WAIPAHU, Hawaii — The 2024 Flores de Mayo and Filipino Fiesta celebration at the Filipino Community Center (FilCom) on Saturday was a vibrant and joyous occasion, serving as a platform to promote Philippine traditions, culture, and resilience.

Long before dawn, organizers, exhibitors, and groups both inside and outside the three-storey center, nestled within the historic Oahu Sugar Mill in suburban Waipahu, were already immersed in preparations. Renowned as the largest Filipino Community Center in the United States and beyond the Philippines, the bustling venue buzzed with anticipation.

The Santa Cruzan, deeply rooted in Filipino cultural heritage, stood out as a highlight of the Flores de Mayo and fiesta event. FilCom, in collaboration with the Filipino Jaycees of Honolulu and sponsored by L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, showcased young Filipinos aged 5 to 17 portraying various representations of the Virgin Mary, culminating in the portrayal of Reyna Elena (Queen Helena), mother of Constantine the Great, credited with discovering the Holy Cross.

Beyond the promotion of Filipino culture and traditions, Consul General of the Philippines Emil Fernandez described the event as a “great way to develop camaraderie and support one another,” particularly following challenges such as the wildfires in Maui the previous year.

Members of the Filipino-American Club at the Courtyard of the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu, Hawaii.

“Events like this unify the community; they bring us closer together with the common goal of promoting our interests and contributing to the development of the Philippines back home,” Fernandez stated during an interview with journalists participating in the Friends, Partners, and Allies Program.

Additionally, alongside the Santa Cruzan procession, there was a cooking competition aimed at discovering the finest adobo recipe among local Filipino families.

The event also featured a balut-eating challenge, a Sari-Sari Store offering a variety of popular Filipino products, and “Habi at Baro,” an exhibit curated by artist and designer Iris Viacrusis, featuring indigenous fabrics, jewelry, and artifacts sourced from different regions of the Philippines over a span of three years.