DELANO — Despite the 100-plus degree heat, residents and those from outside the area came together this week to celebrate the Filipino culture and community.

Delano is holding its annual Philippine Weekend this week, which features a parade, basketball and tennis tournaments, live entertainment, a cook-off and other activities. The event kicked off on Thursday and will wrap up Sunday.

“I think it’s great because it’s one way for us to teach the next generation not just [the Filipino] culture but Delano’s culture as a whole,” said Delano resident Chris Nelmida. “It’s something they can do during the summer but they’re also actually learning something about themselves. It’s about family.”

Nelmida said he has participated in the Philippine Weekend in the past as a dancer and was part of a committee that organizes the event. This year, however, he didn’t have time to prepare for or participate in the event, so he’s just a regular attendee.

“It’s a lot different not being behind the scenes, but I can just enjoy it a little more now and not worry about performing,” he said.

While the event is largely focused on Delano residents, Nelmida said a lot of people travel from throughout the state to watch and participate each year. Many non-Filipino residents in Delano also come to enjoy the event and express their support for the Filipino community.

“The whole town gets together, and that means a lot,” Nelmida said.

He said Philippine Weekend has meant a lot to him personally as well. During his senior year of high school, it inspired him to pick Asian American studies as his college major. He is planning to get a master’s degree in the subject in the near future.

“I hope to be an Asian American Studies professor,” he said. “I want to start teaching that here in the valley.”

One of the parade attendees on Saturday was Ruttche Javar, who comes to the event just about every year.

“I think it’s pretty cool for us to get to celebrate who we are, have a chance to celebrate our culture just like how Mexicans are able to celebrate theirs with Cinco de Mayo,” Javar said.

California State University, Bakersfield student Alexa Rivera came out to the parade primarily to see her mom, Delano Union School District Superintendent Rosalina Rivera, who participated in the event. Being about a quarter Filipino, Rivera said she’s come to enjoy and appreciate Philippine Weekend.

“I like the unity of it,” she said. “Everyone comes together, even those that aren’t Filipino, and that’s great to see. It gives you a real sense of community.”

Destiny Lagunsad attended the parade along with several other members of her family, including her 3-year-old niece Audrey. She said her family has a tradition of going to a few of the events during Philippine Weekend while also cooking at home and having a celebratory family meal.

“It’s a weekend of family and fun,” she said. “We’re proud and happy to be represented in this town.”

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at jluiz@bakersfield.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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