Written by: Chelsea Tan
[Left to right] Backstage at Fiesta Filipino: Annie Lux, Chelsea Tan, Xian Lim, Bela Padilla, Yassi Pressman, Chad Kinis.
Fiesta Filipino is the largest public show of Filipino culture here in Calgary, and 2018 marked the fourth year of this fun-filled event, which attracted audiences from as far as Edmonton and Lethbridge.
The celebrity appearances, have become a Fiesta Filipino staple. Past celebrity endorsers of the outdoor event have included Matteo Guidicelli in 2015, Jericho Rosales in 2016, and Sam Milby in 2017.
This year was the biggest celebrity lineup yet to grace the Fiesta Filipino stage.
Yassi Pressman, Bela Padilla, and Xian Lim of the Viva Artists Agency flew in from the Philippines. Other guests were Miss Annie Lux, Calgarian singer and signed Viva artist, and comedian Chad Kinis, who brought laughter to the crowd as he hosted the celebrity stage.
All three have become Filipino household names in recent years, with multiple big screen and small screen projects under their belts.
No amount of rain could dampen the fans’ enthusiasm as they braved the chilly weather to see their favourite Viva stars perform onstage.
Some were hardcore Yassi, Bela, and Xian fans who were giddy with excitement.
Meghan, who is new to Canada, says she was there to see one person.
“Yassi Pressman,” Meghan says. “I really like her. I wanna see her dance. She’s really popular in the Philippines.”
Another Fiesta attendee, Miss Teresita, responded with, “Lahat sila!”
It was around 5 p.m. when it started to rain and I caught up with the Viva stars backstage, just before they were set to perform. The drizzle had turned into a torrential downpour, causing about a 35-minute delay to their schedule, but Yassi Pressman was more concerned about the fans waiting outside in the rain.
She considered performing on the wet stage (in stiletto heels) and as Bela offered to lend her comfortable shoes for dancing. They decided against it for safety reasons and I was secretly glad because it meant I could chat with them briefly while they were waiting backstage.
I started off by saying “I’m here with Kuya”— and he jokingly interjected with “No, don’t call me kuya!” in a joking manner. Straight off the bat, I got the feeling that Xian Lim was down to earth and accommodating.
I asked whether it was his first time in Canada.
“Maraming beses na,” he says. “I’ve been to Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, there’s a lot.”