by Kay Abaño
Filipinos already know the Ciutat Vella (Old Town) of Barcelona very well as most live in this part of the city. Everyone knows Calle Joaquin Costa, MACBA, Plaza San Agustin, and of course, the famous Las Ramblas. Others are more familiar with Avenida Parallel, Nou de la Rambla, and El Molino. These are just some of the typical streets and landmarks to be found in areas that have become home to Filipinos in Barcelona for decades. (In fact, since Rizal’s time! Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. Del Pilar and others used to live in the Barrio Chino, an area of what is now known as El Raval). What many Filipinos don’t know much about, though, are other neighborhoods or ‘barrios’ of Barcelona that could just as much cater to our tastes and special interests.
Filipinos LOVE celebrations. Food, live music, dancing, singing, food, drinking, and colorful decors in the streets… have I mentioned food? Yes, we Filipinos love all these. Why else would we be called the Fiesta Islands if we didn’t?! Well, this week, a beautiful part of Barcelona is celebrating its annual town feast filled with all the things we Filipinos love, and we are all invited!
Our friend Irene will tell us more about why it’s worth visiting the Fiesta Mayor de Gracia!
Irene Cervera is a 35-year old “Gracienca”- born, raised and bred in the barrio of Gracia. She is the founder of the organization Animal Latitude (link: http://www.animallatitude.org/), which provides information and training courses about wildlife around the world, their habitats, conservation, rescue and rehabilitation.
ABF: What is the Fiesta Mayor de Gracia?
Irene: The Fiesta Mayor de Gracia is one of the most awaited summer festivals in Barcelona. It is a week of street parties all over the Gracia neighborhood, with different activities like concerts, fire runs, children’s art workshops, and many more for each day and night. (see link below) This year’s celebration will run from the 15th – 21st of August.
ABF: Why is it popular and important?
Irene: It is most known for the very colorful and creative street decorations worked on with complete devotion by its residents, each year surprising us with different themes and their unique use of materials. It is also a very good example of the strong ties and collaborative spirit of its residents, some of whom prepare all year for this important event.
ABF: Which streets are your favorites?
Irene: My favorite street is Calle Joan Blanques for its creativity in concept and use of colors, lights and recycled materials. Their ideas are usually based on more abstract concepts like poetry, making it more emotionally touching and inspiring. Another is the Plaza Rovira because in 2009 they decorated the entire square as if it were under the sea, with plants, animals and other sea creatures floating all around. I generally love anything that has to do with nature.
CALLE JOAN BLANQUES
IN THE PHILIPPINES, we have our very own Pahiyas Festival.
Pahiyas Festival is a colorful feast celebrated every 15th of May by the people of Lucban, Quezon, Philippines in honor of San Isidro Labrador. It is the farmers’ thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest with a grand display of colorful rice wafers, fruits, vegetables, and handicrafts adorning every house in the town. wikipilipinas.org