There will be something for everyone to enjoy as the community comes to together to celebrate culture at the upcoming Fil-Am Festival.
The event, set for 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 16 at The Plaza mall, is coordinated by the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition, and aims to provide a fun and festive way to engage the community in learning about Filipino culture during the nationwide Filipino-American History month. There will be food, crafts, informational booths, displays, contests and games.
KWC's health equity program coordinator, Alma Manabat Parker, organized the event. She started her position in August, and came up with the idea soon after.
"And I think by that end of the (first) week, I was like, 'I'm going to throw a festival and it's going to be in October, because it's Filipino-American history month," Manabat Parker told the Daily News during a Monday phone interview. "And it was a great opportunity to introduce my project, but also again, to celebrate a culture that's so prominent here and show how Filipino-American history is part of our history in Alaska."
Manabat Parker recalled that Ketchikan was the first Alaska community to establish a Filipino community center, and hopes the Fil-Am Festival "will ignite a fire and just show the importance of having a Filipino cultural center in Ketchikan."
As a child, Manabat Parker said she used to attend Filipino dance classes in Ketchikan, "and at that time of course you're just dragging your feet, like 'Aw man, you have to go,'" but the practices took place at a Filipino community center.
"But right now we don't have our own space, our own building," she said.
Manabat Parker hopes to change that, and bring back "the festivals that we used to have."
"But what better ways to just start with a festival that invites everyone to come and see what we're about and maybe learn something different that they don't normally see," she said.
There will be several cultural demonstrations at the festival.
"We have some entertainment, we have some demonstrations, we are showing some of our traditional reglia and attire, as well as bags and baskets and things that you would find in the Philippines," Manabat Parker said. "What's really cool about the Philippines that a lot of people don't know is that not onl y is it a country made up of 7,000 plus islands, but the region itself is broken up into three distinct regions with eight different dialects, so we are diverse within our own culture. So that I think a lot of people tend to forget, is that we are not just one box of Filipinos, but within that Filipino category, if you want to call it, it's been broken into different subcategories and subcultures."
"We have a couple Filipino dances that we're working on; we have a Filipino martial arts demonstration; (and) we have a lot of traditional Filipino games that kids can participate in, like our recess games that you would do during play time," Manabat Parker explained. "We have lumpia rolling instructions and festival contest, to see who does the best lumpia roll. So we're really trying to be creative and be something that you don't typically see at our Fourth of July booths or our Blueberry booths."
Visitors also can purchase a food pass, which they can then use to select three different dishes from the variety of food that will be available at the festival.
"And we will just have a little walk through, and people can look, it's just like a little display of all the food we are selling," Manabat Parker said.
The food area of the festival will be called the "Kain na" food court — Tagalog for "eat now" — and will present an array of options.
"It's interesting because a lot of people expect lumpia and pancit and chicken adobo, but we are trying to bring new foods that you wouldn't normally see," Manabat Parker said. "So there's going to be a lot of different tastes that will please or displease people, but I think everybody will have the opportunity to see something different."
PeaceHealth, The Plaza mall, First Bank, Wolf Point Produce, Legacy Real Estate, Salmon Market, KWC, community restaurants and "just people who want to be involved and really bring back the festivals we used to have" have lent a hand to make the event possible. Manabat Parker noted that Parnassus Books also has displayed Filipino regalia and new books about Filipino-American history month. New cultural exchange teachers from the Philippines also are involved in supporting the event.
"So it's awesome that all the community, non-Filipino and Filipino, are coming together to support the event," she said.
"The great thing about Ketchikan is obviously that there's like people (who) come together, especially Filipinos, when you're highlighting and celebrating such a prominent population here in Ketchikan, we do have very much an active and supportive group of people who want to help in any capacity," Manabat Parker said.
A flyer regarding the event is posted on www.kwc.org.