The Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus is home to one of the largest gatherings of Filipinos on the east coast, the Philippine Fiesta in America, taking place Aug. 20 and 21. The event draws over 20,000 attendees from across the country for two days of cultural events, family attractions, food, and a business trade show.
In its 13th year, this family-friendly event celebrates Filipino cultural heritage and diversity.
“We’d like people to see our culture so that we can showcase what beautiful things we have as Filipinos and as a country.”– Mila Mendez
Bringing together family and friends
What arose out of feelings of homesickness for the Philippines for husband and wife organizing duo Milagros and Fernando Mendez has evolved into an extravaganza that plays host to 120-135 businesses, more than half from the Philippines.
“We put this together just as a simple gathering in 1996,” said Mendez. “My husband just wanted an event that gathered most Filipinos in one place. But then again, I thought, if we have these people we might as well do other things, have booths, crafts, and see what happens.”
The Philippines is a Southeast Asian country located in the Pacific Ocean. An archipelago, it is comprised of 7,101 islands occupied by close to a 100 million people, making it the 12th largest country in the world.
According to the last U.S. Census, approximately 3.1 million Filipinos reside in the U.S. The event organizers, however, believe 4 million Filipinos reside in the U.S., with one-third concentrated in the Northeast, a draw for hosting the Fiesta in the tri-state area.
A home away from home in Hudson County
The Meadowlands Expo Center has been the site of the Philippine Fiesta since 2001.
“In Secaucus, in Jersey City there is a high concentration of Filipinos,” said Mendez. “We looked for a place where everyone can go comfortably…where parking is not an issue. Luckily, NJ Transit stops in front of the Expo Center.”
Mendez said she sought a reasonably-priced, easily-accessible location when she moved the event from New York to New Jersey. The event has grown significantly from the first year, when it was held at the Jacob Javitz Center and drew 6,000 people.
Featuring businesses from the Philippines
This year, as a result of the booming spa industry in the Philippines, the event will feature a new spa pavilion dedicated to showcasing businesses that cater to health conscious consumers. The new food court will feature cuisine from the three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
A children’s pavilion, open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. will be staffed by the Association of Filipino Teachers of America. Parents can drop their kids off to go look at the booths throughout the expo.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Saturday at noon with the Ambassador to the Philippines and other invited NJ Senators and government officials.
General admission is $25 at the door both days $30 after 5 p.m., $20 in advance online or at Filipino restaurants and stores. $60 VIP admission reserves a seat in the cultural area. Coupons are available in the newsletter. Parking is free. Visit www.philippinefiesta.com for more information, call 212-682-6610, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.