Philippine Consul General to Dubai and the Northern Emirates Paul Raymund Cortes (left) samples ‘kakanin’ on Thursday evening. John Varughese/Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
The first ever barrio fiesta for Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates has been scheduled this December to usher in Christmas, the most significant holiday in the Philippines.
Details on the preparation and how the “village feast” would be staged were announced on Thursday evening in Dubai by the people behind the “Bayanihan Festival” Organising Committee led by Josie Conlu.
Atypical of the previous “Bayanihan Festival/s” the barrio fiesta has no competitions except for the “Dakilang Bayani Awards, the nominations of which were opened on Thursday.
The barrio fiesta is on Dec.6, Friday at the Zabeel Park in Dubai, under the auspices of the Philippine Consulate General in partnership with The Filipino Channel (TFC), the international media outlet of Metro Manila’s quad-media entity, ABS-CBN.
The barrio fiesta will typify a centuries-old tradition—even pre-dating the discovery of the 7,107 archipelago by Spain in the 16th century — and which has been carried over to the contemporary times — leading to the institutionalisation of 1,053 thus far single day to month-long festivals across the Southeast Asian country held either on the regional (18 regions), provincial (81 provinces), municipal (1,489 municipalities or towns) levels. Even the 42,044 barangays (of 100 households) organise their own mini yet grandiose village feasts.
A review of the Manila’s Department of Tourism-supported Philippine festivals had revealed the most number of festivals-cum-barrio fiestas are in May at 147. April, September, and June are at 141, 116, and 102, respectively. January has the least at 30.
Among the quaint is the Tilapia Festival every October in San Pablo City, Laguna (Southern Tagalog) Province — tilapia having been brought to the Philippines from Africa ages back for aquaculture. Lavandero Festival is every March in Metro Manila’s Mandaluyong City in honour of the men, most preferred to do the laundry because of their sturdy built and who did the washing at the crystal clear waters of Pasig River, towards the end of 19th century Spanish Period.
On Thursday, Conlu explained the tie-up with TFC was decided upon in order that the annual celebration of the “Bayanihan Festival” for the Filipino community in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah would be more celebratory.
For one, each of the three selected Philippine-based artists, to be led by Yeng Constantino, would not only perform at the most three songs but for one hour.
“So it is like watching three concerts in one night,” said Conlu.
According to TFC-Middle East/Europe/Africa managing director Joseph Arnie Garcia, the concept, the first-ever in the Gulf, is patterned after and similar to the “Barrio Fiesta” which the corporation has been co-organising with the Filipinos in the UK held in London that typically gathers 32,000 Filipinos, Fil-Brits, their families and their friends for a weekend in July.
“The Barrio Fiesta has long been a tradition in the UK, specifically in London for 35 years. We came in 10 years back because (we want to take part in the elevation of the) Filipino values and culture (internationally),” said Garcia.
He added: “We hope we could do the same here.” The Dubai version targets at least 52,000.
Sub-events for the December affair are the Likha (Creation) Fashion Show, Parol at Palamuti sa Pasko (Christmas Lantern and Décor for Christmas), Reina dela Fiesta (Queen of the Night), Sayaw Kontemporaryo (Modern Dance), Yugyugan Na (Dance Party), Baile Pinoy Ball (Ballroom Dancing), Pinoy Super Voice (Singing Segment), and the Parada ng Kakanin (Rice Cakes Parade).
Philippine rice cakes made from either glutinous rice or root crops, and with or without coconut milk/meat shreds, such as Kutsinta, Pitsi-Pitsi, Bibingkang Kanin, Nilupak, Biko, Sapin-Sapin are ordinary deserts also served at special occasions since these foretell as well as symbolise unity and brotherhood.
Details on the paid tickets would be announced soon.
Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn Quintana on Wednesday evening said Manila will participate in the Expo 2020 Dubai and its pavilion will be reflective of who the Filipino is not only in these modern times but through the ages and beyond.
The Philippine Consulate General (PCGDXB), in collaboration with sports enthusiasts and in its efforts to continually cement camaraderie among the 400,000 Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, is staging a Philippine inter-city basketball tournament from Aug. 9 to Sept. 20.
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In order to protect the health and safety of citizens, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, smoking of all forms (cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and shisha) is banned in closed public places," the health ministry said.