Charity fundraising, blending of Eastern and Western culture took place at second annual Filipino Festival in Long Beach


Kristen Naeem | Signal Tribune

Musician Gingee performs on kulintang gongs during her performance at the second annual Filipino Festival at Richard D. Browning Highschool in Long Beach on Sunday, Dec. 15.

The local Filipino community celebrated their culture while raising funds to benefit the greater Long Beach community at the second annual Filipino Festival on Sunday, Dec. 15.

The event took place at Richard D. Browning High School, with vendor booths, a stage and Christmas decorations, such as a giant inflatable snowman, set up on the school’s grounds.

Miss Long Beach 2020, Rae Jillian Rivera, a first generation Filipina American, used the opportunity to raise funds for two causes close to her heart, Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach and Operation Santa Paws, which rescues abused, abandoned and lost animals.

“I was born in Miller Children’s Hospital 23 years ago,” Rivera told the Signal Tribune, “I actually underwent surgery there, and I have a surgical scar across my chest. So, thanks to the team there, I’m living a healthy life.”

Rivera was crowned Miss Long Beach 2020 the week of Thanksgiving and has been using her position to give back to the community she grew up in and act as an example of what Filipina Americans can accomplish.

“Something that inspires me to give back is the Long Beach community. I was born and raised here, my grandparents immigrated here,” Rivera said. “Something that I want to send as a message to them is that a woman in [the] STEM [field], a woman of color, a woman that’s Southeast Asian, can do all these amazing things and give back to the community, and show her knowledge and engineering in pageantry. Knowledge is beautiful.”

Besides being a pageant winner, Rivera works as a software developer for the Walt Disney Company, and provided Disneyland passes, among other prizes, during the Filipino Festival’s raffle out of her own pocket in order to raise money for both charities.

The Filipina American musician Gingee gave a performance in the evening that blended both traditional Filipino music with modern sounds.

“I blend traditional sounds and instruments from the Philippines and other music cultures with beats inspired by contemporary genres such as global bass, hip hop, electronic dance music (EDM), moombahton, zouk bass, trap, Baltimore club (Bmore club) and baile funk,” Gingee wrote to the Signal Tribune through a social-media message. “Its a meeting place between organic and digital sounds, traditional and contemporary, and various cultures, reflecting my identity as a Filipino American who grew up in Los Angeles amongst various musical subcultures.”

Gingee sang throughout her performance onstage while switching between multiple Eastern and Western instruments. While her use of a snare drum and launchpad controller in songs is typical of American music, her uptempo electronic beats were interspersed with her renditions on traditional instruments including kulintang gongs, the kubing mouth harp, nagara drum and more.

“Playing the kulintang was a choice not only because of its sonic appeal but also [because] to me it symbolizes pre-colonial music traditions,” Gingee said.

Kulintang are small gongs, used in traditional Filipino music, that are laid in a row and produce different tones when struck.

The Filipino Festival also included a performance by magician Dremagix and traditional Filipino martial artists from the Pamana Kali school in Torrance, and had around 40 vendors present at the event, including the apparel company Stussy.

Among the food vendors was Taste of the Pacific, who provided Filipino barbecue and lumpia, made of thin crepe-like pastry wrapped around meat fillings, to attendees.

While Taste of the Pacific does not have a fixed business location, it can be found at events such as the Monday Night Market in Long Beach, and announces its future locations on its Instagram page.