Article by Cheryl Tui for Forbes.com
Photgraphy by Craig Nisperos
Philippines Fest, the first Filipino Street Food Fair originating in New York City— with satellite locations in Virginia, Atlanta and Los Angeles— is running monthly until October 2023. It was founded by a collective of Filipino-American small business owners led by VJ Navarro (So Sarap NYC), Augelyn Francisco (Kabisera) and Paulo Manaid (Hatzumomo) who are passionate about promoting Filipino culture and supporting the community.
“We established Philippines Fest with one main goal, that is to represent our heritage,” Navarro shares. “Filipinos are known to be hard workers with so much talent, passion and heart. Each of our vendors curate their own products and showcase their unique twists while still preserving the roots of our culture. So many of them are so well known nationwide— worldwide even. Balita [news] travels all the way back to the motherland.”
Some of these vendors include New York-based lechonera, Patok by Rach; Oohlam, which serves homestyle Filipino dishes; Japayuki, the new Filipino-Japanese concept by Kabisera restaurant; So Sarap NYC, which specializes in Filipino street food; and Washington DC-based Sari Kusina by chef-partner Paolo Dungca, which was recently named by Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema as one of his favorite places to eat right now.
Pastry chef and chocolatier Daniel Corpuz, who competed on Netflix’s “School of Chocolate,” will be selling his popular bonbons and ube donuts; and Salamat Cookies, their Filipino flavors-inspired baked goods. Logan and Co., owned by the festival’s youngest vendors, five-year-old Logan and three-year-old Jaxxon, will ensure guests are kept hydrated with their calamansi juice.
Clothing and accessories are also available like Hatzumomo, known for their usage of handwoven fabrics and indigenous textiles in clothing; and Shop Fleurenz, known for their hypoallergenic, tarnish-free and affordable 14k gold jewelry pieces.
“All of us working together has built a sense of family and togetherness,” shares Navarro. “We’ve made such a connection and kept a strong relationship throughout the years. This is what kept us going. We all look after one another, as we expand and succeed from one festival to another.”
The first Philippines Fest took place last April 15 at 6th Avenue in Manhattan. Dates for the succeeding Philippines Fest are as follows:May 21- Park Slope, Brooklyn, New YorkJune 10- Ube Festival, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New YorkJune 18 - Philippine Independence Day, Manhattan, New YorkJuly 9- Times Square, Manhattan, New YorkJuly 22 and 23- VirginiaAugust 12 and 13- Atlanta, GeorgiaSeptember 9- Upper East Side, Manhattan, New YorkOctober 7- East Village, Manhattan, New YorkOctober 28- Los Angeles, California