Fun at the Fiesta Filipinas!
Hosts Paolo Abrera and Chal Rosario

8 March 2021

The Fiesta Filipinas virtual experience is an innovative way of displaying the brilliant Filipino culture and a fantastic way of sharing that culture with the rest of the world during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines in conjunction with the Department of Tourism and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts made it possible to experience and celebrate the Fiesta Filipinas across the globe. A virtual multi-sensory experience in six parts, which started in December of 2020 and ends in May of 2021, was created to celebrate the various festivals.
Jayde Bhana and Dilon Bhana fully immersed in the Fiesta from Pretoria, South Africa

Logging into the online event, hosted on Zoom, shows the variety of people from all corners of the globe, from Belgium to South Africa, Filipino and otherwise, enjoying the unique experiences of the Fiesta Filipinas. The events hosts, Paolo Abrera and Chal Rosario, were skilful in their engagement with the virtual audience and the smooth running of the events.

In each segment, the viewer was able to experience the virtual tours through the cities of the Philippines. Some of the cities showcased were Baguoi, the country’s summer capital and Cebu during the Panagbenga Festival. In Baguoi some of the great artists of the Philippines were highlighted and in Cebu some delicious foods were displayed during the Sinulog, Ati-Atihan and Dinagyang Festivals.

The festival kits provided by the Embassy of the Philippines in South Africa were packed full of Filipino goodies, including dried mangos, healthy fruit crisps, dark chocolate and more and arts and crafts tools to fully immerse the participants in the Filipino culture. Included in the presentations to show off the beauty of the Philippines, viewers were encouraged to wear headphones to enjoy the curated audio tour of the Filipino celebrations through the cities.

During the Panagbenga celebration, this audio experience was enjoyed while sipping on the delicious Benguet Bourbon Coffee provided in the festival kit. According to the live chat feature on the Zoom presentation, this coffee was wildly popular among the viewers.

The first festival in December was the Giant Lantern Festival. In February the Sinulog, Ati-Atihan and Dinagyang Festival invited participants to create their very own festival headdresses as worn during the celebrations with items provided in the kit or found around the house and the Panagbenga Festival, which is the flower festival, where we joined in creating our very own flower arrangements.

At the end of each presentation, the hosts took advantage of the features that a live Zoom has and interviewed a few people about their experiences in this ‘new normal’ Fiesta. During this part it was clear to see that although there were many people around the world who were sharing in the experience of the Fiesta Filipinas as newcomers, there were many Filipino people from around the globe enjoying the familiar celebrations away from home.

All-in-all these festivals were truly tantalising to the taste, experiential to the eyes, sublime to the ears and activating to the creativity. And it is not over yet; there are more virtual festivals to enjoy until May.

By Dilon Bhana