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  Barrio Fiesta

The concept for the Filipino Barrio Fiesta (Village Festival) in Darwin was developed and was successfully staged for the first time in August 1997 as the main cultural activity of the FAANT. The Barrio Fiesta project served as a grand occasion and opportunity for all Filipino-Australians in Darwin and in Australia's Top End to showcase the artistic talents of Filipinos in all ages in performing arts and, at the same time, share the rich and diverse Filipino cultural heritage with the wider Darwin community.

The Barrio Fiesta adds colour to the Darwin festive atmosphere and multicultural diversity and lifestyle of Territorians. It creates an opportunity for the Filipino-Australians in the Top End to establish their own cultural identity through arts, crafts, education, sports and recreation in this multicultural and pluralistic society.

The Filipino Community Centre served as a meeting place for old acquaintances and to establish new friendships amongst Filipinos in other regions and with members of other ethnic groups attending the Barrio Fiesta. Above all, it served to promote and foster the Filipino spirit and sense of cooperation, harmony and unity.

As a result, the Darwin Filipino Barrio Fiesta has succeeded in promoting the image of the Philippines as the "Fiesta Islands". There are hundreds of Fiestas in the Philippine archipelago composed of more 7100 islands and three main regions. The highlight of the Filipino festival is the crowning of the Mutya ng Barrio Fiesta (Little Princess of the Festival) or Lakambini ng Barrio Fiesta (Queen of the Festival). Such pageantry reflects the customs and traditions of village festivals as still practised in the Philippines and it is a living remnant of the legacy left behind by the Spanish regime that ruled the country for almost 4 hundred years. The list of Mutya and Lakambini crowned at the Barrio Fiesta included Virginia Mitchell in Mutya ng Barrio Fiesta in 1997; Edrianne Javier, Mutya ng Barrio Fiesta in 1998; Lezianne Viojan, Mutya ng Barrio Fiesta in 1999; Nemia Ravenwood, Lakambini and Annalee Boholst Mutya ng Barrio Fiesta in 2000; Joy Lyndale Craufurd, Lakambini ng Barrio Fiesta in 2001; and Nerissa Fenis, Mutya ng Barrio Fiesta in 2002.

The Barrio Fiesta has grown and gained a reputation as one of the five largest ethnic festivals in Darwin at the present time. The hugely successful Barrio Fiesta had attracted the largest crowd gathered at one single time at the Filipino Community Centre by far.

The Barrio Fiesta has been a catalyst for young Filipino Australians to develop their artistic talents in the performing arts. It has positively changed the self-image of young Filipino Australians about themselves. It helped them to developed their cultural identity and grow confident in recognising their heritage.

For 9 years now, the Barrio Fiesta has achieved its following objectives. It has been a great occasion for all Filipino Australians in Darwin and in Australia's Top End to

  • Display and share Filipinos' rich and diverse cultural heritage to the wider Darwin community.
  • Add festive colour to the ambient Darwin atmosphere through a kaleidoscope and fusion of unique Filipino artistic talents in Performing Arts.
  • Create an avenue for the discovery and promotion of talents from all ages in our Community.
  • Create an opportunity for the Filipino-Australians in the Top End to establish their own cultural identity through arts, crafts, education, sports and recreation in Darwin's multicultural society.
  • Create a meeting place for old acquaintances and to establish new friendship with other Filipinos in other regions.
  • Share with each other the common bond of friendship, goodwill and camaraderie.
  • Promote the Filipino spirit and sense of cooperation, harmony and unity.

Barrio Fiesta was recognised by the Darwin City Council in its celebration of Australia Day in 2002 as the "Best Community Event".