Photo story: Tampa Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Festival

The Tampa Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Festival returned downtown to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on Saturday, May 11th to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

Organized by City of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor's Asian American Pacific Islander Council, the nine-hour festival showcased cultural performances with over 200 participants from various Asian countries and islands of the Pacific, martial arts performances, authentic food and informational exhibits from over 70 vendors.

Photos by Kimberly DeFalcoLive performances at the Tampa Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Festival included traditional dance and music.Designed to honor the many contributions and accomplishments of Asian Americans, Pacific Islander Americans and Native Hawaiians, the festival is part of the city’s commitment to cultural diversity. Asian countries and regions represented at the festival included Korea, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, India, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Hawaiian and South Pacific Islands.

"In Tampa, we embrace diversity as our strength and celebrate the many cultures that make our city dynamic," Mayor Jane Castor says at the festival. "This festival embodies our commitment to honoring the heritage of all those within our community and provides a great opportunity for everyone to learn about and appreciate new cultures."

The festival included the first-ever Miss Asia Pacific Islander Scholarship Pageant with eight contestants vying in traditional costumes while answering questions on topics ranging from global warming to preserving their culture.

Miss Vietnam, Ni Pham, took home the crown, winning a $1,000 scholarship. The first runner-up was Sarah Abinales representing the Philippines. The second runner-up was Kamille Janess, also representing the Philippines.

Following the pageant, the first-ever Asian Pacific Islander Idol competition was held with 11 contestants vying for the title.

Clark Panugalinog, representing the Philippines, took home the title and $500.

WTSP Channel 10's Miguel Octavio and Fox 13's Kimberly Kuizon joined Joey Omila and Mariben Andersen as emcees.

In 1978, a joint resolution in the U.S. Congress established the first ten days of MayPhotos by Kimberly DeFalcoOver 200 performers represented their cultural heritage at the Tampa Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Festival at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.

Former President George H.W. Bush designated the entire month of May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992 and it is now celebrated throughout the United States.

May was chosen to commemorate the first individuals to immigrate to the United States from Japan on May 7th, 1843 and honor Chinese Americans who worked to construct the transcontinental railroad, which was completed on May 10th, 1869. 

For more information, go to Tampa Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Festival.
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