The fiesta is a major cultural and religious festival in the Philippines, a southeast Asian nation made up of more than 7,000 islands. Filipino cuisine is literally a melting pot of Malay, Spanish, Chinese and American influences, reflecting the country’s geographical location as well as its colonial legacy. Some of the foods represented at this year’s fiesta in Salisbury included lechon (whole pig roasted over an open fire), adobo (chicken or pork stewed in soy sauce and vinegar) and pancit (stir-fried noodles with meat and vegetables that are very similar to Chinese lo mein).
Saturday’s event featured a variety of traditional dances performed by members of Delmarva’s Filipino-American community, including dances showcasing the northern, central and southern regions of the Philippines. One group of women performed the “Sinulog,” a traditional dance in honor of the “Santo Niño,” the baby Jesus.
Another traditional dance performed by a group of young Filipino-Americans was the “Tinikling,” which dates back to the Spanish colonial era. This dance, which in some ways is similar to jump rope (but more elaborate), involves two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination with one or more dancers who step over and in between the poles in a dance.
Dr. Greg Belloso of Salisbury, one of the fiesta’s organizers, said people unfamiliar with the event came away impressed after they experienced it for themselves.
“My friend Lou, who attended our fiesta for the first time, said, ‘This is fantastic! I have never seen anything like it! I live in the Baltimore area where there are many ethnic festivals, like the Irish festival, and I have seen most of them, but this is different. A whole community having a great feast, and celebrating with folk dances. All with the blessings of the church.'”
Another first-time attender was Maggie Bivens, who is originally from Singapore but has lived in Salisbury for more than 30 years. She said Saturday’s event brought back memories of her life in Asia.
“I’ve been here so long that I’ve forgotten the Asian culture, so I was very fascinated,” she said. “I’ve never attended any Asian events since I’ve been here. It was so wonderful to see the younger generation keeping it alive, the Filipino culture alive … The food was delicious and the entertainment was wonderful. I began to realize that I miss my own country.”