Decision 2008: FPAC or Pinoyfest?
This year we are forced to make a decision. No, not McCain or Obama. Not even Jabbawockeez or Super Cr3w. Southern Cali Pinoys get to choose between TWO Filipino festivals from on the weekend of September 6 and 7. Which one should you go to?
Here are the choices:
Festival #1: The Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC)
This is FPAC’s 17th year and it is, without question, the biggest Pinoy festival in Southern California. Everyone I know looks forward to going to FPAC to check out the performances or to buy some cool Pinoy schwag from the vendors. The festival has featured top notch performers such as Rex Navarrete, Bambu, and returning this year is musician Joe Bataan. FPAC always seems to find the balance between traditional offerings such as cultural music and dance, martial arts displays, and culinary demonstrations with the Filipino American modern culture such as hip hop dance crews, rock bands, eating contests, comedic performers, and the list goes on. It’s the festival that you can tell your non-Pinoy co-workers about and know that they would be impressed. And yes, there are a lot of hot single people that go too.
Just to give you an idea, FPAC is like the Super Bowl or Wrestlemania of Filipino festivals. It happens every year in early September and everyone goes to this thing.
Festival #2: Pinoyfest
This marks the first year for this festival. Based on the emails the organizers have sent out and the information on the Pinoyfest website, they are targeting people from the northern Los Angeles area since Pinoyfest takes place in the San Fernando Valley (Panorama City to be exact). The acts they are boasting this year are “Charmaine Clamor, Lara Avengoza, Sean Collado, the Maranao Dance Ensemble and surprise appearances by our Filipino news anchors and other friends in the entertainment business.” Ok, I have no idea who any of those folks are but I guess they are a draw to someone right? Maybe?
Even though Pinoyfest has a slightly cheaper admission fee, the location is a bit of a challenge since they chose to have it in the Valley. For those that are unfamiliar with Southern California, the Valley is known for being HOT! It is always ten degrees hotter in the Valley during the summer and fall than it is in Downtown L.A.
I’m just gonna cut to the chase here and say flat out that the festival to go to is FPAC. Even if you live walking distance to Pinoyfest, it’s worth the hour drive to San Pedro to be at FPAC. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be the better festival. I’ll put it this way, would you rather drive a bit farther to a park that overlooks the ocean and has a nice cool breeze or would you rather go to a beat up park field in the hot ass valley where your only view is watching old Pinoys play tennis and basketball?
It’s no secret that a lot of my friends are involved with the planning of FPAC so yes, you can call me biased. But the real troubling issue I see is the fact that there are two Filipino festivals going on at the same time with a very similar structure that targets the same group of people.
Since it’s already out there, let’s talk about this bullshit and call things as they are.
Pinoyfest is the swap meet knock off version of FPAC. You don’t believe me when I call it a knock off? Ok, go to the Pinoyfest website and once you get past the homage to webdesign of the mid 1990s, go to the Calendar tab and take a look at the festival schedule.
In fact, here, I’ll make it easier for you. Click on this.
Notice the naming convention of the Pinoyfest stages. They have a Main Stage and a Youth Pavilion, which are the names FPAC uses for two of their festival areas. If Pinoyfest really wanted to be different and set itself apart from FPAC, they could have started by not calling something a Youth Pavilion. Maybe a Youth Area or Kids Corner or even Children’s Tent but no, they straight went with calling it the same thing FPAC calls their youth programming section.
And on another note, usually when you call something a Main Stage, it’s because there’s another stage to differentiate it from. There’s only one stage at Pinoyfest so technically it is the Main Stage but did the festival organizers really need to call it that? Oh wait, that’s what FPAC calls their stage.
I need to keep harping on that glorious Pinoyfest website. What the hell did the webdesigner use to make that site? Dreamweaver version -0.5? If that’s the kind of aesthetic that is presented for one of their main marketing tools then I’m scared shitless of what I’m going to see if I go to the actual event! And what is the deal with the photo of the chick in a bikini on the damn ABOUT page? (Click here you pervs, it’s no big deal)
Note to the Pinoyfest webmaster: YOU SPELLED FILIPINO WRONG ON THE PINOYFEST INFO PAGE!
Speaking of the Pinoyfest Info page, here’s a line from that page:
“PinoyFest will be held annually around the June-July timeframe; however, for its
debut weekend this year, it is being held on Saturday and Sunday, September 6
and 7, 2008…”
Beyond the whole naming convention or web design aesthetic, the biggest question I have for the Pinoyfest organizers is…
WHY THE HELL DID YOU CHOOSE TO HAVE YOUR DEBUT EVENT THE SAME WEEKEND AS FPAC?!?!?!
Here’s an opportunity to establish a new Filipino festival for people to go to and even though the plan is to have the festival regularly in June or July, the Pinoyfest planners decide to have the inaugural event in September against the most attended Filipino festival each year.
Yeah, that makes total sense.
And I’ve heard the bullshit answer of “That was the only weekend that was available.” Ok, if that was the case then fuckin’ don’t do it and wait until June or July of the next year. If you want to maximize the results of your effort in planning and organizing a new, start-up festival, it makes no business sense to counter program against another festival that is very well established and targets a lot of the same demographic. Not only does it decrease the potential attendance (i.e. people that spend money), having two festivals during the same weekend splits up the artist talent pool and decreases the amount of exposure the performers at BOTH festivals could get.
Along with splitting the artist talent pool, it also limits the booth offerings at BOTH festivals as business owners that want to purchase a booth to sell their goods would not be able to afford buying a vendor booth at both FPAC and Pinoyfest or even have the capability to staff different booths at simultaneous events.
Putting on two Pinoy festivals on the same weekend in the same general vicinity is like the Hollywood Foreign Press Association putting on the Golden Globe Awards on the same night as the Academy Awards. It just doesn’t make sense.
On top of all that, Pinoyfest counter-programs an event that is put on by Fil-Am Arts, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to nurturing Filipino arts. What breed of asshole does that?
I needed to know who the hell was behind this so I checked on some of the names on the Contact Us page of the Pinoyfest website.
Let’s start with Benjie Bautista. I don’t know who he is and I’ve never heard of him but his contact email address has the web domain of a marketing and distribution company called ACI International. I checked the ACI International website and it’s very nice. It has a slick flash design and a very professional aesthetic. If Benjie works for this company, he should know a thing or two about marketing and image but apparently he’s not sharing any of that information with the Pinoyfest webmaster.
Next on the Contact Us list is Noel Omega. I don’t know him either but I do take a daily fish oil supplement which has the Omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial to one’s health and my neighbor had the Transformer toy of Omega Supreme when we were kids. (Sorry, it’s weak but that’s all I was able to come up with)
Another name I saw on the Pinoyfest contact page was Ted Benito. Dammit, I like Ted. He’s a good guy and has always been cool to me. But it looks really, really bad when a guy that was helping out with FPAC for the past few years is now part of another festival that is going on at the same time as FPAC. I’m sure he has his reasons, it just looks bad.
And now on to the meat and potatoes of the contact list.
Lo and behold, I see the name of Mutch Carino. RED FLAG!
Mutch probably doesn’t remember me but I sure do remember him. He was one of the guys that was part of a group called Primedia that put together some Filipino festivals back in the mid 1990s. There were two I can clearly remember. One was called Fiesta Filipiniana that was held in Knott’s Berry Farm that featured Kuh Ledesma. The follow up event to that was a Christmas festival at Universal Studios. I was a volunteer at both festivals and remember that there were disputes about artists and staffers not getting paid. I also remember that the actual execution of the Universal Studios event was a complete and utter clusterfuck which resulted in a group of volunteers walking out after the first day.
By all means, you can go to Pinoyfest and pay the entrance fee or purchase sponsorship and feel free to give this dude your cash. I just hope he pays the performers and the staffers that help him.
Pinoyfest boasts that their festival is a weekend full of “fun and harmonious community building” but the festival planners’ actions contradict this sentiment. It is upsetting to see a group whose main purpose is to make money do so under the guise of “harmonious community building.” If these folks really believed in community building, they wouldn’t have counter programmed FPAC. They wouldn’t have done something that works against a non-profit organization that is trying to do the exact thing they claim to be doing.
They can spin this any way they want. They can say that we have such a diverse community that is big enough to have two festivals. They can say it was the only day available. They can say that Pinoyfest is geared towards the first generation Filipinos while FPAC is geared towards Filipino Americans.
I’m not buying any of it and from the sounds of it, neither are a lot of other people. What it seems like is one Pinoy group trying to upstage another Pinoy group. So in a sense, the Pinoyfest planners did achieve one thing that their website says. They are celebrating our diversity. They are showing the diversity of our community’s egos, pettiness and stupidity.
I’ll see you at FPAC in September.