Colorful 25th Pistahan celebrates Filipino culture and heritage anew

Dignitaries on stage.
Folkdance Tinikling on stage

On its milestone year, the perennial annual Filipino festival Pistahan now on its 25th   staging, once again celebrated and showcased with pomp and glamour Filipino culture and heritage, mostly through cultural dances and music garbed in native dresses, that was started with a parade along the major thoroughfares of downtown San Francisco.

Once again, Filipinos from all over the Bay Area some coming from as far as Southern California and as far as Seattle Washington came together and converged at the starting point at the Civic Center near San Francisco City Hall to  join in the kickoff parade that marked the start of the festivities.   .

Both Filipino and non-Filipino dignitaries from all over rode their fancy cars and joined those on foot as they made their way to the Pistahan venue in Yerba Buena.

Big names seen in the Pistahan Parade included Hermano and Hemana Mayor John and Rebecca Delgado Rottman, Parade Grand marshals Daly City Mayor Juslyn Manalo and NBA World Champion Golden State Warriors Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Cabalquinto, Philippine Consulate in San Francisco Consul General Henry Bensurto, Jr and a host of political leaders led by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, State Senator Scott Weiner, Assemblymember Phil Ting and San Mateo Supervisor David Canepa, among others.

After the parade, everyone assembled at the Yerba Buena, the venue proper where nonstop entertainment numbers were performed aside from the features that each booths in seven different pavilions offer.    .

Feeling fulfilled and happy, Filipino American Arts and Exposition President Al Perez was nostalgic in saying it that with the 25th Pistahan “it is important to step back and look back how far we came from. It is definitely a journey getting to this point. We have had our growing pains getting to this but in the end we are happy that we made it.”

“The 25th Pistahan is very successful, the parade had a lot of participants, a lot more variety, and had a lot of cultural groups and members of the community participating. The parade really is a reflection of our diversity in our community and I am happy about that,” Perez assessed. “The seven pavilions we are able to organize every year are educational, hands-on and interactive. It is our way to make sure that people connect with the culture in a meaningful way having a cultural experience instead of just eating idly and watching entertainment. We want people to discover something new. This is my 16th year in volunteering and I am still learning something new.”

Perez also believes that the importance of staging Pistahan after twenty five years remain the same as their mission has always been to broaden awareness and deepen understanding of Filipino culture and heritage although because of the political climate, “it is more important for Filipinos to embrace our heritage all the more, showcase our diversity as we are part of a larger whole and we will support other minorities for we need to stick together. Events like these make us proud of our roots, from where we came from, realize that there is a lot of us and there is strength in numbers.”

Philippine Consulate in San Francisco Consul General Henry Bensurto, Jr. is so happy to see Filipinos., Filipino Americans, other nationalities converging at Pistahan “because this is exactly what we want – platform where we can have fun, showcase our culture and at the same time allow others to come in to our world and understand who we are. I think this is the best one good way of building bridges with other people.”

“Events like Pistahan are very important especially in the context of changing demographics. There are more than three million Filipinos in the United States. In my jurisdiction of ten states alone, we have 1.5 million Filipino Americans. It is more important to have platforms like this so that we are able to reach out to those fast increasing number of younger Filipino Americans for us to be able to project our culture to the young generations of Filipino Americans. And this is one good platform for us to build that bridge,” Bensurto asserts. “So the organizers and volunteers, please never entertain the thought of stopping this event. You should continue the good work that you are doing because what you are doing is really helping the entire community of Filipino Americans but at the same time you are actually building bridges between different cultures.”

Here are some of the messages of the following for the 25th Pistahan:

Assemblymember Rob Bonta:– “What an accomplishment, achievement to have the Pistahan parade and festival going on after 25 years. It is the largest celebration of the Filipino-American community in the nation and always a moment of great pride to be here with community members and family celebrating our culture, our heritage, our arts, our history and, I think most importantly,  our contributions to building this nation, building the state and to prepare as we continue to grow as a population the fastest growing Asian American group in the state to come together to reenergize and we inspire one another for the important work ahead. So it is an exciting and proud day. And to all our fellow Filipinos and the organizers, Kaya Natin We can do it. “

California State Senator Scott Weiner—“It is a real honor to represent a large Filipino American community. We have a lot of work to do and parades help us to reenergize….We are all in this together and we all have these challenges right now in this state and this country and we are all going to work to address our housing problems, the wildfires, taking care of our kids, our seniors, and were going to get them done.”

Assemblymember Phil Ting— “The Filipino community has made huge contributions to California’s one of the largest Asia Pacific Islanders ethnic group, and their contributions to the labor movement, health care have been amazing. I think it is important at this time to stand together as immigrants and as a community with all Californians. The message is that it is great to stand as one community.”

San Mateo Supervisor David Canepa —“This is about life, about a community that has been here for a century. We can learn a lot from the Pistahan parade and the Filipino community. What we can learn about is celebrating all the good things that are happening here in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Federal administration can learn a lot from San Francisco and the Pistahan Parade.”

John and Rebecca Delgado RottmanHermano and Hermana Mayor

As a Hermana Mayor, you have to loan your name to the event, raise money to subsidize the expenses of putting this event together which is very expensive. We also have my husband’s Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction as one of the corporate sponsors for the event. It is a worthy cause it is very important for the Filipino Americans to get together today to celebrate our rich heritage and cultural practices. The Filipinos are the largest Asian population in the United States. This is also Filipino display of heritage and culture in the whole United States.”

Daly City Mayor Juslyn Manalo Parade Grand Marshal — “It is a huge feat for 25 years and 25 more years to come. This is what community is about when we celebrate together. To the organizers and volunteers, thank you so much for all your hard work and dedication and for having a vision that has come to reality. And to all the participants and everyone that has come to celebrate, MABUHAY!

Parade Grand Marshal Jennifer Cabalquinto, Chief Financial Officer of the Golden State Warriors — “It is such an honor, I am so humbled and it really feels amazing to be a grand marshal. I came to thank all the volunteers and organizers. I am also here to showcase our culture. It is the best to be among our kababayan here at the Pistahan. My message is to take pride in our Filipino culture and celebrate it today.”


Dignitaries gather onstage to reap praises on the staging of the 25th Pistahan in Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.

A lot of cultural groups like this showed up to entertain the crowd with the native dances in colorful dresses.

The predominantly Filipino crowd had a grand time going around the different booths in seven pavilions aside from watching entertainment numbers onstage.