The Philippine-American Picnic in South Dakota could be traced back to 1981, when it began as a small group of 40. After 26 years, the annual tradition has grown eight times bigger and happier.

Tina Kauffman, I call her Tita Tina, started it all. Filipinos bring different ethnic foods – fried rice, egg rolls, menudo, lechon, adobo, pakbet – and all other delicacies Filipinos are known for.



The Filipino-American Picnic, or Filipino potluck, started around 9AM on a sunny Saturday at Falls Park, Sioux Falls. Together with Mama Carol, Ate Amy and Ate Gina, we drove about 45 minutes from Brookings to join other Filipinos in the celebration. It was my first time, so I was the most excited among them all.


The park was filled with Filipinos of different colors – yellow like Chinese, light brown like mestizas, and dark brown like the normal Filipinos in Pinas. Benches were already occupied surrounding the picnic shelter. Different groups coming from different cities of South Dakota brought along with them folded chairs and tables and smiles and laughters that filled that portion of the park. Children were everywhere and what made it unique was the fact that Pinoys had their families with them.

I noticed that most of the Filipino women I met are married to Americans. Others were divorced and few others were about to divorce. The American husbands were there too and, I tell you, they all loved Filipino dishes to the max. That probably explains why these men married Filipinas: because of our food or the way Filipinas take care of their stomachs.

Kuya Dodong provided the audio system. And what is a Filipino gathering without the blast from the karaoke? There were two good singers whose vocal chords seemed not to tire over the course of time. They sang like they own the microphone. Someone told me they were siblings and that they’re both singers. I would have wanted to sing too (didn’t I tell you I have got the talent too? hehehe) I waited for my turn. It turned out that my turn will be in the last couple of hours before pack-up. Save the best for last. Take that.

I had the chance to showcase my singing prowess in the end. Modesty aside, I think I did well. Might not be the professional-sounding singer, but I was happy to know that other people liked my voice and not only my Mom.

There were games for kids and adults alike. Other kids were blessed with good looks that if they decide to enter the Philippine showbiz world, they certainly would have big chances to stardom.

When the event ended at past 6PM, the fun didn’t stop, at least for the few of us. We went to Tita Tina’s house and continued the eating and chatting. Tita Tina was the best host ever – very hospitable and friendly. These are reasons why Filipinos love this lady.

Around 10PM, we headed to a disco slash drinking bar. BUCKS, that’s the name of the bar. One of the popular bars in Sioux falls and, no wonder, it was crowded when we got there. I like the policy here in the USA when it comes to bars. No one below the age of 21 is allowed to enter and one must present an identification card to validate his or her drinking age. Unlike in the Philippines that even minors can get drunk, very drunk inside a nightly bar without the management getting into trouble with any of our laws. Here, the management or those manning the doors are really strict in enforcing the age policy.

Music totally rocked! Dude, did we have fun! All the music were awesome and the dance floor was never emptied with dancing shoes and, most importantly, curves that swayed to an alluring stance. I sweat all over.

I sipped the last few drops of my beer. At around half past 1AM, we headed for Tita Tina’s home to spend the rest of the night. As I closed my eyes, I etched the experiences in my mind so as when I wake up in the morning, the memories would still be vivid. I slept smiling.

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