From the Streets to the Screens, Foreigners and Homesick Pinoys go “Hala Bira” in Online Fiesta

“Hala Bira! Pit Señor!” Participants at the Fiesta Filipinas: An Online Celebration of Philippine Festivals practiced the chant of the Sinulog, Dinagyang, and Ati-Atihan Festivals at the online event last 20 February 2021. I DFA Photo

Overseas Filipinos enjoyed a virtual homecoming last 20 February 2021 as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) brought the experience of joy in Philippine festivals straight to their homes through the online event, “Fiesta Filipinas: An Online Celebration of Philippine Festivals.”

Fiesta Filipinas, the first-ever online Fiesta celebration since the CoViD-19 pandemic began, featured the prominent festivals of Sinulog of Cebu, Dinagyang of Iloilo, and Ati-Atihan of Aklan. The program’s multi-sensory platform provided the participants from all over the world a chance to virtually engage in the Fiesta activities.

The program featured a virtual tour of Cebu where Fiesta Filipinas “local wanderer” Chal Lontoc-Del Rosario showcased the must-visit sites, must-eat delicacies, and the must-see Sinulog performance of the “Queen City of the South.”

Co-host Paolo Abrera together with Ms. Mary Quevedo of CraftMNL, engaged the bisitas (guests) in making the festival headdresses. The Fiesta kits, provided in advance by the organizers, were unboxed during the online program and gave the participants a taste of several Philippine delicacies such as piaya, biscocho, and dried mangoes.

To complete the multi-sensory experience, the participants were virtually ushered into an immersive auditory segment bringing the Dinagyang Festival to life through sound.

Mimi (left) and Jenni (right), together with over 150 zoom participants from all over the world, showed their great appreciation for the event. I DFA Photo

Mimi, a Filipino based in the United Kingdom said that she particularly enjoyed the auditory segment as it reminded her of her father who is from Iloilo. “This is a very good experience for people (who are) missing home. I think this is very Filipino. Very resilient, very innovative, and very adaptive to whatever’s happening. For people who can’t go home yet, and (to those) who haven’t experienced everything that the Philippines has to offer, this is a very good campaign,” she added.

Overseas Filipinos were not the only ones who joined in the fun. Other nationalities from all over the world, including foreigners who wish to visit the Philippines but are unable to do so, tuned in as well. They learned of the online celebration through the 94 Foreign Service Posts of the Department to which the project was rolled out.

Jenni, a participant from Vietnam said, “I’ve been to a lot of Philippine festivals but this is the first time that I’ve been to an online celebration like this. I’m really excited. The virtual tour, the audio experience, and even the package, it’s really a great experience for me. I definitely will share it with my friends here in Vietnam.”

Participants to the Fiesta Filipinas events receive the kit which contains items that they may use for the interactive online event. The kit for the Sinulog, Dinagyang, and Ati-Atihan event included Philippine delicacies such as biscocho, piaya, dried mango, malunggay iced tea as well as the headdress making kit and a souvenir item. The kits are given to the participants for free. Interested participants may contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Philippine Consulate General to inquire how to join. I DFA Photo

The monthly online event, which was organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), is ongoing until May 2021 and is broadcast live on the official Facebook page ( and YouTube channel ( of the DFA. The next Fiesta Filipinas event, featuring the Panagbenga festival of Baguio will be broadcast on 27 February 2021, 2:00 p.m. (PH Time). Interested participants overseas may contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Philippine Consulate General in their area for more details.

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