Applause rang out Saturday evening as a parade of costumed dancers emerged into the Killeen Civic and Conference Center for the opening of the 16th annual Barrio Festival.
Hosts Minda Kenworthy and Phillip Bowman introduced Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra, who presented the executive director of Cultura Filipiniana, Lily Cruz, with a proclamation commemorating the event. Segarra said the festival is designed to share the art and culture of the Philippines with the community.
“Cultura Filipiniana dance group not only entertains with a repertoire of music and dance by local talent, but also educates others so they can appreciate the gift of the Filipino culture.”
From 6 to 11 p.m., hundreds of visitors celebrated the traditions and cultures of the Philippines in a tribute to the “Aliwan Fiesta,” an annual event that gathers different cultural festivals of the Philippines in Star City.
Guests were treated to an array of delicacies to include boodle fight, Filipino barbecue, dried squid, lumpia and roasted pig. Regional dances from across the islands were performed. Attendees also experienced two kinds of Philippine traditions: Bayanihan, the spirit of communal unity, and Harana, a form of rural courting.
Texas Arnis Senko-Tiros, a Philippine martial arts group from Temple, showcased a daring display of skills with escrima sticks, barong swords, and espada knives much to the delight of everyone.
But the festival also demonstrated the unique spirit of the Filipino people and how it impacts the Philippine youth of central Texas.
“The Filipino people, despite the hardships that they have gone through and how they go overlooked in history, have an incredible spirit of joy and a strong work ethic regardless of the circumstances,” said America McCoy, a senior at Belton High School. “So, being able to be at this festival and experience my heritage in a way I never was able to do before is really important to me and my family.”