Last weekend I went to Balboa Park in San Diego and attended the first few hours of the Phillipine Cultural Festival.
A good friend of mine (who has since passed) was a Filipina, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with and having friends who are either from the Philippines or whose parents are from the Philippines. The people are generally warm and friendly and kind. Kindness is what I remember most about them as a general statement.
The food was from a local favorite restaurant, Conchingas. Apparently they make the best halo halo (“mix mix” in Tagalog) in the county. I can attest to the quality of the pansit. I’d never had halo halo before, so I tried some and it is an excellent dessert, though to describe the ingredients doesn’t do it justice: mung beans, red beans, garbanzo beans, coconut meat, dried rice, with sweet milk poured over it, and topped with ice and ice cream. It’s a sweet dessert or snack served in a parfait glass, or plastic cup in the case of the festival.
Visiting a Filipino festival is like going to a neighborhood block party. It’s as though everyone knows everyone else, and they’ve just gotten together to sing and dance and taste auntie’s empanada.
There was a nursery represented at one of the booths and I got a great deal on three epiphyllums, “orchid cactus.” I bought 3 cuttings for $10, two are planted out on the front deck and I gave one to my friend Laura who told me about orchid cactus in the first place.
I couldn’t help but think of my friend Belinda, who died this year after a long struggle with great sadness and illness. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel much like writing about the frstival. I had a good time and I thought it would be fun, but mostly it made me miss Belinda. She was only a couple of years older than I am, in her early fifties, and after her husband Jose died suddenly of a brain tumor she quit eating. She eventually starved herself to death and died. And there was nothing we could do to stop her or to make her want to live. I even yelled at her once, I felt so badly.
So these pictures are a gift to Belinda’s family, her mom and dad and sister and brother, and her son and two grandkids. As a reminder that I loved Belinda and wish she’d been able to find enough joy in life to want to stay here with us.