A taste of the Philippines in Seattle during Seafair

Seattle’s annual Seafair, which culminates in noisy and popular Blue Angels fly overs and hydroplane races on Lake Washington the first week and weekend of August, is a month-long potpourri of community events, health fairs, ethnic festivals, parades big and small, and very slick corporate and U.S. military glad-handling. Just about any community event within 50 miles is somehow branded under Seafair’s giant umbrella. Overall, most Seattle area residents love it, particularly the Navy jets that break the sound barrier over the city, shutting down traffic on our floating bridges for several hours at a time over several days.

Seafair also features micro celebrations of the city’s diversity and neighborhoods. This has been the norm ever since I first moved to Seattle in 1987 (I have now lived here on four separate occasions). This is the part of Seafair I enjoy the most.  And I really like the diversity that is showcased, including by the Filipino community (see photos below).

Though Seattle is 70 percent white, the all-inclusive and equally non-descriptive “Asian American” racial category represents 14 percent of the city’s population (and that diversity is even greater in south King County). Filipinos fit into that mix, and they number well over 30,000 of the city’s residents.

Filipino immigrants have been arriving in Seattle in successive waves since the 1880s, and have a strong presence in the community, thought not entirely represented proportionally in political offices. However, I once worked with the first Filipino-American lawmaker elected to the Washington State Legislature, former Representative Velma Veloria, when I was employed by the House Democratic Caucus in Olympia, for two legislative sessions more than a dozen year ago.

The Filipino celebration that takes place during Seafair is called Pista Sa Nayon, and it was held the last weekend of July in Seattle’s Seward Park. I caught the Filipino Youth Activity Drill Team during a rehearsal on the shores of Lake Washington. They were one of many performing groups that entertained residents on July 29, 2012. I have seen this group many times before – and they are always entertaining and beautiful to watch in their colorful Filipino costumes. (I am a huge fan of the Philippines, having travelled there in 2003, and I hope to get back there one day soon.) So here are a few shots taken with my new digital Nikon camera that I converted to black and white. I really enjoyed watching these ladies practice. If you are in Seattle, be sure to visit their Facebook page and see them around town.

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