Field Guide: Filipino Fun

This month, we explored Oahu’s best places to experience Filipino culture.
Learn the tinikling, the national dance of the Philippines, at the festival.
Photo: Joe Marquez


19th Annual Filipino Fiesta

Each year, more than 10,000 people head to Kapiolani Park for this annual celebration. This year’s theme is “Filipino Then and Now,” which includes a pictorial history of Filipinos in Hawaii. Festival mainstays include a parade, food booths, live music and dancing, as well as special appearances by Filipino actors. “It’s a great way to sample Filipino culture,” says Geminiano Arre Jr., president of the Filipino Community Center, a sponsor of the festival. The parade kicks off at 9 a.m. This year, the festival ends at 4 p.m., “so that people have time to go home and watch the Manny Pacquiao fight,” says Arre.


Maureen Clemente Bridal and Formal Wear

Whether you’re in the market for a colorful prom dress, a traditional wedding gown, a barong tagalog (men’s formal dress shirts) or kimona (women’s formal blouses) for a gala, Maureen Clemente and her mother, Nancy Luat, can help. Their cozy boutique specializes in Filipino formal wear and is packed with gowns in a rainbow of colors, with all the accompanying accessories, such as jewelry, hairpieces and heels, and, for boys and men, hand-embroidered barong. “Filipinos love to have parties,” laughs Luat. “We offer the complete looks.” She opened the boutique in 2004 and, last month, Clemente took over. Clemente studied fashion design on the Mainland and in Europe and creates custom-made garments in the back of the shop. “I’m so proud of her; she’s so talented,” says Luat.

1363 N. King St., (808) 843-0819.


Jesse’s Bakery and Restaurant

While this Kalihi eatery offers hearty dishes such as lechon kewali (pan-roasted pork), it is known for its bread and pianomo rolls. Light and fresh baked, they are worth a visit. The jellyroll-style cakes are filled with whipped butter and sugar. Make it a meal with the sari sari (vegetable stew) and fried chicken.

Open daily 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., 1101 N. King St., Suite 6, (808) 842-1120 




Did You Know?



The Philippine Consulate opened in 1948, and is part of Consular Row on Pali Highway. The white, Colonial-style building was originally the home of Albert Horner, a sugar- plantation executive. The Honolulu-based consul general has jurisdiction over all of the Hawaiian Islands as well as American Samoa and French Polynesia. Eighteen consuls general have served in Honolulu.


Filipino Community Center



On more than two acres of land, this three-story building is the largest Filipino community center in the U.S. There are plenty of classes offered, too. “Our classes are for anybody, not just Filipinos,” says the center’s president, Geminiano Arre Jr. Each day of the week, the center is bustling with members participating in martial arts, dance, art, music, language and computer classes. The center provides free legal aid, resources for those in the process of becoming U.S. citizens and, beginning this fall, a seniors program. The FilCom Center is also known for its spacious ballroom. About 200 birthday parties, weddings and graduation celebrations are held in the ballroom every year, says Arre. The members of Banda Kawayan, who play with traditional bamboo instruments, also practice and perform at the center.

94-428 Mokuola St., (808) 680-0451,


Mabuhay Café and Restaurant

On a recent weekday, this small, relaxed café was humming with hungry lunchgoers. The service is prompt and the dishes are made to order. Mabuhay Café—mabuhay means “long live!” in Tagalog—opened more than 40 years ago and serves home-style Filipino dishes. We recommend the thin pancit noodles, chicken adobo and the pinakbet with pork. Each dish is served family style. Save room for the halo halo.

Open daily 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., 1049 River St., (808) 545-1956