The very first Festival of Philippine Arts & Culture (FPAC) happened at Los Angeles City College on Mother’s Day, May 14, 1992, only 10 days after the Los Angeles Riots. Organized by about 100 artists and community leaders, the event attracted 3,000 participants and helped to heal a traumatized city. Since then, FPAC has grown to become the largest presenter of Philippine arts and culture in Southern California, with more than 1200 artists in 9 disciplines and attracting crowds of over 25,000 people from around the U.S.
For most of the festival’s 23 years, San Pedro has been FPAC’s home. This year, however, the event comes to downtown L.A.’s Grand Park. The celebration of Filipino arts and culture has also taken a serious food lover’s turn. So much so, in fact, that along with the requisite food booths, FPAC has set up a Culinary Arts Pavilion (CAP).
At the CAP, you can learn the basics of wrapping turón, a deep fried banana roll. There’s also a silog workshop that promises to open your eyes to the wonderful world of fried rice, fried egg, and the endless array of salty and savory protein toppings like longganisa, adobo, tocino, bacon, and SPAM.
But for the most stout of heart, mind, and, clearly, stomach, there is the balut eating seminar. That’s right, it’s a crash course on how-to-eat balut, the famous (or infamous) Filipino boiled duck egg with a bonus fetal treat. I, for one, have had my challenges with balut, but have since overcome them (dashes of salt, pepper, and hot sauce do the trick).
And as the Earth circles the Sun, naturally, a balut seminar leads to a balut eating competition—no festival is complete without an eating contest, right? I’ve officiated and participated in many an eating competition, this balut binger is by far the most riveting.
It’s not just about gluttony. There also will be a vegetable competition as well as a lecture on “Healthifying Filipino Food.” That’s what I call a well-rounded event—almost as round as your face stuffed with balut.
The 23rd Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) is a free, family-friendly event held on October 4-5, 2014 at Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles.