There's a good reason why Filipinos love their fiestas. It's an opportunity to celebrate their culture and their beliefs and have fun doing it.
In April, the Filipino community provided a taste to participants in the sold-out spring sitting of the St. Mary's dinner series. Live music by recording artists, games, Ati-atihan costumes and the traditional Filipino stick dance (Tinkiling) were all part of the full evening that also included delicious traditional Filipino dishes.
Cochrane's growing Filipino community that now numbers almost 500 people proudly provided some insight into their deep love of music, dance and family.
Edwin Aguanta arranged the entertainment for the evening, something he has become accustomed to undertaking here. He explains there are numerous fiestas in the Phillippines that centre upon religion or culture or both.
"There are two types, but all of them promote the joy and happiness of the Filipino people as one nation.
"Basically we're having fun. We are people of a distinct culture. We're happy, we're very resilient whether we encounter storms or tragedies and that's what we're projecting here; a happy and hospitable people.
Aguanta says 7,100 islands form the Philippines yet that does not divide the people.
"Even though we're divided by many islands but we're still one country, united, and that's what we're promoting here. It's like us here as a Filipino community, united in one town. Cochrane is the very, very beautiful town that now we live in."
Mary Kate Aquino
Her studies at Mount Royal University in communications has kept Mary Kay Aquino, a veteran performer at 18, busy but she still finds time to perform at selected concerts and continues to create original music.
That evening she performed her newest single "Shadow Home" co-written by Aquino and Scott Henderson.
It's a departure from her upbeat original dance-pop song of 2015, "Trouble." It features the musical styling of a James Bond theme song and she uses her rich and soulful voice to tackle a serious topic in "Shadow Home."
"It's a little different than all the other singles I've released because it's not about love. It's more about mental health, depression and self-hatred."
"I have friends who have gone through things like that and I just felt inspired to write about it. Everyone goes through a period in their life that they're not comfortable in their own skin and that's what I wanted to base it around."
She debuted the song at her "Back 2 Back" concert with popular recording artist and composer Daryl Ong at the Jack Singer Hall in September.
She has concerts on back-to-back weekends in July, including a charity event for Kids Cancer Care on July 21.
Her music is available on all the popular music download sites, including iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. You can also catch many of her songs and performances on YouTube.
Emerging artist Kate Lynn
Kate Lynn, 13, an emerging recording artist and songwriter from Chestermere, and showed why she's already popular.
Performing since she was 9, she continues to gain attention from established artists and has appeared at several concerts, including Martin Nievera's Grey Eagles Event Centre concert in November. Last weekend she made a special appearance during the Calgary concert of Philippines rock idol Bamboo at the Glenmore Centre.
"Sunlight" and the uptempo "My Own Story" from her six-song EP "Forever Young" are available currently available on iTunes and Spotify.
Miss Philippines Canada, Khristel Cuesta, of Cochrane, also participated in the evening's festivities.
Dinner Series is Popular
Rick Arthur, chair of the Food, Fellowship and Fundraising Committee, says it's the first time they have featured a Filipino feast as part of the dinner series.
"This was first Filipino dinner and it was an amazing success and a tremendous orientation for everyone who is not Filipino to understand a little more about their culture and to welcome the Filipino people as part of our community, and they are a large part of our community."
"The food was absolutely phenomenal."
The church's committee organizes three to four of these evenings annually and they include a Harvestman Gala in the fall, that doubles as a large fundraiser, an Ukrainian dinner in the Christmas season and a spring dinner. They've also featured Italian, Greek and Mexican galas in the past and all feature music and dance of the culture represented.
"Our committee really enjoys it and our goal is to try a do a little bit better than last time and that's getting hard to do."
Mike Bautista, former president of the Cochrane Flipino community, says the fiesta was a huge event enjoyed by many and he thanks the St, Mary's Parish for the opportunity. He also thanks all the performers and the community for their continued support.