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Hawaii’s Hispanic heritage on display

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Hawaii’s Hispanic population might seem invisible amid the state’s Asian-Pacific-flavored ethnic stew, but tomorrow’s Hispanic Heritage Festival and Health Fair will try to put an end to that.

Festival organizers promise an array of Hispanic entertainment, from music to dance, ethnic food and crafts.

"The entertainment is just phenomenal," said Nancy Ortiz, festival coordinator and executive director of the Hispanic Center of Hawaii, an umbrella group for local Hispanic organizations.

HISPANIC HERITAGE FESTIVAL AND HEALTH FAIR

Where: Kapiolani Park Bandstand

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. tomorrow

Cost: Free

Info: 285-0072, www.centrohispanohawaii.com

Selected festival highlights:
10 a.m. — Opening ceremonies
11:45 a.m. — Salvadoran guitarist Ali Garcia
12:50 p.m. — 10-year-old mariachi singer Christian Antonio Lum
1:00 p.m. — Ballet Folklorico Costa de Oro (regional Mexican dancing)
2:25 p.m. — Dance showcase: salsa, tango, bachata, Colombian
3:30 p.m. — Zumba Fitness demonstration
4:10 p.m. — Mariachi Christian singer Berthita Hernandez
4:20 p.m. — Ballet Folklorico Costa de Oro
A drawing will be held for a six-day, five-night trip for two to Las Vegas.

 

The festival attracted the talents of two mainland performers, Ballet Folklorico Costa de Oro, a folk-dance troupe from California, and singer Berthita Hernandez, a Christian mariachi singer and cancer survivor from Texas.

"We’re really excited because she’s a professional Christian mariachi singer," Ortiz said. "I met her several months ago at church. When she found out we were doing this, she said ‘Hey Nancy, I’m there.’"

Hawaii is contributing to a youth movement in mariachi music with Christian Antonio Lum, a 10-year-old singer from Waipio.

"My mother is from Mexico, and she used to play a lot of Mexican music in the car," said Lum, who sings regularly at Acapulco Mexican Restaurant in Waipahu. "I’d listen to it and sing along, and pretty soon my parents started taking me to sing at the restaurant."

Lum is half-Chinese and speaks a few words of Chinese, but his family speaks English and Spanish at home. He hopes his interest in mariachi music will propel him to a singing career.

"I just really like to perform in Spanish," said Lum, who goes by the title "El Charrito Cantor."

If dancing and music aren’t enough, festival-goers who look Hispanic and have some acting chops might get a shot at a TV show.

Producers from the ABC show "Off the Map," which is being shot in Hawaii but set in an unnamed South American jungle, will have a booth at the festival.

"They’re going to be casting there and taking pictures," Ortiz said.

 

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