19-year-old Filipino American Meghan Fors never had a real interest in learning about her Filipino culture. Born in the United States, she simply saw the Philippines as another country in the world. But her viewpoint changed when she attended her first Pistahan event in 2011.
“I grew up only identifying myself as an American. I knew that my mother was an immigrant from the Philippines but since I was born in New York, I didn’t think much of my Filipino side. But after I went to Pistahan, I acquired a newfound interest in Filipino culture. I especially enjoyed the smells of the food,” recalls Fors.
It is not uncommon for first generation immigrants and their second generation counterparts to face difficulties understanding each other. And for Filipinos and Filipino Americans, Pistahan is being regarded as an event that helps establish a connection between these generations.
“Pistahan exposes a lot of traditional Filipino culture to the younger Filipino American community through the live performances they hold which includes cultural dances,” said 24-year_old SF State student Nicole Cruz. “They also have Filipino food contests and cook-offs. Local Filipino American singers and YouTube stars come out. The youth are really into them as well as the Filipino American modern and hip hop dancers that perform there as well.”
The festival has many college students in attendance such as those from SF State University’s Fil-Am organization PACE (Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor).
“Pistahan serves as a great way for our members to nourish themselves of this melting pot of a culture we have in order to ‘know our roots,” said 22-year-old former PACE head coordinator Frances Reyes.
Florence Mendoza, who has been a part of organizing Pistahan ever since the event’s inception twenty years ago, also feels that Pistahan helps bring the Filipino American youth closer to their roots.
“The youth is special because they think as Filipino Americans and not just Filipinos,” Mendoza said. “As such, they are able to see a larger picture and integrate both cultures. This helps create a sense of community as well as a connection between the young Filipino Americans and their ancestors.”
As someone who has been involved with Pistahan for so long, Mendoza says that she has developed an understanding of both traditional and modern Filipino attitudes.
“Pistahan has helped me reach out to both the old and new generations,” said Mendoza. “It truly is a bridge that brings us all together.”
The 20th annual Pistahan Parade and Festival will take place this weekend on Saturday August 10 and Sunday August 11 at 11am on both days. The parade will take place on Saturday at 11 a.m. and begin at Civic Center and the festivities will take place at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.