Many sports teams in North America host Filipino Heritage Nights where Filipinos overseas can connect with their culture through sports.
“Filipinos are everywhere.”
This is a popular saying that Filipinos, as well as people of other nationalities, know well. This is because this statement rings true — there are Filipinos in almost every corner of the world. One source of proof is what the American sports world knows as ‘Filipino Heritage Night’.
You may have heard of this before, maybe from your relatives abroad who have attended an event themselves or by reading about it on the news, as this has been around for a long time now, with many sports teams in the United States hosting these kinds of events for Filipino communities.
But what exactly is Filipino Heritage Night?
Celebrating Filipinos around the world
Filipino Heritage Nights have been around for years now. These are events that usually take place during a sports game, where Filipino fans gather to celebrate their culture through sports, performances, and other experiences.
Some of the major sports teams in the United States that have hosted ‘Heritage Nights’ for the Filipino community over the years include MLB teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland As, NBA teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors, and even NHL teams such as the Los Angeles Kings.
Every event is different, but all of them have common themes. For instance, most of them include performances by Filipino artists, like dancers, singers, DJs, or even comedians, and many also include Filipino food sellers — music and food are a huge part of Philippine culture.
But one of the most popular ways sports teams celebrate Filipino Heritage Night is by inviting famous figures to grace the events. Filipino-American rapper EZ Mil and Filipinas star player Sarina Bolden have thrown out the first pitches at MLB games to celebrate these events. Filipina singer Ylona Garcia sang the Philippine National Anthem at a Dodgers event. And, in one of the most famous Heritage Nights, Fil-Am NBA players Jalen Green and Jordan Clarkson competed against one another in a game at the annual Filipino Heritage Night in Houston last year.
We all know how passionate Filipinos can be about their sports, and this is why over the years, the number of professional teams in North America that have been celebrating these events has been growing across all the major leagues. For instance, the Winnipeg Jets hosted the first Filipino Heritage Night during a National Hockey League game, where Filipinos from Canada got to celebrate their culture with a night of food and music.
Heritage Nights represent the passion that Filipinos all around the world have not only for sports, but for their entire culture, no matter where they reside. Maria Valdehuea, who is a major contributor to the Warriors’ Heritage Nights, explained to NBC Sports, “I think over the years, we’ve found really some magic in what we’ve been able to do and how we can connect with the Filipino community.”
With so many Filipinos overseas, sports has become a platform for this community to connect with one another and to reconnect with their roots, even from far away.