On Saturday, March 26, 2011, people gathered together in the Student Union of Tallahassee Community College for The Filipino Student Association of Florida State University’s Barrio Fiesta. This year, the event was co-hosted with the Tallahassee Community College Dance Company.
The day’s activities were divided into two sessions. The afternoon session was carnival-style with various booths that had games for all ages. By purchasing tickets, the crowd was able to bob for ducks, play a variation of Plinko, take the chance of guessing what mysterious items were hidden in boxes, and much more. Various merienda (snacks) items were sold alongside the game booths. All the proceeds from the carnival session, as well as any donations, would go directly to Gawad Kalinga – a Philippine-based poverty alleviation and nation-building foundation.
The afternoon session featured performances by many local artists. Lewis Thurston II, a local hip-hop artist with Positive Generation Entertainment, performed a piece that promoted forward movement within individuals and the community. Johnathan Tabo, a student and member of the Filipino Student Association of FSU, presented some original spoken word pieces. The Vietnamese Student Association of FSU’s S-Girls (Saigon Girls) performed a choreographed number to “Can’t Nobody” by Korean pop group, 2NE1, as well as a traditional Vietnamese hat dance. Other performances included a Beatboxing set by the vocal percussionist and FSU student, Kristina Lingao, a lovely hula performance by students Charlyn Buford and Toni-Rose Tamayo, as well as plenty of line dancing to keep the crowd lively.
After a brief intermission, they moved into the main event and evening session of the Barrio Fiesta. As the crowd enjoyed a free dinner catered by Lasang Pinoy – a local Philippine Cuisine food cart that recently opened on the FSU campus, the FSU FSA Indak Dance Troupe started off the night with a hip-hop dance variation of the traditional Cariñosa dance. Up next, The Tallahasse Community College Dance Company did a showcase of various dances ranging from modern pieces to hip-hop. Youtube Sensation, Erika David, performed as well covering songs such as “Rocketeer” by Far East Movement. She even went on to serenade a member of the audience with an original piece. Rich Kiamco, a Pilipino Comedian, took the stage and did a stand-up piece that kept the crowd laughing. The FSU FSA Indak Dance Troupe brought the evening to an end with their performance of Tinikling as well as their version of Singkil – which they executed with a regal kind of grace .
In general, Florida State University and the surrounding Tallahassee community consist of a small Pilipino population. They work and support each other in so many ways, and Barrio Fiesta is a way for them to come together before the end of the school year. Barrio Fiesta not only acts as a “get together” for Pilipino students and their families, but it is also a way to share the Pilipino culture with other students and the people of Tallahassee.
Since the Pilipino community is small in this region and there are not many Pilipino -specific events in the South, it is important to have events like Barrio Fiesta even if it is not on a grand scale. It still provides a vein in which the Pilipino culture can spread out to the community and reach those who may not know much about the Philippines. Any awareness is good awareness.
*Photo courtesy of Sean Viray Photography