Vancouver Lapu-Lapu block party celebrates Filipino history and culture

A Filipino cultural celebration spanning several city blocks is coming to Vancouver this weekend.

The Lapu-Lapu Day Block Party is set for this Saturday across the back parking lots along Fraser Street.

Festivities will begin with an 11 a.m. basketball tournament at John Oliver Secondary School on the corner of Fraser Street and East 41st Avenue. The party will extend south from John Oliver Secondary to 47th Avenue. Organizers expect the streets to be filled.

The block party’s creative director, Joe Tuliao, said attendees can expect music, dance performances, merch, and Filipino food stalls all day Saturday.

“Anything that a Filipino can do,” said Tuliao, “we’re all doing that.”

Pampanga Cuisine is a Filipino fast food chain with a location on Fraser Street. Pampanga’s J Malang says his restaurant will offer a special selection of cultural cuisine for the occaision.

“We have the kikiam, fish ball, kwek kwek. There’s also barbecue pork, barbecue chicken, and then Filipino style hotdogs,” said Malang.

The block party will be the first of its kind, one year after April 27 was officially declared Lapu-Lapu Day in B.C.

Rhea Santos, a Filipino reporter with OMNI News, will host the festival. She says the day holds special importance.

“What’s happening on Saturday, it’s not only a celebration, it’s really looking back at the history and finding value in the legacy that Lapu-Lapu left us,” said Santos.

The festival will honour its namesake, Filipino hero Lapu-Lapu, who led the Philippines in resistance against Spanish colonizers in the 1500s.

Mable Elmore, the MLA for Vancouver-Kensington, agrees with Santos and was happy to show support for the block party taking place in her riding.

“I really wanted to convey —especially to young people in the Filipino community— the connection to our history and something to be proud of,” said Elmore. “People maybe don’t know about Lapu-Lapu and that he was a national hero. So I thought it was a great symbol.”

Tuliao said, more than anything, he’s excited for the first event in his life that celebrates and “encompasses all different generations” of Filipinos in Vancouver.