Filipino festival still fostering ‘friends for life’ after 7 years

Children perform during last year’s Filipino Festival at Our Lady of Lourdes church.

Tom Schaaf and Maria Sinsioco come from two very different backgrounds. Schaaf once worked in close coordination with the White House, as a part of the Office of Management and Budget. Sinsioco once worked as a medical physician and lived in the Philippines. By 1996, Schaaf was working as a director for Capital One. Sinsioco was settling into her new life in the U.S.

On Aug. 10 and 11, the two will have but one simple label: volunteer. They will be working for the sole purpose of benefitting the seventh annual Filipino Festival at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Woodman Road.

“It’s a huge effort,” Schaaf said. “You could never do this if you were paying everyone. It takes so much from our volunteers.”

The festival will feature authentic Filipino cuisine, including pansit, lumpia and adobo and live performances from the likes of Keith Horne, Janet Martin and Cedar Creek. Also, native Filipino dances will be performed by children in a local Pilipino language class.

Sinsioco and Ernesto Mina started the class, independently of the festival, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in 2005. Sinsioco had previously held culture workshops in the Richmond area and when introduced to Mina, another teacher of Filipino culture, the idea sprouted to create a class.

“Two of my children were born here, and they are the wind beneath my wings,” Sinsioco said. “I wanted them to be able to connect with the past so that they really would understand who they are as Filipino-Americans. They’ve always participated in the class.”

The class is taught from October to June and is open to all Filipino-American youth and interested adults. It is free and completely volunteer-based. The students learn about language, art and history of the Philippines.

“The church was very supportive when we first got started,” Sinsioco said. “They gave us a free room for the program which we have all year around. We do most of the dances and performances to help the church, and proceeds go to youth programs.”

As Sinsioco’s class was starting up in a back room of Our Lady of Lourdes, Tom Schaaf was sitting on the church finance committee, thinking of ideas about how to better serve the local community.

“We started to look at things more so in a social perspective than a financial perspective,” Schaaf said. “I got to know everyone in the community through that and met a lot of our church’s Filipino contingent.”

Finally, the committee came up with the idea to run a Filipino festival. The idea was approved by the pastor and the inaugural festival was held that year.

“It was extremely successful in our first year,” Schaaf said. “It was a perfect day. We proved we could do this and we were like ‘Gee, let’s just do this every year.’”

It wasn’t long until the two programs came in contact with one another and decided to fuse interests for the good of the community.

“We just decided that we should combine forces,” Sinsioco said. “We learned about their plan and they learned about ours, and we all just decided to help out for the good of the kids.”

The class was a main cause for the influx in volunteer support for the festival, including Sue Berinato, now manager of the festival promotions team.

“I got involved because my kids were dancers in Maria’s class,” Berinato said. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is a perfect opportunity for the kids to learn about our heritage. I need to help out.’”

Berinato is now one of 600 volunteers, who like Schaaf and Sinsioco come from an array of diverse backgrounds. Some are from the church and some come from other factions. Some are Filipino and some are of other heritages.

“It all starts because the kids [in the class] come from different backgrounds,” Sinsioco said. “Whether we’re black or Hispanic or whatever, it’s important to send the message that we’re all the same. We put on a dance called the Pinoy Ako at the festival. The message is that no matter what, we all should still be proud of who we are.”

Festival representatives expect this to be their biggest year for attendance, even though it competes against other festivals in the Richmond area.

“We’ve always had this competition,” Schaaf said. “The Richmond people really just love their festivals. I’m going to bet that people will really enjoy ours, plus we cost infinitely less.”

The festival begins at 5 p.m. on Friday and continues until 10 p.m. It will then continue from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free but donations are accepted. More information about the weekend can be found on the festival website, http://www.filipinofestival.org.

“Where else can you say, ‘Hey, come here and learn about this culture,’” Berinato said. “We’re going to teach you a bit and put on a show for you. That’s the beauty of this. Everybody’s welcome.”

“The Filipino people want the visitors to feel welcome,” Sinsioco said. “We want you to feel like you belong. When you are a friend, you are a friend for life.”

If you go
What: The Filipino Festival
Where: Our Lady of Lourdes, 8200 Woodman Road
When: Aug. 10 (5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) and Aug. 11 (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
Admission: Free; donations accepted
Details: The event will include authentic cuisine, live music and dancing, exhibits, health screenings, children’s games, crafts, jewelry, clothing and more. For information, call 262-7315 or visit http://www.filipinofestival.org.
Bail Bonds Chesterfield VA

Varina meeting May 2 to address opioid crisis in Henrico


Varina District Supervisor Tyrone E. Nelson will hold a Community Conversations meeting Tuesday, May 2 to discuss the opioid epidemic in Henrico County.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Henrico Theatre, 305 E. Nine Mile Road. Nelson will be joined by County Manager John A. Vithoulkas and members of the Henrico Heroin Task Force for a discussion of heroin and opioid abuse and ways to prevent it. > Read more.

Baker ES to remain closed until fall


Baker Elementary School students will complete the 2016-17 school year at other locations and will return to a restored building in fall 2017, school leaders have decided.

The decision was made in order to provide ample time for repairs to be completed at the fire-damaged school and to avoid additional interruptions to instructional time. > Read more.

Henrico Police arrest 2 Georgia men in connection with January murder


Henrico Police have arrested and charged two Georgia men with first-degree murder in connection with the Jan. 18 murder of 36-year-old Lamont Cornelius Baldwin in the 1200 block of Dominion Townes Terrace.

Antonio Tyrone Johnson (above, left) and Santonio Rodrigus Brown (above, right), both 24 and both of Atlanta, were charged. Johnson also was charged with use of a firearm in commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a felon. > Read more.

Man struck and killed in western Henrico hit-and-run

A 24-year-old man died after being struck by a hit-and-run driver in western Henrico April 23.

The victim, Emmanuel Isaiah DeJesus, was found lying on the side of the roadway at about 10:25 p.m., April 23 near Patterson Avenue and Palace Way. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. > Read more.

Henrico woman earns national pharmacy fellowship


Henrico County native Nilofar “Nellie” Jafari recently was named the American College of Clinical Pharmacy-American Society of Health-System Pharmacists-Virginia Commonwealth University Congressional Healthcare Policy Fellow for 2017-18.

Jafari is a 2007 graduate of J.R. Tucker High School.

Pharmacists selected for the fellowship have the opportunity to gain real-world insight into health care policy analysis and development via immersion in the congressional environment. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

April 2017
S M T W T F S
·
·
·
·
·
·
17
·
·
·
·
·
·

Calendar page

Classifieds

Place an Ad | More Classifieds

Calendar

The Brain Injury Association of Virginia will host RVA Field Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Richmond Volleyball Club. RVA Field Day consists of competitive, traditional Field Day games, and teams of four will fundraise to participate in a series of games requiring dexterity, memory, and skill. For spectators, there will be music, food and beverages, arts and crafts and more. Bicycle helmets will be given away to the first 50 children who stop by the sponsors table. Registration starts at 9 a.m. Proceeds from the event will benefit Camp Bruce McCoy, BIAV's summer camp for adults with brain injury and one of the organization's longest running programs. For details, visit http://www.rvafieldday2017.causevox.com. Full text

Your weather just got better.

Henricopedia

Henrico's Top Teachers

The Plate