‘Tis the Season to be Filipino

29 Dec

For Filipino cultural performers, the holidays are the last season of the performance cycle.  It all starts in spring with Pilipino Culture Night (PCN) rehearsals.  By the end of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, the busy festival-laden summer season gets into gear, with a heavy spike in activity around June 12th independence celebrations.  The end of summer is just the end of the first half of the performance season, because something very interesting happens once you get into the “-ber” or “brrrr” months–the Filipino holiday season has begun.

Rondalla for Christmas

Rondalla (Filipino guitar ensemble) for Holiday cheer! With Albert Aumentado & Lendl San Jose

That’s right, September 1st is officially the first day of the Filipino holiday season, which means Christmas music plays for Filipinos two and a half months before the American holiday music season, which traditionally starts the day after Thanksgiving.  In September, most of us Filipino cultural performers in California are still doing summer festivals, and many independent dance troupes begin working on their Fall Recital programs.

October is Filipino-American Heritage Month, so it is jam-packed with celebrations, showcases, cultural events, and now, Fil-Am themed major sporting events too.  In November the holiday motif becomes the main dish, with many Filipino Christmas themes present for Thanksgiving celebrations.  December is the main event, “Pasko Na!” (It’s Christmas time!), with midnight masses, family gatherings, gift giving, gift-shipping (by the box), and non-stop singing until the big night, “Nochebuena.”

Island style holidays with guitar & 'ukulele.

Home-Style caroling with Lendl San Jose aka "'UkuLenny"

It doesn’t end there, folks.  In the Philippines, Christmas doesn’t end after opening Santa’s presents.  It continues until January 6th, until the Kings of Orient (all the way from the Pearl of the Orient?) get their chance to bring their gifts (pasalubong) to the manger in a foreign land.  This is where I mark the end of the Filipino cultural performance season, but the break is brief, because not long after January 6th, Filipino student association officers will begin the heavy lifting involved in getting PCN ready for spring, and some independent dance troupes will be polishing their repertoire for to audition for a spot at the prestigious San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.

Looking forward to a gong-tastic 2011!  Mabuhay!

Kulintang Top Gong Close-Up

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One Response to “‘Tis the Season to be Filipino”

  1. Aileen Suzara February 9, 2011 at 4:54 am #

    It was a gongtastic close to 2010. Hopefully, people will soon realize that holiday food tastes even better when there’s live kulintang in the room! Salamat! :D

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