Around the end of Saturday evening, Delano's 45th annual Philippine Weekend had one last bang for all its visitors, along with a spectacular fireworks show for neighbors living near Cecil Park, where the weekend Barrio Fiesta resided this past weekend.

Event coordinator, Delilah Mascarinas, said Philippine Weekend has morphed into a whole month of activities. The three-day Cecil Park event kicked off with Friday night's Adobo Cookoff. Then Saturday morning's annual downtown parade took place followed by the Barrio Fiesta Opening Ceremonies at Cecil Park. Other events included cultural entertainment and live performances, basketball and tennis tournaments, weekend dance and singing contests, Santacruzan procession and bingo.

"We really start that first weekend of July with our Tiny Tots contest," she said. "Congrats to our 2019 Tiny Tots Court: Princess Jaiden Cantorna, King Jacob Rutter, Queen Koumba Diallo and Princess Bea Mendoza."

Back on July 13 at the Cesar E. Chavez High School auditorium, the 2019 Miss Philippine Weekend pageant was held and the 2019 Miss Philippine Weekend Queen Zhakeila Cabico was crowned.

This year, instead of a Mrs. Philippine Weekend event, Mascarinas said the group held a gala tribute to honor the past queens.

Ruby Ibarra and the Balikbayans, the Philippine-born rap star, who grew up in the Bay Area, was the featured entertainment on Saturday.

Also, the San Juan family was named this year's Grand Marshal, whose three-generations have been very supportive to Philippine Weekend.

This year's Mabuhay Spirit Award went to Chio and Butter Gonzales. Mascarinas said even though the couple is not Filipino, they attend all the Filipino events and have been very supportive too.

"They are there to offer us anything we need," she said. "We just wanted to appreciate all they have done for us."

All local, state and national officials either attended or sent representatives, Mascarinas said. On Saturday night, the group set off a fireworks show about 10 p.m.

"We did it because it was a special anniversary, our 45th year," she added. "We don't do it every year. Next time, it'll be for our 50th year."

Sunday featured all cultural entertainment, including the winners of Saturday's singing and dancing contests performing.

The day also had championship games for its annual basketball tournament, as well as the tennis tournament.

"Hopefully, we will be done by 8 p.m. so we can clean up and get out of here at a decent time," Mascarinas said Sunday morning.

She is glad about one thing, though: Delano Union School District did not begin classes on Monday. It pushed back the start of the school year to the following Tuesday.

"So, we have a week to recuperate this year," she laughed.

"In past years, we would get out kind of late on Sunday, and we would be so tired, the kids too," Mascarinas said. "So all of us would be going back that first day like zombies."

As has been the norm, Philippine Weekend usually is one of the hottest weekends of the year. And Sunday's forecast of 109 degrees was no different.

"We have fans and misters," she said. "We try to stay under the canopies as much as possible. It's not that bad. I remember one year it was 115 degrees."

Philippine Weekend originated in Delano in summer 1975 as a way to bring the island-born and American-born Filipinos together. Now it brings families and friends together from across the country. Filipinos are a proud race, rich in culture and typified by the togetherness, friendly gatherings and hard work of Delano-area citizens who have built Philippine Weekend into a celebration that has become an icon within the community of Delano.

It is now an annual tradition. Local Filipinos and friends of all cultures joined by people from throughout the state come to view basketball games and examples of the Filipino culture.

Mascarinas said she has been the event chair for the past eight years and has a team that works very well together.

"We take care of each other," she said.

The group is in good financial shape, and she may want someone else to take over in a few years, though.

"I'm getting to that age where I had to come home for a little bit on Saturday to rest," she said. "I would like to pass the torch to someone who has the same passion that we do. It has been 45 years, and we are a very reputable organization now.

"I would want us to keep going forward, and not regress," Mascarinas said. "We've been together for years, and it will be hard to give it up."

"I'm no spring chicken," she laughed. "Right now, my mind says 'yes," but sometimes, my body says, 'no' ... They want me to stay until the 50th celebration. We'll see what happens."

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