« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Kyle Potter, Published August 04 2013

‘Pista Sa Nayon’ celebration in full swing in Fargo

FARGO – The sounds, songs and dancing of the Philippines filled two ballrooms here Saturday night as local Filipino Americans gathered at their “Pista Sa Nayon,” an annual summer festival.

Nearly 100 Filipino Americans and their families got a taste of their homeland islands of Southeast Asia at the Holiday Inn. The event is organized by FilAmMinDak, a cultural association for Filipino Americans Minnesota and North and South Dakota, and guests traveled from all three states for the weekend festival.

It’s a chance for Filipino Americans in the region to meet one another, FilAmMinDak President Dr. Amador Dizon said after watching his two daughters sing “Hawak Kamay,” a pop hit from back home sung in their native tongue, Tagalog.

More than 210 Filipino Americans reported living in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area, according to the 2010 U.S. Census – about a tenth of 1 percent of the area’s population. But Filipinos are the third-largest Asian ancestry group in the metro, behind Indian and Chinese Americans.

Filipino Americans make up about 1.1 percent of the U.S. population.

Dizon moved from Laguna – a province near the capital city of Manila – to the United States about 25 years ago, and started getting involved in FilAmMinDak in 2000. He makes it back home once every three years.

“Minnesota has 10,000 lakes. The Philippines have 7,000-plus islands,” Dizon said, many of them unnamed and uninhabited.

Dizon said the about 20 performers learned their songs and dances in just two weeks for the festival

Some dances were somber – the Sa Mindanao is an interpretation of Filipino children’s struggle with poverty on Mindanao, the second-largest island of the Philippines. Others were upbeat, like the Maglalatik, in which two Filipino men strap coconut shells on their chests, knees, stomach and back and hit themselves – and each other –with a pair of shells in hand to the beat of the song.

Dr. Dubert Guerrero and his family have come to Pista Sa Nayon each summer since they moved to the Fargo area three years ago. Guerrero, a Philippines native who moved to the United States nine years ago, said the traditional dancing brings him back every year.

“It’s the only time that you can reminisce about home,” he said.

Oh, and the food is great, too, Guerrero said. But the smells of traditional Filipino food didn’t waft through the ballroom Saturday night.

That comes at today’s picnic in Moorhead’s Gooseberry Park, where Dizon said they’ll serve Filipino favorites like adobo, a pork dish sautéed in vinegar, garlic and soy sauce. There will also be dinuguan, another pork dish that swaps the vinegar and soy sauce for a dark brown gravy made primarily with pig’s blood.

Dizon said Filipinos often refer to dinuguan as “chocolate meat.”

“So they don’t know it’s blood,” he said with a laugh, after promising that it’s delicious.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kyle Potter at (701) 241-5502