastes your time, but also empties your wallet, and in actuality are for no one’s benefit, but solely for the monetary gain of the organizers, usually in the pretext of “giving to charity.”
There are of course those events that are most worthy our attendance. This writer can name a handful; but after years of attending events all across SoCal, hands-down the event that I consider to be the most significant for our Fil-Am community is the annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture, or “FPAC.” Not only is it the largest, with 20,000+ attendees over the 2-day festival, it is also the longest-running annual Fil-Am outdoor festival inSouthern California. And most importantly, it is produced with much love, passion and dedication by the folks at the non-profit Association for the Advancement of Philippine Arts and Culture, or “FilamARTS.” I have been fortunate enough to have served the organization as a member of the Board of Directors for the past 2 years, but have been involved as an Emcee, volunteer photographer, and “FPAC Dad” for much more than a decade.
FPAC has become an admired, well-known post-Labor Day weekend tradition, a unique event where Fil-Ams of all ages convene in a 2-day “Pinoy Pridefest.” World-class talents like Lea Salonga and Joe Bataan have graced its stages. This year, FPAC21 presents a powerhouse list of performers, headlined by apl.de.ap of the multi-platinum awarded Black Eyed Peas, Filipino-American Funnyman Rex Navarrete, R&B singing sensation Legaci, as well as our local favorite, The Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO). There are also over 50+ acts, groups and performers, which will provide continuous entertainment on two main stages. There will be booths featuring local artists, fine literary works by Fil-Am authors, plus Youth and Senior citizen pavilions.
FPAC showcases Filipino cuisine like no other event, featuring both traditional and more contemporary offerings from booths and food trucks alike. This year you can sample the delicious fare from Aling Neri’s, Asian BBQ, Boba Joe’s, House of Seafood, Halo-Halo from Amie Ramirez, Ramar Foods, Jackson Enterprises, Oh My Gulay, White Rabbit, Flippin’ Yolk, and Curbside Cravings.
You can tell a lot about an event from the sponsors it attracts. FilamARTS has managed FPAC with much professionalism and integrity, that FPAC 21’s sponsors include the California Community Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation & Parks, the City of LA Dept. of Cultural Affairs, the Christian Foundation for Children & Aging, theAlliancefor California Traditional Arts,Toyota, State Farm, and the Getty Foundation.
I have brought my daughters (all three) to FPAC since they were babies, and they are who they are because of FPAC. They, unlike some of their contemporaries, have a unique appreciation and love of Filipino Culture and the Arts; more importantly, they consider being Filipino-American an asset, not as a liability. As a family we have all served as volunteers and supporters of this annual festival, and the impact of FPAC on our lives has been tremendous. Without FPAC, I would not know where I could bring my kids to experience and celebrate true Filipino artistry, talent and pride. Without FPAC, there would be no venue for our Fil-Am youth to convene at least once a year to really learn about Philippine arts, culture and heritage, without being bombarded by purely commercial interests and sketchy sales promotions. And without FPAC, there would not be an annual staging area to build community and develop future Fil-Am leaders: this festival utilizes more than 400 volunteers, mostly our 2nd-generation Fil-Ams. Where else would these Fil-Am kids learn about their culture in a trendy, hip, cool kinda way? At FPAC, there is a palpable, magical vibe in the air, a pride for traditions, ideas and symbols Pinoy that transcends crass commercialism and old-country bravado. Once you’ve attended FPAC, you will want to come again and again, to bring yourself, your children and loved ones and allow them the unique Fil-Am experience that is the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture.
Tickets for FPAC21 are $9 (Free for children 5 and under) each day. Two-day passes are available for $15. Ample complimentary and all-day parking with free shuttle service is available at 22nd Street and Sampson Way. For more information including updated program schedules and late vendor and sponsorship details, please visit filamarts.org or call 213.380.3722