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This past weekend, Emporium Logan Square was turned into an ephemeral Filipino neighborhood that featured Filipino-American chefs, artists, dancers, activists, and performers.
Where other ethnicities have distinct neighborhood identified with them—Chinatown, Greektown, Pilsen and La Villita—"We don’t have our exact community space. . . . We don't have a Filipino town," says Natalia Roxas, a photographer behind the food and culture website Filipino Kitchen. Four years ago "in a drunken spur" Roxas came up with the thought of a Filipino-specific event. The Kultura Fest blossomed into something bigger as she talked to people in Chicago's Filipino-American community.
"It's that need of having a community space and coming together to really appreciate and highlight all these people that are hidden in different kitchens and difference scenes," Roxas says. "It feels like our community here is struggling with that."
But Sunday's festival drew people from all over the midwest as well as a chef from Portland, Oregon, and artists from the Bay Area. Filipino pride was palpable in the room as Filipino-American artist Ruby Ibarra rapped about the beauty of having brown skin.
The event's success has inspired Roxas to try to branch out to other cities next year. "We want to be able to serve and create this space for underresourced communities throughout the country. I think this is a really good platform to highlight different talents," she says. v