LONDON -- The organizers of the Barrio Fiesta sa London have struck a 5-year contract with ABS-CBN's The Filipino Channel (TFC).
The Philippine Centre (PC), a non-for-profit organization, sealed the deal during an official signing in a hotel near Heathrow Airport on November 24.
Present were several PC board members and staff from the London office of ABS-CBN Europe.
The agreement, formalized by Philippine Centre Vice-Chair Joseph Pariñas and Edgardo Garcia, Managing Director of ABS-CBN Europe and Middle East, states TFC will manage the Barrio Fiesta and give PC an annual donation for their charitable works.
“We are all volunteers in the charity working for the Philippine Centre and it's important we have the support, especially financial support of ABS-CBN so we can move forward with our various projects, not only the Barrio Fiesta," Pariñas said.
"We want to continue to bring the tradition to the Filipino community in the United Kingdom. As you see, people all over Europe and the States are coming here just to witness the occasion and it's a good time for Filipinos in the UK to meet and get acquainted with long lost friends," he added.
Garcia was pleased to continue working with the pioneers of the largest Barrio Fiesta on the European continent, which drew some 50,000 Pinoys to Hounslow, London, earlier this year.
"This five year deal is always something that we've look forward to doing with the Philippine Centre,” Garcia said.
“The Philippine Centre has been doing this for the past 28 years and we've partnered with them for the past three years. We've seen the kind of passion and dedication of the Philippine Centre towards showcasing the best of the Filipino to other nationalities here in the UK," he added.
"You've seen how we hold it, how they've managed to grow this event year on year, and we are just so grateful that they have entrusted ABS-CBN to be their partner in putting this together. We look forward to bigger and greater things.”
The Barrio Fiesta sa London is a family event that attracts all types of ethnic groups in the UK. It gives people the chance to soak up Filipino culture by eating food, mingling with family and friends, and watching performances from Filipino celebrities.
Among the recent acts to have performed at the Barrio Fiesta sa London were John Lloyd Cruz, Angelica Panganiban, Jericho Rosales and Christine Reyes.
Overseeing the deal was PC Executive Board coordinator Nona Tomelden, whose late husband Benjamin Tomelden Jr. founded the Barrio Fiesta in London.
She explains they began in 1984 with no more than 150 Pinoys gathering in central London's Holland Park. She adds there were only six performers, six stalls, no microphone and that they used boxes of fruit and vegetables for the stage.
Over the years the event grew, which forced the organization to move to Gunnersbury Park before eventually settling at Lampton Park in Hounslow, west London.
"[We're] happy that ABS-CBN decided to come in and join the bandwagon and it looks a very nice future for us," Tomelden said.
"At the moment we are really excited because I hope we can make the 30th year."
Tomelden adds her husband would be very proud of the way the fiesta has grown from being a small event initially set up for Pinoys that were experiencing immigration issues.
"Since it started we never expected to be doing the Barrio Fiesta for the last 28 years," Tomelden said.
"Our purpose is really to bring the Filipinos together in one place, and carry on the spirit of the Filipinos of being with one another."
The 2013 Barrio Fiesta sa London is set for the weekend of July 20 and 21.
PC Christmas party
The signing was followed by the Philippine Centre's annual Christmas shindig, which was attended by several recognizable faces from the Filipino community.
They included former PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) players June Carmona, Mike Mustre, Ruel Bravo, as well as former world eskrima champion Ermar Alexander.
Also making her first community appearance was Maria Fe Pangilinan, who recently replaced Reynaldo Catapang as Deputy Chief of Mission to the Philippine Embassy in London.
Providing entertainment were Spencer Reyes and Michael Sesmundo, now based in the UK, who are formerly of Pinoy dance group the Streetboys.
Singer/songwriter Mark Villarosa was also there, performing his songs "Minsan" and "Raining in London."