15 July 2007

Follow me... to the Barrio Fiesta!

This year sees the 23rd Barrio Fiesta (a Philippine festival) in London. Barrio Fiestas take place throughout the world, depending on Filipino population from once a year to several times a year. Compared to the last and first one I went to (in Vienna, last summer), this one here in Hounslow, London was huuuuuge (last year 60 000 people came on one single day which is why it is now held for two days)! Sooo much good food, the smell of childhood, authentic Philippine food! I am sure there were at least 50 stalls selling their food. As you can see below, I enjoyed one of my favourite Filipino desserts, Sapin-Sapin, a rice & yam pudding-like cake served with brown grated coconut! Gosh, ang sarap-sarap (tagalog for, "it was really yummy")!!!

Now when you got out of the tube, there is a stream of Filipinos flocking to the park where it took place. The park itself - I thought, "Where the hell did all these Filipinos come from?!?" You know, I've lived in London for a year now and I might only have seen ten Filipinos in total, four of them while having blood drawn in a hospital. Amazing! Some of them came with their British husbands...

To give you an overview of the scene: There is this big place in the park where all around dozens of stalls sell hot food, groceries, desserts (it is quite amusing to see Indian bobbies patrolling the site with a cup of halo-halo - that is multicultural London!), ube-flavoured ice-cream (violet yam, in the Philippines, not only children love the flavour), advertise native travel agencies, real estate in the Philippines, UNISON membership (one of the trade unions in the UK), money transfer services, T-Shirts, native crafts, recruitment agency services for nurses etc. etc.!

There was a display of folk dance but unfortunately no Eskrima one (Eskrima is the Philippine martial art, it is synonymously known as Arnis and Kali, practised with everyday objects like sticks of different length but also knives or machetes, developed by the oppressed during Spanish rule to defend themselves). Ping and I know how difficult it is to find a club where you can actually learn and practice Eskrima, especially in Austria. There is one offered at ULU but it was too expensive!

Below the engines of low-flying airplanes approaching or departing nearby Heathrow Airport(just three more tube stops, surely just around 3-5 km away), one of the most popular Filipino artists, singer Regine Velasquez, "Asia's Songbird" (who came to the Wiener Stadthalle several years ago) , gave a free open-air concert!

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