Filipino Music Festival in Mitcham
By Dominic Browne
The first ever Mitcham Filipino Summer Festival took place on Sunday at Three Kings Piece, and featured David Pomeranz, one the highest selling musical artists in Filipino history.
Mr Pomeranz, from New York, has sold over 40 million records world-wide. His 1999 release ‘Born For You’ holds the record for the largest selling album in the Philippines.
Members of the Mitcham Filipino community also performed martial arts demonstrations, rock and hip-hop Filipino fusion music and traditional Filipino dances.
Mr Pomeranz said: “It was wonderful to play here. I loved it.
“I love coming to England. I used to live here in the 90s when I worked with Cliff Richard and I will be staying awhile as I have a musical coming up in the West End, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.”
He played an hour long set for an estimated 2000 people including Cecilia Santos, a cultural attaché from the Philippine Embassy and Labour M.P. for Mitcham and Morden, Siobhain McDonagh.
Ms McDonagh MP said: “It is an honour to be here at this excellent and well organised event.
“I am not surprised it is so well organised as I know the formidable women on the Mitcham Filipino-British Association and I know they are probably the best community organisers we have.”
The festival was organised by the Mitcham Filipino-British Association with support from the Thames Community Foundation and sponsorship from Century Properties, it also received a £5000 grant from Grassroots Grants.
Association Chairman Ronald Dalida says he hopes the festival will become an annual event.
Mr Dalida said: “I feel so proud to see what we have achieved. We have had a lot of support, without it we might not have been able to put this on. But it has been a great success.”
Andrea Colquhoun, Association Vice President for External Affairs, admitted that they were worried about government spending cuts.
She said: “ We are worried that we may not be able to get another grant next year but we are still always optimistic.”
Mrs Santos says the Philippine Embassy share this optimism for the future of the British-Filipino community and the association’s festival will always have their support.
“We are very proud of what they have done here. It is a great cultural showcase for the community,” said Mrs Santos.
“People from the Philippines have a good record of integration all around the world, in the U.S., Australia and Canada you can also find these Filipino festivals.
“No matter what difficulties or government conflicts are happening we will always struggle to express ourselves and our culture.”
Ms McDonagh MP said: “There will always be organisations that can help with events like this but the trouble is finding them. If this isn’t the big society I don’t know what is.”
The festival origins go back to Philippine summer festivals known as Barrio Fiestas. They take place on a community level with neighbours taking food, drink and instruments to each others houses for fiestas.
It is estimated around 250,000 Filipino’s live in the UK. For more information on upcoming Mitcham Filipino-British Association visit www.mitchampinoy.com.