The following post was written by Miguel Zialcita, blogger for Pinoy Jeepney,
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE LOWELL
It’s that time of year! With the dates July 25 to 27 circled on your calendar, there’s no escaping the Lowell Folk Festival. It’s an integral part of your experience as an IP student (Lowell to IP is like Mecca to Muslims), or parent for the matter, and isn’t that way without reason. Lowell is vital to our school’s funds and is the culmination of scrupulous planning, management and effort. In a way, Lowell has become an entity of its own, requiring our utmost care and attention.
Such events demand heavy preparation like The Workshop. Perhaps sacrificing a beautiful Saturday afternoon to stab strips of meat and slice vegetables isn’t the greatest trade-off, but it needed to be completed. Everyone assembled and worked dutifully at his or her station, sweaty elbows bumping, occupied in conversation. An early 4 o’clock release testified to the group’s efficiency. Some of us teenagers decided to savor the gorgeous weather right after and held our own basketball and tennis games. There’s nothing like unwinding.
Then came the Folk Festival: our Superbowl. Hungry and curious stomachs lined the street, eager to taste Iskwelahang Pilipino’s selection of aromatic foods, served onto paper plates by amicable youngsters. Customers who had never heard of the school inquired. Others showed loyalty, claiming: “This our xth year of eating here!”.
IP’s booth is always a hub of activity. The simple idea of serving customers food is much more difficult than it sounds, since a spectrum of jobs are required to accomplish the task. A hardy group of men operate between the grills, smoke billowing into their faces. Parents team on the pancit and rice, while a table row of Titas fold lumpia and turon. However, crucial to the schematic is the participation of runners, whose job is to bridge input (cooks) to the output (servers). Runners must deliver heavy loads of rice or pancit, a physical toll on one’s back. When a particular food is empty, runners become the lifeline to the servers and customers by updating them on the next batch’s status. Upon delivery, their arrival is similar to that of Santa Claus to a child, bringing the much anticipated and fresh goods. Servers, who interact with the customer, are the faces of IP. They represent the school and, in the case of Lowell, our Filipino culture. Servers are mostly comprised of students, whose youthfulness project a cheerful attitude. Their smaller, quicker physique allows them to handle plates with dexterity.
Any bystander looking past the servers and behind the scenes might refer to our operations as a soup of chaos, considering the innumerable amounts of tools, equipment and labor. Personally, I’ve always wondered how someone from the outside might view our practically makeshift restaurant. It’s fascinating that in a span of three days, we can lay down our tents and claim a section of a street as home, well beyond outfitted. Our section even dedicates a portion of its space to the workers! But with big ambitions come big costs. The Titos and Titas that’ve tackled Lowell’s logistics deserve a nice applause, and thanks to their diligent management, our school can stay afloat. Maybe it’ll eat a bit of your weekend, but everyone needs to contribute, and hey, we have food! IP’s site in Lowell is truly an experience for customer or volunteer.
July 25, 25, 27, 2014. Lowell, Massachusetts.
Another. Awesome. Year. The volunteers at IP did it again. Despite the morning downpour on Sunday, the customers kept the lines long and happy. All operations systems (new and old) done and gone good. The kids were empowered by their duties. The IP children and their parents took their tasks seriously- from buffet servers and cashiers, to runners, to meat separators, to lumpia mixers and wrapper, to water boys, to walking advertisements, to turon taste servers- to cleaning, to packing, no task was too small or big!
It does…did take a village. AGAin.
June 7, 2014- Boston City Hall Plaza, Boston, Massachusetts
It was a perfect day to fly the Philippine flag at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. The IP Rondalla troupe waited in queue for their turn to perform to a crowd of Pilipino residents in the New England area as well as passerbys walking through the Plaza and into the downtown crossing. Mabuhay ang Pilipino on this their 116 year of Independence.
Lowell, Massachusetts, Juily 2013
2013 was a banner year at the annual Lowell Folk Festival. What started as a one tent operation 25 years ago where pre-cooked food was brought in in coolers turned into a well-oiled machine with a multi-station kitchen: there’s the vegetable cutting table, the noodle prep, the wrapping station, the rice mashers, the fryers, and the grills.
The lure that creates the long lines is the BBQ grill smoking up the appetite and the fried turon (banana fritters) and lumpia (spring rolls) hot from the wok- people have to be warned NOT to bite into it immediately but to let it cool down. The “gawkah blockah” is the crowd in the front kitchen amazed at how the pancit (noodles) and sinangag (fried rice) are being tossed right in front of their plates. For three days, the volunteers work hard to keep the lines moving and happy!
The annual festival is IP’s biggest fundraiser. The 2014 calendar will be on July 25, 26 and 27.
May 18, 2014, IP Graduation Ceremony
Four graduates leave Iskwelahang Pilipino today and bring with them memories of Sundays filled with bonded friendships, culinary experiences and Pinoy Pride. We say Congratulations to Avigail Deking, Nolen Dube, Sierra Jamir and Julian Umali. We hope you will keep us in your hearts!
May 17, 2014, Bedford, MA
The sanctuary at the First Parish Church of Bedford was filled with Philippine music on a warm Saturday.in May Hosted by Elsa Christiansen-Janairo (Instructional Program Director) and the team of mentors, she introduced the beginners group called the “Hele Class”. They performed “bahay kubo” and “ako ay Pilipino”. Aside from Jaereyn Javier, the buzz was all about the performance by a mother and son duo. Agnes Quisumbing and her son Lucas Villasenor proudly strummed serious banduria side by side. The rest of the afternoon soiree included the older classes (Korido, Talindaw and IP’s seasoned performers, the Kundiman group). It was inspiring to see many fresh talent on stage. The beat goes on at Iskwelahang Pilipino rondalla.
Bedford, MA. If a picture is worth a thousand words- look at these photos – they are worth 6 thousand more ….of joy, of anticipation…..of Pabitin (pronounced pah-bee-teen). Now this is the REAL grab bag.
Mansfield, MA- at the New England Folk Festival’s (NEFFA) annual event this year, the IP children represented the Philippines with dances (salakot, bakya, tinikling and bangko) and costumes to delight of the local audience.
Photos by Charlie Castro
Video by Charlie Castro
Ryan Cayabyab, Philippines premier musician and multi-award winning composer, gifted Iskwelahang Pilipino a school hymn. On this day, he composed the tune to our lyrics in about 15 minutes. Here is the final run as he tweaked it from his computer to the piano.