Third Malunggay festival blooms in Hawaii Plantation Village
WAIPAHU, Hawaii – Anyone who stepped into the Hawaii Plantation Village on Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. for the malunggay festival could instantly feel the sense of community.
The Filipino community here in Waipahu held its third annual Great Malunggay Festival and Parade to honor the health-giving plant Moringa Oleifera. So, of course, there was chicken-malunggay soup for sale, as well as malunggay quiche.
“Granted it is Earth Day and there are other things going on around the island, but Waipahu still remains the same. We still want to come together and help each other out,” Sandy Magsino says.
“So, bringing that alive to the community, giving them a free event because of all the stresses that they deal with on a daily basis, I think it is important that we take care of each other,” adds Magsino, assistant director of the Little Miss Malunggay competition that took place during the festival. Little Miss Arathea Policarpio won the title.
She explains that the Malunggay Festival began with aim of “promoting the farmers and business owners who like to do organic farming and things of that nature. That is where our family comes from; that is where our ancestry stems from.”
Many Filipinos came to Hawaii and the United States as sakada in hopes of attaining a better life for themselves and their family. In Hawaii, many worked in the sugar mill and pineapple plantation before they closed down. Now, many Filipinos have turned to farming the malunggay as their last link to local agriculture.
“It is now up and coming, being used for all kinds of health benefits. The malunggay is induced with many vitamins, A, B, C, K, protein and magnesium. This whole event is to promote that,” explains Magsino.
The Malunggay Festival features a variety of entertainment, including performances of Filipino dance troupe Linglingay. There is also the Little Miss Malunggay competition, which is Magsino and the St. Joseph ministry’s way of encouraging future generations to keep traditions and protect the environment.
Instructor Alberto Pita of Lantayao’s School of Martial Arts shares the aim of spreading Filipino culture to the community and younger generations.
Pita specializes in Filipino martial arts, specifically kali, which derives from many different types of martial arts in the Philippines. He teaches classes at St. Joseph Church on Tuesdays in the evenings and Saturdays in the morning and has become a part of Lantayao’s School of Martial Arts since 2000.
“I am first generation Filipino local born. A lot of times we as locals forget about our heritage and where we can from so it is good to go back and revisit where our heritage came from and celebrate it,” he says.
Pita hopes that kali grows to a point that everyone can enjoy it. “I want give everyone an opportunity to pursue it as many Filipino martial arts are kept secret or hidden, behind closed doors. I want to expose it because I believe it is for everyone to share and celebrate.”
Martin Paul Osorio of Katipunan Club attended the event in hopes of bringing exposure to their club, which is based in the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He hopes to give Katipunan Club a bigger presence in the Filipino community.
“I was born in the Philippines and moved to Hawaii when I was about three years old. I had a sense of wanting to know about my culture. It was missing in my life, and I wanted to experience what they were experiencing. I wanted to be proud of my culture.”
The Malunggay Festival’s creator, Al Simbahon, says the event all came from a simple dream of bringing the Filipino community together. Holding its third version at the Hawaii Plantation Village symbolizes the history many people of different cultures shared when they came together to start their new life in Hawaii.
The next step for future Malunggay Festivals, Magsino says, is to integrate other cultures represented in the history of the Hawaii Plantation Village “to truly encompass the togetherness within the overall community feeling that Hawaii has to offer.”