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Manitoba Filipino Street

Festival is a GO this year

MFSF

Summers in Manitoba are never complete without big gatherings or festivals. But because of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, and the ever-changing health protocols aimed at halting infections, most of these community happenings have been limited, done virtually, or cancelled altogether. This summer, with the province loosening the public health restriction, organizers of the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival (MFSF) are pushing through with the festivities, albeit scaled down compared to past years.

Lucille Nolasco Garrido of The Pilipino Express interviewed Ley Navarro, Chairman of the MFSF, to talk about the festival scheduled this August 28 and 29.

Pilipino Express: Tell us how the preparations are going for the MFSF this year.

Ley Navarro: It’s quite challenging. The festival normally is in June and because we were not able to do a physical festival in almost two years, we decided to go for a scaled down event as soon as the improved COVID-19 situation allowed us to do so. But then, a lot of associations and groups were not ready and could not commit to participating. Some groups had already made plans, and some are understandably reluctant to be in a big gathering.

PE: Considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, what are the safety and health protocols in place for this year’s festival?

LN: Even before the pandemic, safety and health protocols have always been a priority for us. Every year, we strictly followed the province health and safety requirements. Hand washing stations will definitely increase this year and we’ll make sure an abundance of hand sanitizers is available. Constant reminders to observe proper distancing will be part of the emcees’ script.

PE: Under the latest provincial health rules implemented on August 7th, more people are allowed to gather, so how many people are you allowing or expecting to join the festival?

LN: 1,500 people is the number we are allowed to let in. We might decide to bring it down to 1,000. That is a fraction of the 10,000 attendees we used to get pre-COVID. Maybe next year.

PE: Will you be requiring a proof of vaccination for attendees?

LN: Yes, we will.

PE: What will be among the highlights of this year’s street festival?

LN: This is a scaled down festival, and we will not have the annual Cultural Parade and no movie star from the Philippines. We do have local “stars” for sure. This year, attendees with have a close-up experience of BIBAK’s Cañao and the authentic feel of a Santa Cruzan at dusk, with elegant Reyna Elenas and beautifully adorned arches by the Quezon Province Association of Manitoba.

PE: Take us back a few years when you were just starting. What were the goals and objectives that have been met, and what will be the plan moving forward?

LN: When we started, the goal was simply to present a few of the hundreds of festivals celebrated all over the Philippines, while encouraging associations and groups in our community to come together, in a one-day fiesta. But soon after the success of the first festival, we had to come up with pre-festival and post-festival activities familiar to Filipinos in Manitoba. Activities like parol making and carolling contest. Moving forward, we can only hope that a new group of volunteers from our community will take over and soon, to continue what we have started.

We invite everyone to come out and spend a day with us at the festival. We have barely three weeks to prepare, but be that as it may, no matter what, when we come together as Filipinos, we will have fun, for sure.

PE: Do you have other projects after this August event?

LN: Yes, on September 25, MFSF will be holding Ang Galing Mo, Ipakita Mo, a talent competition open to all members of any Filipino association or group in Manitoba. In October, the 4th Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika, the annual concert featuring songs from Filipino composers from the 50s to the present, interpreted by some of our local singers. And in November, plans are being made for MFSF’s own version of a Santa Claus parade, parol making contest, and carolling contest.

For more details, visit the MFSF website, manitobafilipino.com, or their Facebook page.

Santa Cruzan

Cañao