Each year, Philippine Weekend brings new surprises, talent and events that continue to grow in tradition and popularity to the community of Delano.

The 44th annual event is no different, especially for potential first-timers.

“This festival is not only for the Filipino culture, but for the whole city of Delano,” said Philippine Weekend Chair Delilah Mascarinas.

“We are in our 44th year, and I still hear people in town say that they have never gone to our festival,” she said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the community to learn about our beautiful culture, eat our delicious foods and see some amazing entertainment. And it is all free! I believe we are the only festival that you don’t have to pay an entrance fee to enjoy.”

Mascarinas wants to remind everyone that it is a family festival with activities for everyone. There will be a couple of grand marshals this year, actually a married couple: Delano Chamber of Commerce Director Janet Rabanal and her husband, Hubert Rabanal, a member of the Delano Union School District board of directors.

Philippine Weekend consists of many activities.

Beginning on Thursday night, the 3-on-3 basketball tournament begins for the youth of Delano. On Friday, the official basketball tournament begins, and preparations are underway in Cecil Park for the weekend festivities. Saturday morning starts off with the Grand Parade down Main Street, terminating at Cecil Park where the festivities begin. All day long, the basketball tournament continues as the opening ceremonies begin at the park.

On Sunday, the entertainment and basketball tournament continue along with the finals of the singing contest. Later that evening is the basketball tournament championship game and more entertainment on the park stage. The booths open at 10 a.m. and remain open during daylight hours.

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 and friendly gatherings and the hard work of Delano-area citizens have built Philippine Weekend into a celebration that has become an icon within the community.

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

In its preparation, Philippine Weekend has brought together the American-born with the Philippine-born, the mestizos with the pure, the established families with the recent arrivals, the hardworking Manongs in the camps with the young Pinoys in town.

The participation of many Filipino basketball teams from various locations, along with the several cultural and recreational events, has brought people closer together. It is the desire of the Philippine Weekend committee to provide each year a basis for the growth and enrichment — through various displays of history, culture, sportsmanship, and good cheer — of those who attend the event.

Much of Philippines’ history has been integrated into the various events, keeping in mind the spirit and character of Dr. Jose Rizal (1861-1896), a man whose beliefs in the Filipino cause were so strong that his death gave life to the hopes and dreams of Filipinos everywhere. He continues to be revered as a national hero and has had greater influence on our people than any other man.

Philippine Weekend serves as an avenue for elders to pass along their heritage to their offspring through cultural events and activities. Youngsters are given the opportunity to acknowledge and accept the beautiful tradition and pageantry of their people.

Felix Aroy, an originator of Philippine Weekend, recalled how Fred Dulay, a member of Caballeros Dimas Alang, proposed the group help organize basketball teams for young Filipinos to unite American-born and Filipino-born and to show other nationalities “our identity and deep love we have for our culture and heritage.”

The proposal was supported by a $500 donation. Then, said Aroy, came the basketball tournament and accompanying activities.

Realization of the tournament and other events of Philippine Weekend came about because of the persistence and hard work of a dedicated group of youths dubbed the Vanguard Task Force.

That group planned, organized and implemented all of the events and forged the community relationships to create the celebration.

The core group included, but was not limited to, Rogelio Gadiano, Alex Edillor, Herb Delute, Johnny and Eddie Cristobal, Chris Bernido, Max Bacerra, Rolando Gadiano, Arcadio Jose and Marilou Fruta.

Also participating with the Delute, Ordiz, Mina, Jose, Galan, Dahilig, Rabanal, Calip, Velasco, Reyes, Salim, San Antonio and Madrid families was the United Filipino Organization of Delano High School.

Mascarinas doesn’t have to remind folks that sometimes temperatures can be a little high.

“I know it can be hot, but our people are used to the weather because it compares to the Philippines,” she laughed.

Gene Garaygordobil is a longtime journalist, Delano resident and editor of DelanoNow.com. He can be reached at 661-586-4469 or GeneG@DelanoNow.com

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