FAFI celebrates 10th anniversary on Sept 4th

Chairwoman Ludi Hughes with Tammy Murphy, First Lady of New Jersey at a FAFI event

Yes, we made it to our 10th year! In celebration of this milestone, the Annual Filipino American Festival will be held on Sunday, September 4, 2022 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the New Overpeck Bergen County Park located at 199 Challenger Road, Ridgefield Park in N.J.’s Bergen County.

With 10 years of uninterrupted service to the community, this non-profit organization takes pride in celebrating Filipino cultural heritage year after year.

“It’s been an enormous job,” said Ludi Hughes, chairwoman of FAFI. But it’s also a commitment to help that keeps her going.

She said FAFI has helped those affected by the pandemic, especially the seniors and the elderly, through COVID-19 Food Drives. It has also extended support to people in disastrous calamity situations through its Typhoon Disaster Funds. It has spearheaded a Stop Asian Hate March together with 30 Asian American organizations and gathered about 2,000 marchers.

A FAFI festival brings together business leaders, philanthropic leaders, community leaders and the young generation toward one common goal.

Said Hughes, “Our mission is to create greater community participation by bringing awareness on advocacy, education, preserving our culture, valuing the importance of heritage and making the community aware that we are part of mainstream America. It is especially important that the next generation Filipinos are very much part of this ongoing relationship.”

Board Members and Chairpersons: From left, Maria Ramirez, RN; Jessica Herb, RN; Ruben Serrano, Hilde Lezaron, Mert Lezaron, Abe Aquino, Rowena Aquino, RN; Cristy Gania, Patrick Hughes and Ludi Hughes

FAFI has hosted a Signature Fashion Show featuring handwoven fabrics made by the indigenous people of Central Mindanao. Socksargen USA has promoted homegrown artisans, one of them being Ador Feliciano, the talented designer of Jinkee Pacquiao, Manny Pacquiao’s lovely wife.

FAFI has a very unique festival and this is why.We made it a practice that our festival will be inclusive to everyone. We are open to anybody who can share with us talents that Filipinos can learn from and open to a mainstream”, said Jessica Herb, president of FAFI.

Last year’s Pinoy Broadway Ballyhoo was hosted by Scott Siegel. He is the creator/writer/director and host of the critically acclaimed Broadway by the Year Series at Town Hall.   

Another talent who has performed at FAFI is the Broadway pianist and musical director, Eugene Gwozdz. He is married to a Filipina. He   played the piano for the Broadway artists who have performed on its stage.

“We focused on cultural shows. Many Filipino groups as many as 30 performers in one performance deserved to be recognized. Many performers like the Filipino nurses, our frontliners also performed. It was a different setting for them as they struggled throughout the pandemic. We have a festival that everyone is longing for,” added Rowena Aquino, former president of FAFI and chair of FAFI’s Cultural Show.

FAFI is proud of the many dignitaries and elected officials who have graced its event: a U.S. senator, a member of Congress, the First Lady of New Jersey, Assembly members, county executives, among many. “There is so much respect for our organization,” said Hughes.

FAFI cannot continue without the support of its major sponsor like AT&T and Silver Sponsors, such as Hackensack Meridian Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ, URW Westfield Garden State Plaza, 1st 2nd Mortgage Company, and Bergen County. Food and Non-Food vendors have been participating year after year.

FAFI also recognizes the hard work of its Board Members: Rowena Aquino, Jessica Herb, Cristy Gania, Mert Lezaron, Madeline Bansil, Jose Planillo and Abe Aquino, Patrick Hughes, and the Committee Members for their selfless dedication as volunteers.

Social media is at the heart of FAFI’s visibility. You can visit the website: www.filipinoamericanfestival.com. It is also on Facebook and Instagram as ‘Filipino American Festival,’ on Twitter: @fafi810. It is also at the New Jersey State’s list of events – visitnj.com. See you all on September 4.

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