The best of Philippine culture will be showcased in Yokohama during the Philippine Festival Barrio Fiesta, which is free and open to all and will be held Sept. 1 and 2 at Yamashita Park.

With a rich and enduring Spanish heritage, many towns or areas in the Philippines are referred to as barrios, which means a district or suburb of a city.

As a predominantly Catholic country, many Philippine barrios hold fiestas in honor of each town’s patron saint. During a barrio fiesta, the fun-loving and hospitable nature of Filipinos is on full display as relatives, friends and guests are warmly welcomed into every home, with tables laden with special cuisine.

Also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a bountiful catch or harvest, protection from calamities, maintenance of good health, among a multitude of reasons, fiestas are a time for renewing and strengthening the bonds of a community.

The Barrio Fiesta 2012 introduces Philippine culture, which is infused with indigenous, pre-Hispanic and Catholic traditions, featuring cuisine and products as well as arts and entertainment, with performances by local Filipino acts and famous artists from the Philippines. There will be a cultural parade of traditional barrio fiesta dances and processions, such as the “Higantes” (giants), performers on stilts wearing papier-mache Philippine costumes, and the colorful “Santacruzan,” the traditional procession held in honor of St. Helen’s search for the Holy Cross.

The Philippine capital Manila and Yokohama have had a sister-city relationship since 1965. As an important port of Japan, Yokohama has deep historical ties with three national heroes of the Philippines: Dr. Jose Rizal, Mariano Ponce and Gen. Artemio Ricarte.

The Filipino Community in Japan, with the cosponsorship of the city of Yokohama and the support of the Philippine Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, is organizing the festival.

The Barrio Fiesta 2012 takes place Sept. 1 from 11 a.m. to 6?p.m. and Sept. 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Yamashita Park in Yokohama. Entrance to the festival is free. For more details, visit www.philbarriofiesta2012.weebly.com.

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