Festival Brings Filipino-American Community Together in Salisbury
The Fiesta of the Santo Niño, which is a major cultural and religious festival in the Philippines itself, featured a variety of dishes from the southeast Asian nation made up of more than 7,000 islands. Filipino cuisine has Malay, Spanish, Chinese and American influences, reflecting the country’s geographical location as well as its colonial legacy. Some of the foods represented included adobo, chicken or pork stewed in soy sauce and vinegar as well as pancit, stir-fried noodles with meat and vegetables.
Highlighting Saturday’s event were a variety of traditional dances performed by members of Delmarva’s Filipino-American community. The most elaborate dance of the evening was the Singkil, which is a dance of the Maranao people, who hail from Philippines’ southern island of Mindanao. The Singkil, which means “to entangele the feet with disturbing objects such as vines or anything in your path,” is based off of the Darangen, the Maranao interpretation of the ancient Indian epic, the Ramayana. In this dance, which serves as a type of advertisement to potential suitors, the lead dancer, in the role of a princess, graciously steps in and out of closing bamboo poles arranged in criss-cross fashion while manipulating fans.
Another dance performed Saturday night showcased the northern, central and southern regions of the Philippines, with women dressed in traditional clothing from those respective areas. And a group of 12 young girls performed the Bulaklakan, a dance of floral garlands.
Jocelyn Endrina Smullen, of Fruitland, who also participated in the festival, described the event as a “showcase of Filipino hospitality.” She also said it helps Filipino-American children connect with their heritage.
“It is educational for Filipino children who were born in America and have not yet been home to the Philippines,” Smullen said.
Saturday’s event in Salisbury held every year in mid-January. Next year will mark the event’s silver anniversary.